When most people think of the English Rivera, their first thoughts are of summer holidays or dipping their toes in the cold waters of the channel. But this holiday destination is also home to Casting Support Systems Group. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade winning company relocated to a new 60,000 Sq. ft facility in the town of Paignton two years ago. This is where the group undertake their three principal activities; Technical composite manufacture, Injection moulding (producing the popular Verstatote and Euro range of storage boxes) and the heart of the business, tool making under the banner of Investment Casting Systems where the group manufactures moulds for not only their products but also other moulding companies.

James Head, Managing Director, makes the statement:

“Tool making was and always will be our principal business and the other elements of CSS Group activities were derived from that original undertaking. ”As this is such an important part of the business, Investment Casting Systems has never hesitated to make investments in machinery that will ensure they can produce the best quality moulds and assist the highly skilled workforce to be as efficient as possible.”


Mr Head comments “XYZ Machine Tools have been our first port of call whenever we feel the need to invest in new machinery.” The toolroom reflects that when you look around to see a range of ProtoTRAK controlled mills and lathes, a Y-axis turning centre and a 5 Axis simultaneous VMC all supplied by the company. However, what stands out most as you view the toolroom is the number of XYZ 1060 HS vertical machining centres that are housed in the impressive facility.

With 4 machines of this model type currently being used, including a recent acquisition, Mr Head makes the observation “The 1060 HS offers a great work envelope for the mould work we do. The 1020mm in X, 610mm in Y and 620mm in Z provides a versatile workspace for the moulds we manufacture.”

It’s the latest machine added to the fleet that has impressed Head in more than one area. He mentions  “Having ordered the machine and having it delivered just one week later, commissioned the day after delivery and cutting parts that day is an impressive turnaround but, now it is in production we are seeing the time savings and improvements in the quality of moulds immediately.” This improvement is largely down to the fact that this version of the 1060 HS has a 15,000 rpm in line spindle which is housed in a temperature-controlled jacket. The temperature-controlling unit is also used to control the temperature of the ball screws. Enabling Mr Head and his team to see seamless transitions on the moulds when finishing with various tools on operations that can take up over 40 hours using high spindle speeds. If uncontrolled, heat generated by the spindle motor could lead to growth in the head casting and create problems matching surfaces when performing the finishing operations.

The toolmakers using the machine are also taking advantage of the standard features on the machine to improve productivity by running tools faster than before making the most of the 15,000 rpm spindle. The through spindle coolant capability ensures efficiency of cutting, the linear roller bearing provides smooth axis movement even at the rapid of 43m/min and the standard swarf conveyor allows the removed material to be ejected from the machine as the 40 to 50-hour cycles are run and, with 30 tools available in the arm type tool changer, there are reduced restrictions on how the team machine the moulds.

Mr Head also observes a step change in the way that the toolmakers are producing parts on the XYZ products. “We are moving back to producing programmes for many of the parts we manufacture on the control fitted to the machine and, although we have CAM available to us, for many of the parts, the engineers prefer to program on the Siemens 840DSL control using Shopmill conversational software rather than have to go into the office and sit at a PC. With the new machine having a 19-inch touch screen, producing programs is proving to be easy and intuitive”.

The Versatote Storage Container which the toolroom at Investment Casting Systems makes the mould tool for and manufacture1.5 million a year.

A new mould in manufacture for a half size Euro box which benefits from the 15,000 rpm spindle fitted to the XYZ 1060 HS.