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K+K Specialised Engineering recently bought two compact vertical machining centres from XYZ Machine Tools following the company’s relocation into a new 360m2 workshop.

It installed these alongside an identical XYZ Mini Mill 560 it has operated for several years.

During urgent batch production, all three typically machine similar components, with the cycles phased so that the operator can tend each machine in turn as required.

There is often spare time during which the operator can progress jobs on one of the other slightly less automated mills.

Keith Pain, from K+K Specialised Engineering, said: ‘Our machine tools have progressed according to the needs of the work and drafting technology.

‘When we started, nearly all drawings were manual and most jobs were one-offs, so manual machines with digital readouts were all that was really necessary, and indeed all we could afford.

‘When economic CNC machining arrived we were aware of the benefits, particularly in the case of small batch work, although we investigated several options before investing in a basic XYZ Prototrak-equipped CNC/manual lathe and then a Prototrak CNC/manual mill.

‘At the time these machines gave us the flexibility we needed, as they were easy to program on screen from the many 2D paper drawings we still received.

‘With ever more information arriving as CAD models, and the increase in repeat components, the Mini Mill 560 was the logical next step, although we were a little concerned about investing in a full-CNC machine.

‘However, two of us went on the basic training course and we picked up programming of the Siemens Shopmill conversational CNC very quickly.

‘After that we soon found ourselves saying that we needed more than one of these machines, because by then the first Mini Mill had become our most utilised machine.’ Ideally suited to the type of work and batch sizes typically undertaken by K+K, the concept behind the XYZ Mini Mill 560 is a compact VMC configuration capable of machining a wide range of components within the smallest possible machine footprint.

A 560 x 400 x 500mm working envelope is contained within a 2000 x 2060mm footprint.

The sturdy Meehanite ribbed cast-iron construction ensures full use can be made of the 15HP (11kW)/8000 rev/min (12,000 rev/min optional) dynamically balanced BT 40 spindle.

Induction hardened and ground box ways are Turcite-coated to ensure smooth operation at axis travel rates up to 20m/min, with the 12-station toolchanger holding tools up to 100mm diameter.

Having created a business model that shows a profit even with a fluctuating workload, K+K is now looking at other opportunities to increase the utilisation of its CNC machine tools.

The company currently machines precision components for automotive development, motorsport, microwave communications and mechanical handling industries, as well as making jigs and fixtures for UK-based metrology companies.

However, over the years there has been a continual but small flow of work from vehicle enthusiasts.

Many jobs such as outer engine cases, front-fork yokes and gearshift lever systems have been machined for customised motorcycles.

In addition to manufacturing custom parts that intentionally look different to the original, there have been many projects to recreate parts for classic and vintage cars and motorcycles undergoing restoration.

To help customers who may not have the expertise to create designs but know what they would like, K+K in association with experienced automotive designers offers a complete design and manufacturing service.

XYZ Machine Tools

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