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Duckworth & Kent strengthen their 5 axis offering with DMG MORI
Duckworth & Kent strengthen their 5 axis offering with DMG MORI
Duckworth & Kent strengthen their 5 axis offering with DMG MORI
Duckworth & Kent strengthen their 5 axis offering with DMG MORI

Duckworth & Kent strengthen their 5 axis offering with DMG MORI

Added to MTDCNC by DMG MORI on 28 January 2015

Reading-based precision engineering company, Duckworth & Kent, which specialises in low-to-medium volume production of complex components in difficult-to-machine materials, has purchased a DMU 50 vertical machining centre from DMG MORI to strengthen its 5-axis machining capability.

The machine is the first on site capable of interpolative machining in all five axes simultaneously, although to date it has been used exclusively for 3-axis work with the rotary CNC axes positioned and clamped. A move to full 5-axis machining is planned for 2015.

Until the DMU 50 was installed, Duckworth & Kent relied for its multi-axis prismatic metalcutting on a number of 4-axis vertical-spindle machines and a 3-axis machine that was retrofitted in 2010 with a 2-axis table capable of performing 3+2-axis work.

Managing director Terry Gleeson said, 'As soon as we started using the 5-axis machine, it started to attract work and was quickly operating at full capacity.

'We tried to put on as many jobs as possible, as were able to save on fixture costs, which for smaller batches could be the same as the cost of producing the parts. Now we use generic workholding systems like Lang vices and System 3R pallet chucks, without the need for any bespoke fixtures.

'Components were machined in a single cycle that previously needed to be repositioned once or twice, saving set-up time and increasing productivity.

'These two economies - on fixtures and the number of operations - allowed us to quote more competitive prices and win more work.”

Early success using 5-axis technology led the subcontractor to invest in a fully-fledged 5-axis machine. A review of the market identified two top-end machines of the right size that were within budget. The DMU 50 was selected, as its footprint was smaller, space on the shop floor in Reading being limited. The machine also happened to cost less than the other shortlisted model.

A further advantage of the DMU configuration is that the -5 / +110 degree swivelling rotary table offers a larger clamping area than tables on equivalent trunnion-type 5-axis machines, on which the trunnion pivots and drives take up a lot of space.

Additionally, Mr Gleeson pointed out that the DMU table’s swivel axis is from front to back, in the Y-axis, unlike with most trunnion machines on which the swivel axis is in X. If the DMU table is tipped up to 90 degrees and locked, there is a lot of clearance for machining longer parts than would normally be possible. Duckworth & Kent have frequently used this capability, which avoids the need to use an angle bracket for fixturing components.

The versatility of the machine coupled with the low cost of 5-axis manufacture has resulted in work queuing for the DMU 50 as well. It is the most accurate machine currently on the shop floor in Reading, easily able to hold ± 5 microns tolerance, thanks in part to the optional linear scales fitted in X, Y and Z.

The machine features an 18,000 rpm / 35 kW spindle, 24 m/min rapid traverse, tool and part probing, and a Heidenhain-based DMG ERGOline ® Control with 19" colour screen and 3D software. Videos of the subcontractor using the machine may be viewed at the following URL: http://www.duckworthandkent.net/5-axis-machining.php

The website includes information on the full range of activities of the company, which was established nearly 50 years ago and moved to its present site in 1985. In addition to subcontract machining of precision components in volumes ranging from one-off to the low thousands, mainly for the aerospace, defence, motorsport, medical and oil & gas sectors, the firm makes tools and moulds for pressworking and plastic component manufacture, and builds special purpose machinery.

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