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Trust Precision Invests to in Small Turn Part Technology

Trust Precision Invests to in Small Turn Part Technology

Added to MTDCNC by MTDCNC on 10 December 2012

When Nick Street decided to start his own precision engineering company, he knew he had to offer something different and provide a service nobody could match.  With a focal point around Citizen’s latest top-of-the-range M32-VIII CNC sliding head turn mill centre, he knew his new venture – Trust Precision – would immediately be one step ahead of the competition.

His was the first ever UK installation of the M32-VIII supplied by Citizen Machinery UK – and it was Mr Street’s sole machine to provide his start-up capability – and since its installation in February, Trust Precision has gone from strength to strength. And not just because of the workpiece capabilities made possible by the latest M32’s 35 mm bar capacity – compared to the usual 32 mm sliding head machines available - but, importantly he says, also because the machine can accommodate “all, and more, of the tools I will ever require” for single set-up, one-hit turn-milling.

Indeed, so successful has Mr Street’s early venture into small part turning become that he has recently ordered and installed a Citizen A20-VII CNC sliding head turn-mill centre to accommodate more ‘basic’ machining cycles leaving the high specification M32 to add considerable value to more complex production parts.

It is these higher levels of flexibility available with the tooling along with the latest control software developments on the M32-VIII that, he says, has given Trust such an edge over competitors at a critical time.  For instance, the machine’s 10 station all-driven turret is able to carry multiple tool holders and the two-axis gang tool post has additional B-rotational slant axis - able to provide simultaneous 4-axis continuous contouring in conjunction with the main spindle Z1-axis feed. 

This means for example, the machine can be programmed to produce angled features or four-axis milling cycles and use up to three driven tools simultaneously.  In addition, the gang tool slide is able to carry five turning and four driven tools and a further nine tools, of which six are driven and three fixed, can be set on the back tool post.

“The Citizen offers so much more in terms of versatility for a wide range of ‘one-hit’ applications than any other machine we considered,” says Mr Street. “Because of this fantastic tooling capacity – there’s no need for me to ‘make do’ and the M32 can definitely do things no other machine can.”

He follows on to contribute how the M32-VIII actually offers a host of features that are incomparable in the marketplace.  He said, “It has this ability to apply a totally new level of flexibility in presenting different tools to a job that in my eyes really sets it apart from the rest.”

At 40 years of age and an experienced setter/operator, Nick Street decided to take the plunge and “plough everything I have into launching my own company.”  After formerly being employed to run two production engineering sites, one in the UK and another the Czech Republic, he had the opportunity to gain a considerable level of valuable experience.

Seven years ago, he successfully established programming, setting and organising the production of a cell comprising four sliding head machines that he maintains, worked brilliantly.  He said: “The process was based on commonsense really”, he quips, but his employer saw the benefits of what had been achieved with effective application of  turned/milled parts machining so tasked Mr Street with the auditing and reorganisation of all the firm’s operations – that involved every machining cell (including prismatic) in both factories.  He reflects: “With the challenging side of the operations completed successfully and all the cells running fine, as I approached my 40th birthday, I knew the time had come for me to do my own thing.”

He then adds: “There was no argument that this latest M-Series Citizen was the machine I just had to have if I were to have any chance of succeeding in this highly-competitive, well-established marketplace.  I knew it would provide a fantastic springboard not only for launch of the company but, crucially, for future growth - but I obviously couldn’t approach such an investment lightly!”

After discussing the situation with his wife and with his accountant, he met with Citizen Machinery UK at Bushey to discuss the M32-VIII and investigate available finance options Then the scene was set “to make one of the biggest decisions of my life” he maintains.

However, after some time ‘away’ from shopfloor programming and setting, Mr Street admits that he really needed a refresher into the latest ideas and developments that could make him just that bit more effective in turn-mill production.  Combined with the Citizen Machinery UK help in providing a significant level of training and support for the new machine, he singles out a close friend, Will Bradley (of Midland Precision Engineering, in Sandiacre) as being especially helpful.

