Mills CNC supplies precision specialist with milling machine - a first of it's kind to be installed in the UK

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Pioneering precision subcontractor Qualiturn Products has invested in an automation-ready, high-performance Doosan 5-axis machining centre from Mills CNC to increase productivity. PES reports.

Mills CNC, the exclusive distributor of Doosan machine tools in the UK and Ireland, has supplied Hertfordshire-based, precision subcontract specialist Qualiturn Products with a new high-performance Doosan DVF 5000, 5-axis machining centre.

The machine, one of the first of its kind to be installed in the UK, was acquired by Qualiturn to significantly strengthen its in-house milling capabilities and capacity.

The DVF 5000 was installed at Qualiturn’s modern and spacious 20,000ft² facility in February 2019. The machine’s delivery was timed to coincide with the company’s relocation to these new premises which occurred, and was completed, in the same month.

A move to milling

Although Qualiturn as its name suggests was originally established back in 1974 as a turning subcontract specialist, the company has in recent years invested heavily in a number of high-quality Doosan machining centres to offer a premium milling machining subcontract service to its customers.

These machines, a DNM 650 with a fourth/fifth-axis unit; a DNM 400 Mk II and a DNM 500 Mk II were installed at the company’s previous facility in 2013, 2015 and 2016 respectively.

The machines are the mainstay of the company’s Qualimill subcontract milling department where the machining of high-precision, complex components in mixed batch sizes from a range of materials – such as aluminium, steel, stainless steels and plastics – takes place and the DVF 5000, naturally, has been installed in this department.

“We operate a high-productivity, highly-efficient and flexible milling cell that runs 24/7 and that provides customers with high-quality, competitively-priced machined components – delivered in double quick time,” says Qualiturn’s managing director Nick Groom. “The DVF 5000 investment was made to improve our milling capabilities and complements our existing milling technologies.”

The drive to automation

Qualiturn is no stranger to multi-axis machining or automation. The company has an extensive range of sliding and fixed head lathes, all integrated with bar feeders and all with milling (driven tooling) capabilities.

Since 1990 the company, through its technology investments and commitment to continuous improvement, has embraced lights-out operations in its turning department enabling it to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – with just its daytime staffing levels.

The Doosan DVF 5000 integrated with the Lang Robo-Trex flexible automated system at Qualiturn’s new facility in Hertford

“We are keen advocates of one-hit machining and, wherever possible, look to automate our processes,” Mr Groom comments.

This commitment to continuous improvement through automation led Qualiturn back in 2014 to invest in its first Lang Robo-Trex robot system for its Qualimill operation.

“We wanted to achieve similar high productivity and efficiency results across our milling operations as those achieved in our turning department,” Mr Groom says.

A robotic solution

The Robo-Trex system is a sophisticated and proven automation solution. The system uses mobile trollies which are loaded with multiple vices that hold workpieces. The workpieces when prepped are loaded into the Doosan DNM 650 machining centre by the system’s robot.

“The robot picks workpieces from the trollies and loads them into the DNM machine. When the parts are machined to completion they are returned to the trollies. Once a trolley is filled with machined parts, it is removed and replaced with another trolley loaded with new workpieces that require machining. The system allows the DNM 650 machining centre to run, unattended, all day and all night if required.” Mr Groom explains.

Successive cells

Such was the success of the DNM 650/Lang Robo-Trex automated manufacturing cell that the company decided to invest in a second. However, rather than merely replicating the milling technology used in the first cell, the company investigated the potential of using a 5-axis machining centre – and ultimately decided on investing in a new Doosan DVF 5000 machine.

“We have a good relationship with Mills CNC and have a high regard for the Doosan machine tools they sell and support,” Mr Groom continues. “Even though we predominantly use our existing DNM 650 machine, with its fourth/fifth axis table, for five-face (3+2 and 4+1 positional) machining, we recognised that an investment in a 5-axis machine tool that provided full 5-axis simultaneous machining capabilities was a logical progression for us; one that could well future-proof our milling requirements.”

Key requirements for Qualiturn’s new 5-axis machine were many and varied, and included the following: the new machine needed to be compact and have a small footprint; be configured for automation (i.e. automatic door open/close facility and good access for robot loading and unloading); have full simultaneous 5-axis machining capability; have high-accuracy and high-speed machining capabilities; be equipped with a generous sized toolchanger; be supplied with a Fanuc control; and be augmented with first-class technical back-up and aftersales support.

“The DVF 5000 ticked all the boxes and, following its installation in February 2019, has been integrated with our second Lang Robo-Trex system. The cell is fully operational and runs 24/7,” Mr Groom concludes.

“The DVF 5000 is a high-performance machine and, by integrating it with an automated parts handling system, we have been able to exploit its true, and full potential. As a result, we have experienced dramatic productivity gains and significantly reduced lead-times – both of which make us more competitive.”

The Doosan DVF 5000 is a compact, rigidly-built machine that provides precision component manufacturers with full simultaneous 5-axis machining. It is equipped with a powerful 17.5kW/12,000rpm directly-coupled spindle (a 22kW/18,000rpm built-in spindle option is also available) and a 500mm by 450mm worktable with 400kg maximum table load (a larger 630mm by 450mm table option is available).

(Source: PES Magazine)