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XYZ Mini Mill and SLX 1630 lathe ideal for one-off and low volume batches
XYZ Mini Mill and SLX 1630 lathe ideal for one-off and low volume batches
XYZ Mini Mill and SLX 1630 lathe ideal for one-off and low volume batches
XYZ Mini Mill and SLX 1630 lathe ideal for one-off and low volume batches

XYZ Mini Mill and SLX 1630 lathe ideal for one-off and low volume batches

Added to MTDCNC by XYZ Machine Tools on 04 March 2014

Based in the rural setting of Frant, Kent, the Jota Group has developed from its early days as a race team in 2000, to being a multi-faceted organisation servicing the needs of its own motorsport teams, groups and individuals that participate in racing historic sports cars, design and development and even an aviation business. At the heart of the group is a passion to be the best with an almost fanatical attention to detail.

In this respect the Jota Sport division is typical of the rest of the group applying this passion to deliver winning performances on track, where it has competed in the Le Mans series in the GT, LMP2 and LMP1 classes. In 2010 the Jota Sport team was chosen as the Official Partner Team to Aston Martin Racing. In the same year it was also commissioned by Mazda UK to put the brand back on the race track, as part of the 21st anniversary celebrations of Mazda’s legendary MX-5 sports car. The company’s longest and most successful partnership, though, is with motorsport company Zytek. Jota Sport runs the Zytek Z11SN Nissan team in the Le Mans Series and ed World Endurance Championship rounds, and will return to Le Mans for the eighth year running in June to compete in the world famous 24 hour race.

While Jota Sport’s racing credentials are beyond doubt, when it came to machining parts for the modern and historic race cars it needed to move further up the grid. 'With an increasing number of cars to support we had to review our machining strategy,' says Sam Hignett Director Jota Group. 'We had manual machines that were being used by race technicians to manufacture bits and pieces, but the bulk of the parts we needed we had to sub-contract out. This brought with it issues of lead times, as we needed quick turnaround on parts to get cars on track and to help with our race development program. Therefore, the decision was taken to expand our in-house machining with the purchase of machines from XYZ Machine Tools, supported by the decision to bring in additional expertise in the form of machine shop manager Ryan Goodger to develop that side of the business.'

The two machines are an XYZ Mini Mill 560 machining centre and an XYZ ProTURN SLX 1630 lathe. These two machines meet Jota Sport’s needs perfectly as they are ideal for producing one-offs or low volume batches thanks to the intuitive nature of the ProtoTRAK control on the lathe and the Siemens ShopMill control on the Mini Mill 560. For a machine of its size, with a table size of 610 by 370 and axis travels of 560 x 400 x 500 mm, the XYZ Mini Mill 560 is a powerful and robust machine, with an 8000 revs/min, 15 hp spindle and weighing in at 3100 kg. Versatility is the key with the XYZ ProTURN SLX 1630, with its 400 mm swing over the bed, 760 mm between centre distance and 54 mm spindle bore, it is capable of handling a wide variety of work, all enhanced by the ease of use of the ProtoTRAK control.

'The ProTurn machine is excellent for one-offs and the ProtoTRAK control allows us to machine some complex parts without the need for a full CNC machine,' says Ryan Goodger. 'We also find the repeatability and accuracy to be perfect for what we need, easily achieving the tight tolerances demanded of motorsport.' Having this machining capacity has also attracted the interest of other customers with a need for low-volume production, a situation that has seen the machine shop at Jota Sport develop as a separate business unit, providing sub-contract capacity for other companies.

'As demand has grown we have now seen the split of work move more towards supplying parts for other people, with almost 70 per cent of our capacity taken up with this sort of work,' says Ryan Goodger. It is here that the reliability of the machines from XYZ Machine Tools is playing a part in the smooth running of the business. “Both machines have been very reliable and this gave us the confidence recently to run the Mini Mill unmanned. An example was when we had to machine some intricate wheel gun sockets. The cycle time was 10-hours, which would have posed some difficulties if the machines had to be watched all the time. However, we were happy to leave the machine running to finish the cycle after everyone had gone home for the evening.'

The XYZ Mini Mill 560 is also being used in conjunction with a co-ordinate measuring machine to reverse engineer parts for the cars that are under the care of the Jota Historic division. For many of these old and exotic cars spare parts are impossible to find and drawings don’t exist. The ability to use the Siemens ShopMill 828D control to reverse engineer the parts is a major plus in keeping these cars racing. Another feature of the Mini Mill 560’s control system that appeals to Ryan Goodger is the ability to place jobs anywhere on the table. Then using a probing routine the machine aligns itself to the part, which is a major timesaver by eliminating the need to reposition parts.  

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