Mr Bradley let him spend several days amongst his machines.  “This brought me right up to date and was a great help in getting me ‘back into the swing’,” he adds. “Also, I have found the Citizen Cincom CNC Wizard macros so very useful to help me to complete more than 70 different jobs.  Programming has been so quick and straightforward by using the Wizard. I basically use a standard program and simply cut and paste commands/input to suit the task,” he said.

Comprising a main spindle powered by 7.5 kW and a two-axis back spindle having a 3.7 kW drive, the Citizen M32-VIII features a 10-station all-driven turret with each position able to half-index and carry multiple tooling arrangements. This has a 1.5 kW, 6,000 revs/min motor and an extended Z-axis stroke to 212 mm.  As the turret can be indexed at any position without retraction to its return position, the index time is within 0.5 secs. 

As highlighted, the two-axis gang tool post carries incorporates a level of flexibility normally only seen on a machining centre with an additional B-rotational slant axis able to provide simultaneous four-axis continuous contouring in conjunction with the main spindle Z1-axis feed.  It is programmable between -10 deg and +95 deg for producing angled features or four-axis interpolated milling cycles using up to three driven tools.  In addition, the gang tool slide is able to carry five turning and four driven tools each powered by a 1 kW, 6,000 revs/min motor. 

A further nine tools, of which six are driven and three fixed, can be carried on the back tool post significantly improving the level of flexibility.  These tools are mounted in a triple stack multi-head positioned by the additional Y-axis in order to service the back spindle.  Each driven tool is powered by a 1 kW, 6,000 revs/min motor. 

In addition, “and a real bonus” says Mr Street, ‘The machine’s innovative ‘regenerative technology’ reduces overall power consumption by almost six per cent. When you add this to the faster cycles which can create savings of up to 30 per cent in normal non-cutting times I have a head start in being competitive on price.’

Both main and sub-spindles can regenerate power - much like the technology being developed in the automotive industry – which should lead to an average 5.7 per cent savings in power consumption (against the previous M32 generation) per component produced.  In addition savings of 90 per cent of the machine’s consumption can be achieved when it is switched-on but not in production.

Among the features that contribute to such savings is the fact that the Cincom CNC incorporates a graphical ECO-Monitor that tracks and displays information including power consumption and highlights performance ratios of operational times and set up, alarmed stoppages, cutting against non-cutting and overall times lost when the machine is not operating. 

In addition, automatic optimisation of axis overlap between moving elements during the cycle can also reduce non-cutting elements by up to another 30 per cent; spindle indexing is direct; and ‘auto skip’ functionality avoids elements that could create any negative influence on cycle times. 

“Within days of installation, the M32-VIII was attracting work in varying batch sizes,” adds Mr Street, and, in the ensuing weeks, the order book – for a variety of workpieces in all types of materials – continued to grow.  This came about largely by word of mouth and also via the fledging company’s website, www.trustprecisonengineering.co.uk, and now includes an ongoing export contract to supply parts to the Czech Republic.

As Mr Street recounts: “The initial urgent Czech order saw the drawing and specification emailed to me on a Friday and I was able to set the machine and despatch the parts on Monday. With an Iemca barfeed, and with appropriate automatic alarms sent direct to my mobile ‘phone, I can confidently leave the machine to run unattended so I can carry on with other issues during the day and at night.”

The Citizen A20-VII again provides high levels of specification and flexibility with 12 tools available for front and back machining, of which five are for turning and four are driven by a 0.75 kW 6,000 revs/min motor. The main spindle is powered by 3.7 kW and the sub-spindle by 1.5 kW, 8,000 revs/min drive. In its recently updated guise, the A20 has a further four tools on its additional back working tool post to increase flexibility and perform overlap machining. The machine also incorporates the latest generation of Citizen Cincom control and software.

He said: “There’s already enough ‘basic’ turn-mill work around now to justify this latest investment, and I know that the unrivalled capabilities of the M32-VIII will continue to attract new business. That’s the plan, anyway!”

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