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Doosan 51mm bar Lynx lathe with a Y axis is first CNC
Doosan 51mm bar Lynx lathe with a Y axis is first CNC

Doosan 51mm bar Lynx lathe with a Y axis is first CNC

Added to MTDCNC by Mills CNC Ltd on 01 October 2014

May 2014 was a watershed in the long history of Gas Spring specialist, ALROSE PRODUCTS LTD when the Company invested in its first CNC machine tool, a new Doosan 6 inch chuck/51mm bar diameter Lynx lathe with integrated Y-axis and sub-spindle capability, supplied by Mills CNC.

At the time this was one of the first Y-axis Lynx lathes that Mills had sold in the UK, following the range's successful launch at Mach 2014.

Until the arrival of the Lynx, ALROSE PRODUCTS LTD (based near Peterborough) had sub contracted out a majority of its precision machining requirements but managing director, Jon Aconley stated that, ' whilst this arrangement was satisfactory in the past, it was no longer the best solution to take the Company forward'.

The investment in the multi-tasking Lynx 220LSYA lathe was not made in isolation but was part of a wider, continuous improvement programme introduced by Jon Aconley in March 2013, (when he purchased the Company as a going concern) - the objective being to raise the Company productivity and competitiveness by investing in the latest advanced manufacturing technologies and improve the skill levels of the workforce.

Jon Aconley says 'ALROSE PRODUCTS LTD has a proud history and tradition. The Company's Gas Spring products and solutions are renowned throughout the world for their performance and reliability and are widely used in the global aerospace, marine, automotive, medical and food-processing sectors. However, when you sub contract to a third party you can sometimes lose control over the details that differentiate you and your products in the market, for example, lead- time fulfillment, competitive pricing structure and quality control.'

'Specific problems we encountered with these historic arrangements included a difficulty in applying JIT and Lean Manufacturing to our production processes and an inability to respond quickly to manufacturing prototypes and one-offs. Also, making design tweaks to our existing product ranges were more difficult to implement.'

To address these issues and make the supply chains customers shorter, more efficient and more transparent the decision was made to bring manufacturing in-house.

The Company's standard range of Gas Springs, e.g. Compression, Locking Compression, Tension and Dampers, and its customised solutions differ according to their eventual use and application. These are available in a range of sizes, up to 3 metres in length, 7500N force, with different end-fitting features, configurations and exterior coatings, such as chrome plate, PVD.  They can also be made from different, application specific materials, such as Carbon Steel, Stainless 316 and Titanium.  With such a wide range of lengths and sizes it was important to work closely with Mills CNC to specify the correct machine, a challenge they rose to with ease.  

Both standard and customised products, however, do share many similarities with regard to their design and manufacture and comprise an outer body which contains nitrogen gas and lubricating oil, and a number of high-precision (turned) components -: valve blocks, pistons, spacers, rods, bearings, seals etc.

The end-fittings (used to mount/fix the Gas Springs into position) are also high-accuracy machined parts that often exhibit complex features and require sophisticated machining processes like spherical pocket milling to produce them.

These parts, previously sub-contracted out, are now being machined in-house on the new Lynx lathe.

Jon Aconley explains:

'To meet our manufacturing requirements we knew we needed a high-performance lathe capable of machining a range of different parts from a variety of materials.

'So, to help increase our productivity, shorten lead times and control our costs we were specifically looking for a flexible, competitively-priced multi-tasking machine that could produce completed parts in one hit.'

A visit to Mills’ campus facility in Leamington to see the new Lynx 220LSYA in action proved decisive to ALROSE PRODUCTS LTD in the search for an ideal machine solution.

Jon Aconley continues, 'The Lynx 220LSYA is powerful and versatile and has a small footprint – another key consideration for us.'

The machine is equipped with a Y-axis (+/- 52.5mm stroke), a 5.5kW 6,000 rpm sub-spindle and 3.7kW/6,000 rpm driven tool capability that allows multiple machining operations,  (turning, milling, drilling, threading, chamfering etc.) in one set-up.

To optimise production, the machine was also supplied with a Hydrafeed bar feeder capable of handling up to 1.5 metre length/50mm diameter bar stock and through modifications made to its feed system, Gas Spring rod components.

As impressive as the Lynx 220LSYA’s performance is – the machine tool itself wasn’t the only consideration for ALROSE PRODUCTS LTD.

'Equally important, bearing in mind that this was our first CNC machine tool investment, was the first-class after-sales service and support provided by Mills – especially with regard to their CNC programmer and operator training provision, and their applications help and advice', says Jon Aconley.

Since being installed the Lynx lathe has lived up to its billing and three members of staff have undertaken a five day training course at the CNC Training Academy.

High-precision parts are now being produced in-house and as a consequence, lead times and the cost-per-part have improved.

As the company becomes more familiar (and confident) with the machine and the CNC control – improvements in ALROSE PRODUCTS LTD's performance and productivity are expected to grow exponentially.

Jon Aconley concludes:

The decision to invest in our first CNC machine has been vindicated, and the choice of the Lynx 220LSYA lathe from Mills CNC has not only met our immediate machining requirements but will also help us realise our ambitious future growth plans too.

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