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New CNC  Doosan Puma 2600SY lathe installed at Tank Builder Armortek Ltd

New CNC Doosan Puma 2600SY lathe installed at Tank Builder Armortek Ltd

Added to MTDCNC by Mills CNC Ltd on 26 September 2012

Doosan multi-tasking lathe is used to make precision parts for Armortek, the world’s leading manufacturer of 1/6th scale armour kits.

Precision manufacturing specialist – Armortek Ltd – has recently invested in a new Puma 2600SY (sub-spindle and Y-axis) multi-tasking lathe supplied by Mills CNC.

The machine was installed at Armortek’s facility in Dunkerswell, near Honiton in Devon, in 2010 and is being used to manufacture a significant number of  ‘kit’ parts (from solid bar and billet, and castings) for the company’s product range - 1/6th scale tanks, armoured cars, half-tracks and field guns.

Parts machined on the Doosan 2600SY are many and varied.

There can be in excess of 300 different and unique component parts in every model tank manufactured by Armortek and a high percentage of them are made from aluminium with the remainder made from steel, brass and other metal alloys.

Production runs are relatively small and all parts are manufactured to high precision with a sizeable proportion exhibiting complex and intricate features.

The reason why Armortek selected a sub-spindle lathe with a Y-axis was to help improve the company’s productivity and achieve the component part accuracies required.

Says Director, Mark Watkins:

‘Prior to us investing in the new lathe we were relying on an older lathe and three machining centres to manufacture our parts.

This presented us with capacity problems as some parts, having been first turned on the lathe, were queuing up waiting to be completed on the machining centre. This caused us a few headaches when trying to achieve production deadlines and, as a consequence, we knew we had to invest in additional machining capacity to help cut lead times and to take the pressure off.

We knew that a multi-tasking lathe with a sub-spindle and Y-axis would allow us to speed up production, take pressure off our machining centre resource and allow certain parts to be completed in one set-up. In addition we also recognised that by reducing the need to transfer parts between machines would also help us maintain part accuracies and reduce the amount of work-holding and work handling required.’

The reason why the Doosan Puma 2600SY lathe was selected was due to its performance, availability, price and that it would be backed by Mills CNC’s after-sales service and support.

Says Director, Gill Watkins:

‘We are a small company and rely heavily on our machine tools working day in – day out. The after-sales service and support provided by the chosen machine tool manufacturer was of particular importance and Mills’ strength in this area influenced our decision making process.’

A closer look at Armortek

Armortek is a small, family business run by husband and wife team Mark and Gill Watkins.

A little over 10 years ago the company, then a small precision subcontract specialist based in the Midlands, was approached to see if it could make a prototype replica scale model of a Panzer IV tank in kit form.

It was, as Mark Watkins remembers, ‘a real watershed for the company.’

Continues Mark Watkins:

‘At the time the Panzer tank job was just that...one job, amongst many, that we had been asked to manufacture.

‘Little did we realise that it would spearhead a whole new direction for the company.’

After much research (using the Internet and specialist help from the Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset) into how the original (full scale) tank was originally designed, built and manufactured - decisions needed to be made concerning the manufacture of the model itself.

Says Mark Watkins:

‘Attention to detail was (and is) critical. We decided, for the sake of authenticity, to follow the original design concepts as much as possible to manufacture the 1/6th scale model.

‘So, if parts on the original tank were machined from solid or castings or had been fabricated - we decided to do the same.’

The Panzer IV prototype was completed and 25 more models in kit form were then manufactured to meet the growing demand.

Says Gill Watkins:

‘We realised quite quickly that there was a huge global demand for model military vehicles and used the Internet as a two-way tool – a) to help us identify which models were of interest to customers (mainly military vehicle and military history enthusiasts) worldwide – and b) to promote the company...our capabilities, our capacity etc., to these same customers.’

The last 10 years has demonstrated that Amortek’s business paradigm and approach has been successful.

Limited edition scale model kits of German Panzer and Tiger tanks, Soviet T34 tanks and US Sherman tanks, to name but a few, have all been manufactured and have sold out quickly.

Amortek’s latest model is the British Centurion MK5/2 tank.

A closer look at the model tanks

The 1/6th scale Armortek kits are visually and aesthetically impressive and this is matched by their performance.

They can be ordered as static models or, for the real enthusiast, can be supplied (or retro-fitted at a later date) with a number of radio-controlled options.

Radio-controlled models are equipped with industrial motors and control gear and are capable of pulling a 7.5 tonne truck or climbing a 45 degree incline. The average weight of each kit is around the 100 kilo mark and their design and construction means they can perform in the most demanding of terrains.

A special effects pack is also available and brings digitally recorded proportional sound to every model. Each sound is recorded from the full size vehicle.

If required a smoke generator can produce proportional smoke from the engine’s exhaust system and, possibly the most spectacular effects, are provided by Armortek’s newly-developed Recoil Module - a fully integrated sound and movement system that uses an Armortek amplifier module to provide a rapid recoil and gun flash - accurately replicating the action of the full size tank when firing.

Comprising some 1500 parts in total – kits are supplied to customers with a comprehensive assembly manual and can be assembled on a sturdy kitchen table or work bench using common, every day hand tools etc.

The future

The demand for Amortek’s 1/6th scale models is at an all time high with the USA being a major, and relatively untapped, market.

says Gill Watkins:

‘We are considering expanding our operations in the future and are exploring licensed manufacture of our kits in the US.

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