Producing precision watch components

Founded in 2016, Geneva-based Badeco SA manufactures high-precision components for the watchmaking industry.

The company produces watch crowns, push-pieces, tubes, pinions, arbors, watch hands and parts for associated sectors, all on its in-house Tornos turning centres.
“We purchased two SwissNano CNC automatic lathes from Tornos as soon as we started our activities,” says managing director Stéphane Menoni. “Right from the start, they have proved to be particularly flexible and precise, while requiring minimum floor space.”
What was decisive, apart from the small footprint, was the flexibility of the SwissNano machines.
“Some high-precision components are manufactured in volumes up to 25,000 off, but it is also common practice to produce in small series or even perform one-off production,” says Menoni. “This means we can efficiently manufacture prototypes or spare parts.
“Since the space in our premises is restricted, we have installed the machines in an inverted position to gain additional space; this arrangement enables full access to the machining cell from the front,” he adds. “The machines are equipped with bar feeders and can be used for back machining as well as gear-cutting operations.”
Commissioning was quite easy, as Menoni affirms: “Just three days after the installation of the machines, the operator was fully familiar with set-up and operation. On the one hand, this was down to simplicity, and on the other it was the intuitive functions of the TISIS code editor. The latter is simply fantastic, since it allows program editing/transfer and tool selection, as well as machining process monitoring.”
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Top of the food chain

Dowson Food Machinery was established in Yorkshire in 1982 under the skilled entrepreneurship of founder John Murgatroyd.

He set about designing new products for slicing and bagging bread, and before long was supplying bespoke equipment and service support to many of the UK’s leading bakery groups, as well as to smaller independent and artisan bakers.
Now run by managing director Nick Lacey, the company exports across five continents and has machines installed at customers such as Warburtons and Hovis.
The success of the business meant that expansion was inevitable and, in 2015, it moved to a new 48,000 sq ft facility in Bradford, nearly three times the size of the original factory. Now employing 60 people and with the space for more equipment, new lines were designed to include products for speciality breads, flatbreads, rolls and tortillas.
The company’s main asset today is its in-house CNC machining capability.
“We offer more than our competitors,” explains James Carson, sales and marketing manager. “To have our own Haas machines on-site is not only economical, it gives us a level of control over quality and lead-time which we would never have by outsourcing.
“We can alter or modify a component to change the way a piece of equipment works, then test it straight away in-house.”
In 2017, Dowson decided to replace one of its lathes and, after careful research, invested in a Haas ST-15 turning centre with a 15 kW, 4,000 rpm spindle and 210 mm chuck. “You get a lot of bang for your buck,” says purchasing manager Andrew Sands. “We paid less for the ST-15 than we did for a lathe we bought 10 years ago, and it more than matches it for accuracy and reliability.”
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Lathe control offers new functionality

Heidenhain’s top-of-the-range lathe control, the CNC Pilot 640 is now available with a number of new upgrades.

Most notably, a newly developed Turn Plus feature is now standard on new purchases. Turn Plus allows the creation of a lathe program at the push of a button, with up to 90% time savings, says Heidenhain.
The latest versions of the control software also include other improvements, such as added functional safety (FS) features and expansions that provide the machine operator and machine tool builder with more benefits.
Heidenhain’s CNC Pilot 640 contouring control allows five-axis simultaneous machining and combined turn-mill operations, full surface machining with B axis and counter spindle, as well as up to three channels for asynchronous multi-side machining.
Multi-touch operation permits swiping and zoom functions, while high-resolution 3D simulation graphics have been added. Machining operations with one or several set-ups (multi-channel operation) can be programmed separately through structured programming. The maximum number of controlled axes and spindles has been increased to 24 using appropriate options.
Heidenhain’s CNC Pilot 640 lathe control is available in two screen formats: 19“and 15.6“, with up to 25 configurable fields. The control also now works with Heidenhain’s display hand-wheels HR 520 (FS), and the HR 550 FS radio hand-wheel system. New CFRCompactFlash memory cards and SIKs are also available.
For those interested in connected machining, the CNC Pilot 640 can be incorporated into such systems by utilising the Heidenhain options Remote Desktop Manager (option 133) and StateMonitor for capturing machining data.
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Increasing productivity to meet demand

Unicut Precision invested over £1.5m in seven machine installations during late 2017, of which six were by Citizen Machinery UK.

The Citizen-supplied machines comprised two Miyano BNE-51MSY fixed-head and four Cincom L12-VII sliding-head turn-mill centres, with one featuring Low Frequency Vibration (LFV) technology. This contribution to improve productivity targets has helped to make 2018 a clear sales record for the subcontractor, putting the firm well on target to hit sales of £5m this year.
Says managing director of the Welwyn Garden City based firm Jason Nicholson: “Our order book reflects our revised strategy to move from being a subcontract machinist – reacting to orders as they roll in – to one that continuously generates business from being a ‘supply partner’. In this role, we have a willingness to invest and align our production capability across the company to customer product and delivery needs.”
Unicut is shipping on average 1.2 million parts a month and processes 370 different product orders, of which a third is directly exported. In addition, as the company has moved forward, it has added the responsibility to provide some 30 different ‘direct-to-line’ assemblies and sub-assemblies to customers.
The decision to install two Miyano BNE-51MSY fixed-head machines followed the firm’s market review of twin-turret, two-spindle turn-mill centres. The discussions also included the replacement of sliding-head machines that were concluded with four Cincom L12-VII models arriving, of which one was specified with LFV cutting technology.
On the Citizen Cincom machines, the patented LFV technology is not based on changing macros at the CNC but on the initiation of selectable G-code sequences programmed at the machine control to impart the most appropriate size of chip to be produced.
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The UK’s largest vertical turning lathe

Sheffield Forgemasters has installed the UK’s largest five-axis vertical turning lathe (VTL) – manufactured by Spanish company BOST – as part of a £6m upgrade to its machining facilities that will improve capacity and throughput for complex machining requirements.

Commissioning of the VTL was attended by delegates from Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, which helped to fund the VTL installation, alongside senior supply chain partners and officials from BOST and its UK supplier, McDowell Machine Tools.
David Bond, CEO, says: “The improvement to our machining facilities is of particular interest to customers in the defence industry as the VTL has superior accuracy and will significantly reduce lead times on delivery for crucial components, both for the UK and US submarine programmes. Our new VTL will also have significant implications for the machining of domed or cylindrical components, such as those required in the civil nuclear power market and pressure vessel sector.”
Weighing almost 250 tonnes, the BOST VTL required the removal of 6000 tonnes of earth and 3400 tonnes of concrete to create a foundation. The machine has a maximum machining height of 4 m, maximum swing diameter of 8.5 m, table weight capacity of 100 tonnes and embraces the Industry 4.0 strategies of process control, adaptive control and real-time interactive maintenance protocols.
Stuart McDowell, managing director at McDowell Machine Tools, says: “BOST hydrosphere machines offer the key benefits of being extremely heavy, rigid and powerful, yet are still capable of the highest levels of accuracy. This technology is a significant investment for Forgemasters and gives the company capability unrivalled in the UK and matched by only a handful of companies throughout the world.”
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