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Reduction in machining costs and lead times at Lyndhurst Precision

Reduction in machining costs and lead times at Lyndhurst Precision

Added to MTDCNC by MTDCNC on 01 October 2012

Batches of precision-machined components make up just a small proportion of the workload at Lyndhurst Precision Engineering, the Chorley-based company established 25 years ago by Phil Sweeney.

“In those early days, starting on my own with a lathe and a mill in a shed after being made redundant,” says time-served toolmaker Mr Sweeney, “we began by machining spares for cotton mills, then gradually progressed into the supply of components for local engineering companies as well as the design and manufacture of support and handling equipment, for example, for companies such as Leyland Trucks.”

Today, however, the 40-employee company has also an established reputation as a specialist in the project management of manufacturing equipment and systems – for example, the design, manufacture and installation of core plugging systems (for Baxi) and projects that embrace, for instance, design and manufacture, electrical hardware design and installation, PLC software design and robotic handling, installation and programming.

The company’s remit also includes the design and manufacture of bespoke equipment projects in the nuclear, defence, aerospace and medical sectors, to name a few. Mark Marriner, Engineering Director, says: “The work we are currently involved with varies from defence industries’ development projects to reverse engineering and refurbishments of which our new premises are having a great positive effect.

“Also, we have recently secured an automotive project which is to be exported to Japan in the New Year, which shows the company’s ability to be competitive in overseas markets.”

But precision engineered components continue to remain a key element of the continued success of this ISO 9001:2000-accredited company, and any savings that can be made on machining costs and lead times will, as Mr Sweeney says, “have an obvious impact throughout the business”.

So, when Vargus Tooling UK – already a supplier to the company of its world leading thread generation tooling, to supersede conventional drilling and tapping routines - introduced Works Manager, Stuart Walker, to the Widia M1200 carbide face milling inserts with the promise that they would provide a universal solution across a range of materials and at a lower piece part cost per insert, Mr Walker’s obvious interest was understandably masked by a certain degree of scepticism.

Vargus Tooling UK, a leading supplier of thread generation tooling, supplies the Widia insert tooling as Master Distributor for the UK and Ireland. Two M1200 geometries are offered: the LDJ geometry, with optimised rake angles, in two grades - THMU (targeted at non-ferrous materials) and a TiB2-coated TN grade for high silicon aluminium; and the LDJ3W wiper-style geometry, available in similar grades also.

“We were using a wide range of carbide grades to machine a variety of materials (including aluminium)  and components, predominantly for the nuclear, aerospace and medical industries,” says Mr Walker. “But I have to say that with the switch to the Widia 12-edged insert (TN6501 grade) we are increasingly finding that not only can all these tasks be achieved, as Vargus promised, but also that the new inserts are allowing us to improve production rates across a host of workpieces.”

The Widia insert is being run at elevated speeds and feeds (on a variety of machines - predominantly Cincinnati Arrow vertical machining centres that will accommodate parts 1,500 mm long) compared to previous methods; at 160 m/min and 3-4 mm depth of cut and .22 per tooth on stainless steel; and at 220 m/min and 3- 4 mm depth of cut and .22 per tooth on carbon steel.

“The result is that the Widia M1200 is now our insert of choice for all our milling tasks,” continues Mr Walker, “and the inserts are cheaper than those we were using previously, so the benefits are even more impressive.

“We’re now looking at trialling Widia WM25CT inserts for our turning applications (on Cincinnati and Mori Seiki machines with capacities up to 1,000 mm diameter by 4,000 mm long). Vargus Tooling UK’s Technical Sales Engineer, Ian Lowe, assures us that we’ll achieve similar benefits on the lathes!”

According to Managing Director Phil Sweeney, the switch to Widia is one of a number of important changes at the company, which has recently moved into a new unit that is a stone’s throw from the site it occupied for the past ten years.

“Our move to the new 15,000 ft2 building (embracing a 13,000 ft2 shopfloor) comes at the right time for us to really capitalise on the burgeoning nuclear market by applying our niche skills for prototypes and one-offs, for example, and especially for ‘the application of the technology of manufacturing’ in our supply of bespoke solutions to particular manufacturing problems.

“The investment in the new facility – which is reaching £700,000 – will be money well spent, in the same way that we have continued to invest throughout the recession in our people (we have maintained the same employment levels over this difficult period) and in our manufacturing capabilities, including water jet cutting. Indeed, it seems that our Omax Jet machining centre, which accommodates parts up to 2,550 mm by 1,270 mm, hasn’t stopped since we installed it – it cuts 20 mm steel plate, for example, to perfection!

“That said,” he adds, “we’re always looking to improve and, thanks to Vargus Tooling UK, we certainly have no trouble doing that in terms of our cutting times.”

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