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The finish off the Hermle machines is superb - Norjon Engineers

The finish off the Hermle machines is superb - Norjon Engineers

Added to MTDCNC by MTDCNC on 25 July 2012

Subcontractor and mouldmaker, Norjon Engineers, has more than doubled the size of its factory to 14,000 sq ft, following a 60 per cent increase in turnover in 2011 compared with the previous year. Growth has continued at around 25 per cent in the first half of 2012. The new, modern facility on the Quay West Business Centre in Gosport was officially opened earlier this year by the MP for Gosport, Caroline Dinenage.

Five years ago, owner and managing director Kevin Fox bought his first two 5-axis Hermle machining centres, both C 20 Us with 600 x 450 x 450 mm working volume, to produce aluminium and brass thermoforming moulds. They are supplied to the food industry for the production of plastic packaging such as yoghurt pots, food trays and disposable cups and lids.

Mr Fox said, &ldquoSurface finish is important, as good cosmetic appearance is a prerequisite for plastic packaging in the consumer industry. The finish off the Hermle machines is superb, so we do not have to hand-polish the moulds after machining.&rdquo

Rapids of 45 m/min and an 18,000 rpm spindle ensure fast cycle times, while the robust rotary table and trunnion arrangement with its bearings set directly into the mineral casting that forms the bed ensures that tight tolerances can be easily held. This is the case even during full 5-axis machining of deep features with steep draught angles.

It was not long before Mr Fox started transferring subcontract jobs from 3-axis equipment to the C 20 Us to take advantage of more efficient production in fewer set-ups that result from automatically positioning and clamping the extra two axes.

Much of the work at Gosport requires machining of aluminium-bronze and Duplex stainless steel to produce seals for a customer in marine propulsion. The yachting, printing and power generation industries are other regular users of Norjon's services. The company is also a supplier to the motorsport, aerospace and medical industries, while new business has been won recently supplying subsea and petrochemical equipment manufacturers. Some tolerances are extremely tight, exceptionally down to 2 microns total, while 5 microns on some oil and gas parts is routinely held.

As component sizes started to increase, Mr Fox required larger 5-axis machines and opted in 2011 for two larger Hermle C 40 U models with 850 x 700 x 500 mm travels. One has an 18,000 rpm spindle commensurate with the high proportion of aluminium machined at Gosport, while the other has a 10,000 rpm, high-torque spindle for heavier cutting of steels and harder materials.

Across all of the Heidenhain controls on the Hermle machines and on some other machining centres on site, programming is carried out on the shop floor around half of the time. Preparing cutting cycles for the other 50 per cent of jobs, generally the more complex parts requiring 4- and 5-axis machining, is performed using seats of Delcam and Alphacam. They are also used to import customers&rsquo data in most formats.

Norjon, which holds BS EN ISO 9001:2000 quality approval and employs a highly skilled workforce of 30, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in September. In addition to the Hermle machining centres, the subcontractor has invested heavily in a variety of machines in the recent past.

It has acquired a co-ordinate measuring machine to work alongside traditional metrology equipment in a dedicated inspection department, two new turn-mill lathes, other prismatic machining plant and a Matrix tool vending machine through Taegutec. It also operates machines for wire EDM, cylindrical and surface grinding, manual milling, manual turning, gear cutting and laser engraving.

Mr Fox concluded, "Our company motto is 'nothing is so good that it cannot be made better'. That is why we strive for constant improvement in everything we do.

"Our policy is to look to the top end of the machine tool market and buy on spec, without having particular work in mind for any given machine or bothering about payback times.

"It is an approach that has served us well. We have 10 times the turnover we had 10 years ago and progressed from a single shift to 24 hour working in May 2011."

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