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Miniature railway manufacturing specialist invests in a compact, high-performance Doosan vertical machining centre to help ramp up production and improve operational efficiencies.

Mills CNC, the exclusive distributor of Doosan machines in the UK and Ireland, has supplied 17D Ltd., a leading family-owned miniature railway manufacturing specialist, based in Matlock, Derbyshire, with a new Doosan vertical machining centre.

The machine - a compact, high-performance DNM 4500 - was installed at 17D’s (2,500sq. ft.) facility in July 2020, and is being used to machine a range of precision components, that include live steam locomotive part, made from a diverse range of materials that include aluminum, cast iron, and carbon steel.

17D, established in 2010, manufactures a range of scaled working models of locomotives, carriages, and wagons for three miniature railway gauge systems.

In addition to designing and manufacturing miniature locomotives and associated rolling stock, the company is focused, and devotes significant time and resources, on producing and supplying high-quality, cost-competitive, and quick turnaround parts and spares for a myriad of the UK and internationally-based customers that include hobbyists and private collectors through to clubs and commercial organisations.

The company has a strong reputation in the markets it serves and is highly regarded. And to maintain its market-leading position and competitive edge, 17D invests regularly in its plant, equipment, processes, and systems.

The company’s commitment to continuous improvement combined with a dramatic and sudden upsurge in demand for its machined parts were the driving forces behind 17D’s new DNM 4500 machine tool investment.

 Partner at 17D, Tristan Dengate, explains:

“Business had been growing incrementally but the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a sharp and dramatic increase in demand from hobbyists who, having been furloughed as part of the lockdown, had time on their hands.

“This increase in demand was putting a strain on our existing machine tools so, to ensure we could meet customer expectations, we made the decision to strengthen our capabilities and invest.”

17D has a variety of CNC and manual machines at its disposal and in November 2019, strengthened its turning operations by investing in a used 6” chuck/51mm bar diameter Doosan Lynx 220LM lathe equipped with a C-axis and driven tools.

Tristan continued:

“The arrival of the Lynx lathe had an immediate and positive effect helping us to reduce part cycle times, eliminate production bottlenecks, and improve lead time fulfillment."

The machine’s arrival and subsequent performance also ‘converted’ 17D into becoming Doosan machine tool advocates:

“The increase in demand for machined parts, which started at the onset of the pandemic in April, was putting pressure on our milling resources. We needed additional milling capacity and capabilities and we needed them fast!

“Our experience with the Lynx 220LM helped narrow down our choice: put simply we wanted a Doosan.”

17D drew up a list of key requirements, investigated the market and approached Mills CNC.

“We needed a versatile, high-performance machine: one that could deliver high (and accurate) metal removal rates combined with an ability to machine intricate part details and features, and achieve super-fine surface finishes”, says Tristan.

To help reduce part cycle times the machine also needed to be able to cope with high speeds and feeds, and aggressive depths of cut. The company had narrowed down its choice to a DNM 4500 machining centre and, with funding in place via an EU Grant, placed the machine order with Mills CNC.

Tristan concluded:

“The DNM 4500 is a great addition to our operation. We are confident that the machine will be more than instrumental in helping us further grow our business - not just with our miniature railway customers but also with customers (from other sectors) looking for a proven, high-quality machining subcontract specialist.”