Investment in high-performance vertical machining centre helps leading tool-making specialist cut aluminium extrusion dies down to size.
MACH Machine Tools, part of the Vigilance Group, has supplied Aluminium Extrusion Tooling (AET) Co Ltd., - a relatively new start-up company based in Gloucestershire - with a new MACH 710MM+ vertical machining centre.
The machine was installed at the company’s production facility in Staunton in July 2019.
Since its arrival the machine has been used to machine high-precision customised hollow, semi-hollow and solid extrusion dies for the company’s growing UK and international customer base which serves the building/construction, transportation, automotive, consumer goods, electrical and energy sectors.
Aluminium extrusion dies
The extrusion dies manufactured by AET can be made to create a virtually limitless array of shapes and sizes.
The dies themselves are machined from H13 tool steel and involve a number of machining methods and processes i.e. milling, wire and die-sink EDM and secondary finishing operations prior to them being heat treated (48HRC) for the final time, and assembled ready for dispatch.
Completed die sets, or die stacks, comprise a number of different components i.e. die rings, mandrels, mandrel holders, stems, dummy blocks, bolsters etc. All component parts are machined to high accuracy and surface finish and many, especially those used in hollow dies, have complex profiles and geometries often with intricate details and features.
AET manufactures a range of different diameter dies from 105mm to 550mm diameter. The MACH 710MM+ is being used to machine the smaller to medium sized diameter dies with the average size being 260mm diameter.
Lead times for delivery depend on the complexity of the die, and the customer. The typical lead time for less complex dies is seven days - with three weeks being the average for more complex dies.
Prior to COVID-19 outbreak AET manufactured (approximately) 120 dies per month.
Since the pandemic demand has dropped slightly but the company’s commitment to quality, lead time fulfilment and cost control have ensured that AET has won new orders during this period and strengthened its position as a premier extrusion die manufacturing specialist.
The MACH 710MM+ acquired by AET is a compact, high-performance 3-axis vertical machining centre (710mm x 400mm x 450mm - X-, Y- and Z-axis travels).
The machine has a chilled direct-drive 19kW/ 8,000rpm BBT40 face and taper spindle, a large working table (850mm x 410mm) with a 300kg maximum table load, a rapid change 24-position ATC and the Siemens 828D control with ShopMill conversational programming software included.
The machine is fast (48m/min) and, to ensure impressive accuracies and surface finishes, has a Meehanite construction and heavy-ribbed column design as well as linear guides on all three of its axes.
Explains Lee Knight, AET’s Director:
“We are in a competitive global industry.
“As a relatively new company making its way in the world it was important that we invest in advanced and proven machine tool technologies to ensure that we are able to meet customers’ quality requirements and delivery schedules, and to be within their cost parameters.
“The MACH 710MM+ is a technically excellent machine. It’s fast, accurate and reliable - all key performance attributes. We are particularly impressed with the machine’s smooth and responsive acceleration and deceleration, and its ergonomic design that provided great operator access to the machining area.”
MACH HIRE Lease
In addition to its performance another positive was that the machine was available immediately from stock and that it could be acquired on a three year MACH HIRE lease contract.
Says Ashley Jones, AET’s Production Manager:
“For a new start up like us, the MACH HIRE arrangement was attractive and made economic sense.
“With cash flow being a particular and pertinent consideration, the MACH HIRE facility meant we could get the machine without paying a deposit upfront and that the agreed monthly fee was fixed over the duration of the term and included Annual Service costs and Extended Warranty cover as well as machine tool delivery, installation, commissioning and training.”
Although the pandemic has ‘turned things upside down’ AET is confident about the future.
So much so in fact that the company has recently ordered (and has now had installed) a large-capacity vertical machining centre (X-axis = 1000mm/ Z-axis = 600mm) from Machine Tools Sales Online (also part of the the Vigilance Group) to machine its larger diameter dies (up to 500mm).
Concludes Lee Knight:
“Despite the pandemic the advanced machine tools we now have at our disposal makes us ideally positioned to capitalise on the upturn.”