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24 Hurco machine tools purchased in a decade
24 Hurco machine tools purchased in a decade
24 Hurco machine tools purchased in a decade
24 Hurco machine tools purchased in a decade

24 Hurco machine tools purchased in a decade

Added to MTDCNC by Hurco Europe Ltd on 29 April 2016

In 2009, almost all of Galway subcontractor Dawnlough’s turnover came from the design and manufacture of special-purpose tooling for the medical device manufacturing industry. This work continues undiminished and Boston Scientific, Stryker, Medtronic and Abbott are among many regular customers.

Over the past six years, however, turnover has increased five-fold largely as a result of entering the aerospace sector, which has grown to account for 50 per cent of the firm’s business.

Managing director Brian McKeon explained, 'We anticipate that our aerospace work will rise to 70 per cent of turnover by the end of 2017, which is remarkable as it all happened unexpectedly.

'Towards the end of 2011, a Chinese subcontractor failed to supply parts to BE Aerospace in Ireland for first-class and business-class aircraft seats, so we were asked to step in and rescue the situation. We produced 2,500 components and it grew rapidly from there.'

The subcontractor has since gained AS9100 RevC accreditation for quality management in the aircraft industry and has also been awarded Tier 1 supplier status to BE Aerospace and Bombardier. Dawnlough exhibited at the Paris Air Show for the first time in 2015, receiving several promising enquiries.

Current aerospace contracts entail machining wing sections and fuselage parts from aluminium and stainless steel, as well as cobalt chrome engine mountings, up to a maximum size of 1,270 mm x 508 mm. This current limit is dictated by the presence on the shop floor of a Hurco VM30 vertical machining centre (VMC). It is one of 23 prismatic metalcutting centres at the Galway factory from the same supplier, which has also delivered one CNC lathe with driven tooling, designated TMM8, for producing components up to 256 mm diameter by 588 mm long.

Mr McKeon bought his first Hurco machines in 2005 through Irish representative, Michael Gannon, and has added new models regularly. Most are 3-axis VMCs, four of which are equipped with a 4th CNC axis to reduce the number of set-ups required for machining complex parts. Often, 4-axis interpolative machining is needed, as there are few right angles or square edges on aircraft structural parts.

The rationale ten years ago was to upgrade Dawnlough’s milling section and move away from G-code data input towards conversational programming for one-offs and small batches, for which the Hurco control is ideal. There was still a lot of mould tool production at the time, which was the company’s original specialism when it was formed in 1987.

Mr McKeon recalled, 'The difference was staggering. We found we could program up to six times more quickly by manual data input at the Hurco Max control. As we only make small quantities of parts, it translated into a 50 per cent increase in production output, which is why we have carried on buying the machines ever since.'

One of the most recent Hurco VMCs to be installed is a 5-axis VMX30Ui, which arrived in 2014. It joined another make of 5-axis machine on the shop floor for one-hit machining of components that were becoming increasingly complex. One in particular was an aerospace part produced in left- and right-hand variants that ran 20 hours a day for 18 months.

A recent job on the VMX30Ui involved sculpting a claw foot for the leg of a first-class aircraft seat out of solid bronze using a 3 mm diameter ball nose milling cutter at 14,000 rpm and a 3+2 axis cycle. With its 18,000 rpm spindle, the machine is ideal for such accurate, fine detail work. Cycle times are made quicker by Ultimotion software in the latest Hurco twin-screen control, which runs proprietary WinMax version 9 software. With up to 10,000 blocks variable look-ahead, it delivers fast cycle times and excellent surface finish.

Having five seats of SolidCam, Dawnlough prepares its more difficult programs off-line. However, Mr McKeon says that it is often faster to program even quite complicated geometries conversationally at the control on the shop floor. This is the case for 2D work and some 3D shapes, where advantage can be taken of the Swept Surface functionality in WinMax to create 3D geometry automatically. The operator can input a 2D shape as the sweeping contour and a second 2D path along which it is to be moved to define the solid shape.

The next step for the Galway firm will be to equip the 5-axis Hurco with an Erowa Robot Compact automated pallet changer with 205 positions for multiple pallet types. In this way, 24/7 utilisation of the resource will be achieved.

Mr McKeon concluded, 'We excel at machining often difficult and exotic materials to tolerances beyond the capability of many other manufacturers.

'Over the years, there have been no components on which we could not hold tolerance on any of our machines, including the Hurcos. They have been and continue to be very reliable.

'We also appreciated the supplier’s cooperation at the end of 2014 when we expanded into our present, 20,000 sq ft, climate-controlled premises. Hurco came in and decommissioned all of their machines and recommissioned them over a two-week period.

'It was a big task considering the number of machines involved, but the process was completed efficiently and on time.'

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