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WRW continue to invest in Haas technology

WRW continue to invest in Haas technology

Added to MTDCNC by HAAS Automation on 18 March 2015

Founded in 1953 in Walton-on-Thames, WRW Engineering Ltd supplies precision machined parts, along with finished assembled products, to the medical and aerospace industries. Current owners Peter Wreford and James Porter have been investing heavily in new equipment and factory space. Today, the company employs 14 people, 8 of whom are CNC operators, the remainder working in the busy assembly department.

'Four years ago we bought the unit next door and doubled our workspace, ' James Porter says. 'At the same time we bought two Haas Mini Mills, a VF-2 vertical and an SL-20 lathe. We purchased our first Haas mill in 1991, one of the first to come into the UK, and have continued investing in Haas technology ever since. Standardising on the Haas platform makes it easier to schedule work, and to move employees from machine to machine. Our most recent investment was a Haas EC-400 twin pallet horizontal.'

'We know how good the Haas machines are,' adds Peter Wreford, 'otherwise we wouldn’t keep buying them. The specifications, cost and especially the footprint of the EC-400 just couldn’t be beaten. Everything else out there seems to be huge and double the price.'

Most people appreciate that horizontals have a real advantage. Rather than forcing swarf out of vertical holes, the horizontal lets gravity do its job – swarf falls effortlessly out of the way. Instead of endmills cutting and recutting swarf, which destroys the tool's cutting edge, the horizontal maintains clean cutting conditions for the tool. The results: less swarf clogging, leading to a better surface finish and double or triple tool life.

'We’re currently using the EC-400 horizontal to make vacuum pumps for radiotherapy machines,' James Porter explains. 'A vacuum in the waveguide has to be maintained so that electrons don’t collide with gas molecules, as this would prevent them reaching the target. What’s referred to as a ‘very high vacuum’ is required, so the precision required for these components is tight. We’ve our own clean room equipped with a Mitutoyo CMM, so we know that the EC-400 actually exceeds its reported figures for accuracy.'

'The vaccuum pump component is cut in two operations. We load a tombstone with two mild steel blanks on each face, making a total of eight. One pallet does the front of the part, the other does the back.  The machine is run for 16 hours a day and doesn’t stop cutting, it never needs a lunch break or a tea break.' Peter Wreford adds with a smile. 'It runs pretty long cycles, meaning an operator can look after more than one machine. We get two pallets completed during the day, and another is loaded for lights-out operation overnight.'

The servo-driven pallet changer on the EC-400 swaps pallets in just 8 seconds, and each 400 mm pallet has a load capacity of 450 kg. A separate load station allows the operator to safely load/unload parts or change fixtures on one pallet while parts are being machined on the other, keeping spindle run time at a maximum.

'We program our machines directly at the control,' says Peter Wreford. 'The Haas control has templates for nearly every possible setup scenario. In many cases, we simply locate the template for what we would like to do, fill in the on-screen questions, press the enter key and then hit the cycle start button.

'The EC-400 is fitted with the Haas wireless probing system, which reduces our set-up times. The system includes a tool-setting probe and a spindle probe. The toolsetting probe sets all our tool lengths and diameters in a fraction of the time it would take to do this manually. The spindle probe locates the work origin just as easily.'

'We’re delighted with our choice to invest in the Haas EC-400,' concludes James Porter. 'It’s without doubt the best buy we’ve ever made.'


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