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Seco invests in third 5 axis machining centre
Seco invests in third 5 axis machining centre
Seco invests in third 5 axis machining centre
Seco invests in third 5 axis machining centre

Seco invests in third 5 axis machining centre

Added to MTDCNC by MTDCNC on 07 June 2013

A third Hermle C 30 U 5-axis machining centre has been installed at Seco Tools (UK) for manufacturing bespoke tooling. The German-built machine, supplied by Geo Kingsbury Machine Tools, is different from the other two in that it is equipped with a manual Erowa system to help the operator load and unload pallets, rather than having a pallet pool for automatic exchange.

Seco's UK headquarters and factory, based in new, purpose-built premises in Alcester, is the Swedish group's worldwide centre of excellence for producing custom versions of Seco's high pressure Jetstream Tooling solution. It is also the only facility in the UK operated by a major tooling supplier that designs and manufactures custom tools for non-standard turning and prismatic machining applications. In the main, the bespoke tools accept industry standard inserts, including those manufactured by Seco in Fagersta, north-west of Stockholm.

Aerospace applications account for a significant proportion of Seco Tools (UK)'s turnover, a large part of which is generated by its Jetstream range of turning tools with high-pressure, through-coolant. Many of the tools are destined to machine tough alloys. Automotive, medical and energy are among the other sectors serviced. The rationale for using tooling designed for particular machining operations is either to improve access to difficult areas of a component, or to combine several operations into one, thereby reducing tool changes and cycle times.

The manufacturer's choice of a third machine from Hermle with Siemens 840D control stemmed from a desire to swap work seamlessly between the three 5-axis production centres. At the end of 2013, a 157-tool carousel will be retrofitted to the latest machine to bring its automatic tool change specification up to that of the first two C 30 Us on site.

These were supplied by Geo Kingsbury in the mid to late 2000s fitted with 12-station Erowa pallet pools. The automation capability of the two original machines is put to good use for overnight unmanned production of jobs proved out during the day and set up at the end of the manned shift. The flexibility of the automated cells allows the 1-off to 20-off batches of bespoke tools to be produced economically.

Additionally, the Alcester operation is occasionally asked by its parent company to produce larger quantities of standard product, such as thread milling cutters, for world markets. Such higher volume work is easily accommodated.

Options included on all the Hermle machines, including the latest model, are 4-arc-second accuracy for movement of the rotary table and the +30 / -115 degree trunnion, tool length measuring with offsets sent automatically to the Siemens control, tool breakage detection and high-pressure coolant. High productivity is promoted by the 18,000 rpm spindle and 45 m/min linear rapid traverse rates.

Hermle 5-axis machining centres are used extensively within the Seco group at its factories in Sweden, Germany, the USA and India as well as in the UK. The company regards the machines as having excellent accuracy and repeatability, partly because the trunnion-mounted rotary table is integral, not an add-on, and also because the mineral-cast bed minimises vibration. High precision machining is very important to Seco, as some features on its tools are tied up to 10 microns.

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