Northampton based ABG Rubber & Plastics has just purchased a new Leadwell V-22i machining centre and to optimise the performance of the latest addition to its plant list, the company has installed a Microloc workholding system.
The company manufactures anything from F1 and motorsport components down to simple parts like chopping boards. It offers a comprehensive range of plastic and rubber materials coupled with its own production facility that converts materials into finished components. From prototypes up to full production runs, ABG can provide materials such as cut to size sheet, block, strip, coils and billeted rods of rubber, sponge, plastics and laminates.
ABG Rubber & Plastics shift supervisor and CNC machinist Mr Anthony Morbey says: 'We initially installed the Microloc system on one machine and now its on almost all our machines. The reason we opted for the Microloc system is because it is easy to set single or multiple parts on the machine. It is also very easy to set datum's and provides huge clamping forces that provide stability. This stability enables us to grip on surfaces as small as 2.5mm.'
Despite primarily machining plastic components, the Microloc system doesn't damage the parts. As Mr Morbey continues: 'We can tighten the system as we desire and the Microloc system enables us to feel the torque level we require. Recently we moved from the manual system up to the hydraulic Microloc system. This is because the manual system would take more time to clamp upwards of 6 to 8 parts that would be machined in every single machine set-up. With the hydraulic device, we can just place the parts in the machine, hit the button and the parts are all clamped in one go.'
In general, the components at ABG Rubber & Plastics are machined in batches from 4 to 10 at a time in a single set-up on the Microloc base plate. However, the compact Microloc system and the dimension of the plastic parts will allow the Northampton company to produce up to 16 parts in a single set-up. At ABG, the hydraulic Microloc system has been installed on a Leadwell V30 machining centre. The 75mm pitch grid plate allows for the clamping of parts in the 75mm width range. It also has a series of clamps and locators that can be actuated manually or via the M-Codes in the CNC controller. What this means for ABG is that its machine operator doesn't have to undergo the time consuming process of manually clamping and opening each vice on the clamping plate. So, therefore the machine operator only has to load and unload the Microloc system within the Leadwell machining centre.
In addition, the Microloc grid plate and clamp system supports the machining of more diverse components. Explaining to MTD, Mr Morbey says: 'With particularly long parts, the Microloc device can clamp the part along the whole length of the job and not just in the middle like conventional systems.' What this gives the company, is improved surface finishes and extended tool life credit to greater clamping forces over the entire length of long workpieces. In contrast, the Microloc system is also being applied to complex geometry workpieces and standard square or rectangular components.