In November 2011, Norjon Engineers Ltd moved into a new facility and acquired two new machine tools. It is the latest step in an investment of over £1m in less than two years that has contributed to the company growing by almost 50% this year. The growth has been underpinned by investment in high quality machine tools that include a Mazak Integrex i400 turning centre and a Hermle C40 machining centre delivered to the new facility in November.
The growth at the Gosport based company is attributed to new machine tools that have enabled the business to now run lights-out machining. The additional un-manned machine hours that has seen Norjon start a night shift is supported by high quality cutting tools from TaeguTec, both major factors behind the company's growth.
In the last three years the investment in technology and a highly skilled workforce has taken staff levels from 17 to almost 30. This investment now brings the total of Hermle 5-axis machining centres from George Kingsbury to four machines. Historically producing gear components, seals for ship propulsion units and automotive test rigs, the company has diversified into the aerospace, automotive, food packaging, hydraulics and power generation sectors. With the company increasing its workload and diversifying into new sectors, the complexity and range of parts has gradually increased. Now producing anything from 1 offs to batches of 20 plus from aluminium, stainless steel, titanium, inconel and additional difficult materials, the company has needed to investigate new tooling suppliers to meet the high specifications of its machine tools. To this end, the company invited TaeguTec representative Iain Lacayo to review the company&rsquos machining processes and tooling philosophies.
The first tool to be trialled was the TaeguTec ChaseMill 16, 25 and 32mm diameter milling cutter on an aluminium hovercraft component. It immediately made an impact by raising speeds and feeds to increase productivity. The ChaseMill also improved tool life and surface finish. Another benefit to Norjon was that aluminium and steel s could be used in the cutter giving the company additional flexibility whilst reducing tooling costs in comparison to the previous solid carbide cutters.
The TaeguTec representative was then introduced to the company&rsquos milling section and the TT9030 grade made benefits to this section rapidly. Milling inconel keys for a marine customer, Norjon was previously using 2-3 sets of s per batch of 50 keys. The switch to TaeguTec s only required one set of TT9030 s per batch. The tool life gain reduced Norjon&rsquos tooling cost whilst eliminating downtime caused by changes. Added to this, the cycle time on the inconel job has fallen from one hour to 30 minutes per key.
Such results led to TaeguTec&rsquos 16mm diameter 5XD T-Drill being used on a number of turned parts where tool life was improved by over 50% with surface finish also benefitting from the new tools. Previously Norjon used a competitor drilling system that delivered poor and inconsistent tool life. In comparison to the previous drill, the T-Drill offered 4 edges as opposed to two. This instantly reduced the cost per by offering twice the cutting edges. This cost effective solution noted Norjon acquiring the T-Drill in 12.5, 15, 16, 20, 25 and 36mm diameters. The extremely rigid T-Drill system has a geometry design that enables it to conduct boring operations as well as drilling. Remaining at the forefront of product developments, TaeguTec has now introduced the new DrillRush series of head-exchangeable drills with the new TT9080 grade. Despite being a relatively new addition for Norjon, the DrillRush is already delivering reduced cycle times and improved tool life.
With regards to turning on its new Mazak Integrex, Norjon is keen to use the new TaeguTec PC chipbreaker tool holder with the new TT9225 Gold Rush grade. As Norjon's Managing Director, Mr Kevin Fox comments: "We have been using the TaeguTec MC Chipbreaker for some time with excellent results but the new PC Chipbreaker improves swarf control, which in turn permits higher speeds and feeds. With many of our turned parts being relatively small in size and in small batch runs, the benefits are less visible. However, the new Mazak has a capacity to turn up to 1100mm in length and 650mm diameter and we foresee a lot of large parts being machined on the Mazak. It is the large stainless steel and Duplex parts with significant material removal that will benefit from the new PC Chipbreaker. It has improved cycle times by over 20% on small parts with tool life and surface finish being outstanding. I am confident that with larger parts we will reap the potential productivity benefits from the TaeguTec range."
&ldquoThe tool life improvements have been extremely important to us. We machine our parts in one-hit and having to stop a job mid-cycle for a tool change is not a productive option. Additionally, this improved tool life is what underpins our ability to run a skeleton shift on nights. If tool consistency and life was an issue, we would struggle to operate a night shift without fully manning the machines. So, TaeguTec has been a major contributor to our growth growth that has evolved from lights-out machining.
"The TaeguTec tools have also improved confidence. Consistent performance ensures that our staff can run a set number of parts before a tool change is needed and this eradicates a need to constantly man a machine when producing batch runs. The performance, tool life and cost reductions have been major success for our business and we have now acquired a TaeguTec CTMS tool management system to ensure we have the full TaeguTec tooling package,&rdquo concludes Mr Fox.