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Seco’s cutting tool solutions go down great guns!
Seco’s cutting tool solutions go down great guns!

Seco’s cutting tool solutions go down great guns!

Added to MTDCNC by Seco Tools (UK) Ltd on 23 April 2014

Armortek, the world’s leading manufacturer of 1/6th scale armour kits, uses a range of Seco’s turning tools to machine precision parts for its recently-launched 25 Pounder Field Gun Kompact Kit.

Precision manufacturing specialist Armortek Ltd located in Dunkerswell, near Honiton in Devon, is best known throughout the world for its 1/6th scale tanks and armoured vehicles kits – and every year launches a new model into the market.

This year (2014) is no exception and, in response to customer demand and to tie in with the centenary of the start of WW1, the company has introduced the British Mark IV Tank.

As expected the new model is proving popular and demand is high.

Armortek run by husband and wife team Mark and Gill Watkins, is a small company with big ambitions and has recently embarked on a new, innovative business initiative.

This initiative, called Kompact Kits, a trading name of Armortek Ltd, has seen the company add 1/6th scale replica field gun kits to its product portfolio and at the start of the year began manufacturing the first in the series – the British WWII 25 PDR field gun that initially saw active service at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942, and later in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Says director, Mark Watkins:

'Kompact Kits run parallel to our more established tank and armoured vehicle kits.

'By talking to our customers (online via social media channels as well as through more traditional routes), we recognised that there was a definite market across the world for smaller, less complex and less expensive field gun kits.'

Kompact Kits: 25 Pounder Artillery Gun

The 25 PDR field gun is an impressive looking high-precision model, and is 786mm x 360mm x 273mm (L x W x H) in size, and weighs 9 kilos.

The model is made from a number of different metals – aluminium, steel and brass. All parts are CNC machined and/or laser cut from solid bar, billet or castings, and are manufactured to high tolerances.

Part accuracy is a constant and critical factor because models are shipped to customers in kit form requiring them to undertake all assembly operations.

Explains director, Gill Watkins:

'The last thing customers want or need is poorly-made, ill-fitting components that can’t be assembled properly or easily. That’s why we pay so much attention to accuracy during job set-ups and machining operations, and in-process and post-machining inspection.'

Each gun kit comprises some 200 different parts (excluding fasteners and rivets), and a significant proportion of them are turned on Armortek’s CNC turning centres using a range of Seco products and solutions e.g. basic turning operations, profiling, parting-off, grooving and threading.

Specific turned parts include the guns’ barrels, breaches, muzzles, wheels, axles and traverse and elevation mechanisms.

To meet demand Armortek manufactures 100 Kompact Kits at a time, and has to balance this production run with the manufacture of parts for this year’s British Mark IV Tank kits, as well as one-off customer requested spares and replacement parts for previously released kits.

As a consequence the company is running its machines 7-days a week – and has since June 2013.

The Seco angle

Prior to the creation of Armortek, Mark Watkins worked as a production engineer at the Ford Company in Dagenham.

It was here in 1983 that he first came into contact with Seco when involved in an innovative project to hard turn chilled iron – a process designed to replace the previously used grinding method.

Remembers Mark Watkins:

'The project was successful and the role that Seco played in the venture stuck with me.'

Back to present day sees Armortek using a range of Seco turning solutions.

These include Seco’s 150.10 Jet Blade Parting-off system which incorporates a high-speed steel blade with Jetstream Duo Tooling to prevent lateral deflection and provide optimum chip formation and evacuation.

The 150.10 solution delivers increased tool life and improved process reliability, and allows higher feeds to be used.

Another turning solution in operation at Armortek’s facility is Seco’s Snap Tap thread-turning inserts that features an Anti-Twist™ insert locking system that provides secure insert positioning and holding, increased tool life, reduced vibrations, greater accuracy and performance of the insert, and an overall increase in threading productivity.

Concludes Mark Watkins:

'We’re not machining aggressive materials per se but we are operating around the clock. That means we need tooling solutions that are up to the job, deliver excellent reliability, good tool life and high accuracies and repeatability’s.

'We use Seco tooling because it does everything we ask of it.'

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