For those familiar with the use of lasers for marking and perforating, the name ES Precision may have a familiar ring to it, as it was created when Rofin Group merged with Coherent, and group member ES Technology didn’t fit the new strategy and was closed. Seeing an opportunity, directors Tim Millard and Andy May bought the assets of the business, even remaining in the same Kingston Bagpuize location, to create ES Precision in October 2017. Those assets included a number of laser marking and drilling systems, along with a small-batch machining capability - a mix of manual lathes and two XYZ ProtoTRAK controlled mills. The lasers and machine tools are now being put to work providing a sub-contract service combining the best of both worlds.
“The machining side of the business was originally in place to provide in-house support for ES Technology’s production of bespoke laser processing systems,” says Andrew May, Director, ES Precision. “The continuation of this in-house machining is there to support the manufacture of fixtures, mandrels, etc. for our laser marking jobshop, but we saw a great opportunity to address the need for a local, personal service for low volume machining to the same industries the lasers address: motorsport, medical and general industrial.
To balance the 50 years’ combined laser experience Tim and Andrew already had, they employed several people from their previous company who had knowledge of machining and production scheduling, a combination that Tim Millard points out “brings both technical excellence and experience to our young company.”
The experience in laser processing ensured the business was on a sound footing from day one, and business quickly developed, providing medium to high volume laser marking and drilling to a wide range of industries, including Formula One, automotive, aerospace, electronics and the medical device sectors. The latter linking the laser and machining sides of the business perfectly, where ES Precision is working with its customer Blatchford, a leading manufacturer of prosthetic limbs to laser drill its Silicare Breathe liners to allow perspiration to escape and make the life of amputee athletes more comfortable. These liners come in a range of sizes and require fixturing in order to laser drill precisely. The fixtures are machined on the XYZ ProtoTRAK mills. “In using the XYZ machines to produce fixtures for our in-house requirements we recognised the potential to add low-volume sub-contract machining to our list of services,” says Tim Millard, Managing Director, ES Precision. “For us the XYZ ProtoTRAK mills are ideal for R&D and small batch production and we are targeting the machining of one-offs and two-offs that are of no interest to more conventional sub-contract machine shops. We can justify that type of work due to the efficiency of the ProtoTRAK control when it comes to generating programs and the fact the machines are not fully utilised for our in-house requirements.”
The two XYZ mills include the most recent acquisition, an XYZ SMX SLV which with 1000 mm of X-axis travel makes this one of the largest turret mills on the market. The ProtoTRAK control gives the machine three axis CNC movement and the combination of a 3.75 kW (5 HP), vari-speed spindle, with ranges from 70-3600 revs/min, make it a highly versatile machine for the type of work undertaken by ES Precision. The ProtoTRAK control with its conversational programming along with canned cycles for a wide array of machining processes, makes for fast and accurate programming. “The ProtoTRAK control is key to our ability to provide the machining service that we do. The speed and ease that we can create programs at the machine control means that producing complex shapes and forms is straightforward,” says Tim Millard. “Our laser capacity makes use of modern laser sources including fibre, YAG and CO2, meaning we can mark, etch and drill a wide range of materials, by combining that with a low-volume machining capacity we feel we have a complete business that can provide customers with an all-round professional partnership.”