What started out as a hobby manufacturing spare parts for their own classic British motorcycles has turned into a successful business for Chris and Ian. From their small workshop in a quiet Cornish village they are supporting a growing customer base with replacement parts for vintage motorcycles, in many cases improving on the original design. Their ability to manufacture their own parts was threatened when Ian had a serious scuba diving accident, but thanks to a ProtoTRAK controlled lathe from XYZ, CPC Engineering was born, moving from manual machines to CNC their hobby and business is up, running and looking to expand.
In the true spirit of cottage industry CPC Engineering was born from a workshop next to the family bungalow. This housed a collection of manual machines that used to be the mainstay of their hobby, producing classic motorcycle parts for marques such as BSA, Ariel, Triumph, Norton and Velocette, among others. All was going to plan until Ian had a serious accident that left him temporarily paralysed, but worse for a hands-on engineer with over 40 years of experience the accident also left him unable to do complex maths calculations, which brought serious issues when manually trying to machine complex components. Without a move away from manual machines, this would mean an end to Ian’s machining days.
Rather than accept defeat, Chris and Ian looked around for an alternative to manual machining, first fitting DRO’s and other equipment to their machines, but nothing gave the results they were looking for until a visit to XYZ Machine Tools confirmed that the ProtoTRAK control system offered the perfect solution. Chris the owner of CPC Engineering was quite happy on the manual machines, but the ease of use of the ProtoTRAK control, accuracy and with its straightforward conversational programming, the move to CNC was obvious. “For Ian, a big plus was the ProtoTRAK control’s ability to fill in dimensions that I would normally have had to calculate, which is especially useful where we are manufacturing parts without drawings,” says Chris.
As a result, with all boxes ticked, and with the bulk of CPC Engineering’s work involving turning, they ordered a ProTURN SLX1630 lathe from XYZ Machine Tools. With business increasing CPC now has a second workshop where the work continues producing the parts for bikes, not only for their own collection, but a growing worldwide customer base. This has been aided by the straightforward programming of the ProtoTRAK control that is allowing them to offer a bespoke manufacturing service, reverse engineering parts for customers without any design charge.
One of the most popular lathes in the XYZ range, the ProTURN SLX 1630 offers features including, constant surface speed from its 5.75 Kw/7.5hp (150-2500 revs/min) spindle, 400 mm swing over the bed, rapid traverse controlled by an apron-mounted joystick, 200 mm three jaw chuck and a quick change toolpost. Control is provided by the latest ProtoTRAK SLX control system that in addition to being easy to program, also offers benefits such as the TRAKing system that allows the operator to work through the program using the handwheels, once happy pressing the cycle start to switch to full CNC mode. The control can also verify the program using solid model graphics, if required.
“The arrival of the XYZ ProTURN SLX 1630 lathe definitely improved our manufacturing capability and allowed us to further develop our product range. Prior to its arrival, we had around 100 items in our inventory, we have now re-engineered those original designs, hugely improving them and we are now targeting to have over 500 items on our website and eBay by 2017 (www.cpcengineering.co.uk). This is in addition to the one-off commissions that we may get from the custom bike sector, which is also a growing market for us. As enthusiasts ourselves we are delighted to be able to offer quality parts that haven’t been manufactured for a number of years. The ProTURN lathe is certainly helping in that respect, the beautiful and accurate finish has given me 100% positive feedback from over 1500 transactions” says Chris.
Now familiar with the ProtoTRAK control, Chris and Ian turned their attention to milling and the decision was taken to invest in a vertical machining centre. Once again ease of use had to be a priority with machine size also an issue, as any machine would have to fit in the second workshop. The result was the arrival of an XYZ Mini Mill 560 with a Siemens 828D ShopMill Control incorporating the latest JobShop Concept, which guides the user through the machining stages using easy to understand prompts. This straightforward programming guidance was perfect for Ian with the control doing all of the calculations in the background. For reassurance the control provides the user with the ability to simulate the program in plan, three planes or, full 3D, switching views as you go.
For the type of components being produced at CPC Engineering the capacity and capability of the XYZ Mini Mill 560 is perfect with its solid 3100 kg casting creating a solid platform from which to benefit from its 15 hp/8000 revs/min spindle, 560 x 400 x 500 mm axis travels, a table capable of carrying components up to 300 kg and feed rates of 20 m/min in all axes.