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For 20 years Jon Sutton has run his Lymington-based precision CNC sub-contract machining business on traditional lines, providing CNC turning and milling capacity to customers across the UK from industries including oil & gas, power transmission and mould and die. Focussing on small batch work, typically around five-off, Jon Sutton Engineering has developed its capacity list accordingly, with CNC turning, vertical machining centre with 4th axis and two XYZ ProtoTRAK controlled turret mills providing good all-round capability. Towards the end of 2018, with one eye on the future, Jon began investigating the potential of fully simultaneous five-axis machining in order to add greater value to the service currently offered.

Jon Sutton (right) discussing machining strategy with operator Matthew Barfield.

“We provide a full service to customers from providing an initial quotation, material purchase, CNC machining, inspection and sourcing any sub contacted treatment processes. All of this is documented to ISO standards including full traceability for materials and production workflow,” says Jon. “Further to our 4th-axis machining we recognised the need to expand our capabilities into five-axis machining, allowing us to grow our customer base and take on more complex higher value work. After a detailed investigation of the five-axis market we settled on the UMC-5X from XYZ Machine Tools, a decision made not on cost, but machine specification and build quality.”

“One of the things that impressed us about the XYZ UMC-5X was the size of the bearing housings supporting both ends of the tilting A-axis, this quality of construction runs throughout the machine. Another key feature was the ease-of-access to the machine table and to be able to easily manipulate and load parts is a major benefit.” The relatively small footprint of the XYZ UMC-5X at less than 3.5m square disguises a significant machining capability with the 600 mm diameter table having a capacity to handle parts up to 600 kg. Axis travels of 600 by 600 by 500 mm (XYZ), with the machine design allowing 500 mm of Y-axis travel forward of the table surface, much greater than many Y-axes on competitor machines. These three linear axes are supported by full 360 degree C-axis rotation and +/- 120 degree A-axis tilt.

The rigid construction of the XYZ UMC-5X was a big factor in Jon Sutton’s decision to buy.
The step up from traditional four-axis CNC machining was relatively straightforward thanks to the Siemens 840DSL Shopmill control specified by Jon Sutton Engineering (the Heidenhain TNC 640 HSCI control is also available), along with the standard Traori and Kinematic functions for simultaneous five-axis machining. “Once we had decided on the XYZ UMC-5X we took the decision to order the highest specification we could”, so included the 48 position toolchanger, Blum laser tool pre-setting, Renishaw RMP600 workpiece probing and the 12,000 revs/min in-line direct drive spindle. By creating this specification the company is now in a position to be extremely price competitive when it comes to delivering components that require complex five-axis machining and it has enabled the company to further enhance its capabilities to their customers.

The performance/productivity benefits of the XYZ UMC-5X were highlighted on one recurring job, which previously required five milling operations (plus one turning operation) and therefore six set-ups. Transferring this job to the UMC-5X meant only a single milling operation/set-up was required. In addition to being cost efficient, productivity and quality is also improved as the machine’s construction allows optimum use of the latest cutting tool technology to achieve optimum cycle times and surface finish, this is combined with repeatability down to the micron level while machining materials such as Inconel, Titanium and Monel alloys, as well as general purpose steels.

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