When a Hereford-based precision machinist company wanted to enhance its production capacity to break into new markets, it identified Yamazaki Mazak ’s latest, fully simultaneous 5-axis machining centre as the catalyst for change.
Moving into 5-axis work can be a daunting proposition for machine-users accustomed to more conventional two and three-axis work. “When we were first looking for 5-axis machining solutions for our workshop, it was crucial to us that any machines we selected wouldn’t just offer very precise machining capability – that had to be almost a given,” says Brandon Davies, Managing Director of NuMachine. “The key points for us were that the machine also operated as a turnkey solution once installed, so we could hit the ground running and also that we would have the right level of support as we made the transition.”
NuMachine specialises in the precision machining of small-to-medium batches of component parts in multiple materials, including aluminium, stainless steel, and non-ferrous materials, such as engineered plastics. Formerly known as PK Engineering and traditionally a supplier to laboratories and the instrumentation, aerospace and process industries, the company rebranded as NuMachine in 2020 as it looked to break into the automotive and electric vehicle sector.
Key to this refocusing was identifying solutions that could meet the more complex machining requirements required of these markets, as Brandon Davies explains. “As the company took its first steps as NuMachine, we wanted to ensure our ambitions as a business were matched by the calibre of our production equipment,” he said. “Having analysed the sectors we were wishing to target, we quickly came to the conclusion that we needed to invest in solutions with fully simultaneous 5-axis capabilities. Beyond this, we also wanted to work with a machine tool provider that could make our vision of high-quality complex machining a reality.”
The supplier that ticked all the boxes for NuMachine was Yamazaki Mazak. Mazak, whose UK Applications Engineering team had previously worked closely with Numachine’s engineers on a prototype part for a castings customer supplying components to a supercar manufacturer. This close collaboration sowed the seeds for what would become a very close working relationship.
“Our previous work with Mazak, and the first-hand experience of the support they offered, put our minds at ease that if we were to opt for a Mazak solution, it would be fine-tuned to our exact standards prior to on-site installation.”
With convenience and additional machining capability in mind, NuMachine opted to invest in two CV5-500 units – Mazak’s newest fully simultaneous 5-axis machining centre. At just 2,300 mm x 2,790 mm, the machine is the most compact 5-axis machine in its class, and is designed to deliver a step-change in productivity for both seasoned and new 5-axis users.
It is equipped with a 12,000 rpm spindle, capable of a peak performance of 18.5 kW and 119.4 Nm, making it suitable for the wide range of materials used by NuMachine. The machine delivers agile performance, with rapid traverse rates of 36 m/min in the X-, Y- and Z-axes, and can process work pieces up to Ø500 mm x H320 mm, and up to 200 kg in weight.
Additionally, the CV-500’s high-rigidity bridge construction and fully supported trunnion table, combined with a constant overhang headstock that allows it to maintain machining rigidity even at the full extent of the Z-axis stroke, means it can deliver extreme accuracy. As such, it was ideally suited to the machining applications in the automotive and electric vehicle charging sector that NuMachine wished to undertake.
Brandon continues: “Being relatively new to this role it is the first time I have personally worked with Mazak, and I’ve been very impressed with the level of support, training and guidance we received to integrate the new technology into our operations. Our investment in two CV5-500s has enabled us to machine very complex parts with one machine rather than having to use multiple machines to complete different machining operations. We’re automatically more productive because we’ve eliminated extra setups and programmes.”
He continued: “They’re also really good at producing intricate profiles and forms very efficiently. On some jobs we’ve taken six or seven setups down to one, which has made a colossal difference to cycle times and ultimately our bottom line and profitability.
“I would say the CV5-500s’ standout qualities are the Smooth X control, the compact size and the excellent build quality. And it is a real plus that Mazak manufactures the CV5-500 in the UK, so we’re supporting British industry.”
This combination of more efficient, streamlined and accurate machining has been instrumental to NuMachine’s growing order book. With the company now able to make more complex parts at higher volumes, it has been able to offer additional services to new and existing customers. It has also been able to explore new opportunities in Design for Manufacture, or DFM, which involves optimising machined parts through efficient engineering, improving component quality and production capabilities while reducing the potential for discrepancies.
“Having the ability to really finetune our machining capabilities on an ongoing basis has not only allowed us to get to grips with 5-axis work extremely quickly, it has resulted in optimised processes that have increased the business’s competitiveness,” Brandon concludes. “Ultimately, our CV5-500s have enabled us to achieve both a step-change in accuracy and reduced lead times, so we can deliver more precise work in less time. Because of this, we are now looking to expand beyond our traditional UK customer base, and explore opportunities in European markets like Germany.”
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