For many years we were exclusively a tool making business but while the tool making element is still important we are now subcontract machinists,” says Barry Sugden of A. Fawcett Precision Engineers.
A Fawcett has now invested in a CNC/manual lathe
“The industry sectors we work in – machine tools, oil and gas, and automotive, for instance – are very demanding. However, our customer base reflects our capability in terms of the high precision machining of tough materials, often up to such 60 HRc, such as duplex stainless steels, tool steels and exotic alloys. Broadly speaking, whatever the material, if a customer comes to us with anything from a DXF file to a dimensioned sketch, we can machine the component for them.”
In the past much of the tool making work involved one-offs and demanded a high level of skill on the part of individuals operating manual machine tools. So, although A. Fawcett Toolmakers (1983) Ltd, as it was previously known, has CNC milling experience, the installation in November 2008 of a CNC/manual lathe supplied by XYZ Machine Tools Ltd marked the company’s first move into CNC turning.
“We held back because we have a highly skilled manual turner who has been with the company for 25 years,” says Barry Sugden. “However, he is retiring soon and it seemed sensible to move into CNC turning well before this date because his knowledge and level of skill is becoming increasingly difficult to replace. We have been fortunate to recruit a young lad with CNC machining experience and this, combined with the ease of programming and versatility of the new lathe, means we are well placed for the future.”
The XYZ SLX 555 CNC/manual gap bed lathe installed in A. Fawcett Precision Engineers’ Elland factory is the 1.75 m between centres version of Constant surface speed is one of the options selected by Barry Sugden because, as he points out, “CSS gives the machined component a terrific finish and absolute consistency”. He also describes the machine’s screw cutting capability as “brilliant”, adding that this is one aspect of the new lathe that has really impressed his soon-to-be-retired colleague.
“We talked to another XYZ user before committing to the new lathe, and he pointed out that not only was this particular lathe easy to program and operate, it is not that much more expensive than buying a manual machine tool. The fact is that when you see the work coming off the machine, that’s when you see the money coming back, not least because the new lathe is opening up other areas of business for us.” http://www.engineeringcapacity.com/archive101/2009/august/machined_components/not_just_a_toolmaker