(Above) Mould tool produced by Golf Tees and promotions on its XYZ VMC 710 and XYZ MiniMill 560 machines.

Independent research shows that The Masters Golf Company based in Portishead, Bristol is the most purchased brand for golf equipment across Europe. Its sales, through pro-shops, distributors, and retail stores, cover everything from tees to clubs, with the business mixing wholesale with manufacturing. Following an amalgamation with specialist injection moulding and toolmaker Golf Tees and Promotions, one of its suppliers, it is now expanding its on-site production and providing toolroom machining capability on a sub-contract basis, with the help of XYZ Machine Tools.

The two businesses came together when The Masters Golf Company needed a company to manufacture plastic golf tees in high volumes. Already in that business Golf Tees and Promotions, based in Paddock Wood, Kent at the time, provided that initial manufacturing capacity. However, given the high volumes and low value of golf tees the production was offshored to China for a period, but in reality, as volumes grew, with a projected 50 million tees being manufactured in 2015, the reality of limited manufacturing cost savings combined with the logistical and lead time issues saw The Masters Golf Company bring the work back onshore to the UK and back to Golf Tees and Promotions.

The probing on the XYZ Machines has saved countless hours setting the machine and tools and I wouldn’t be without them

With the return of this work Terry Holmes, the owner of Golf Tees and Promotions, decided to invest in new machine capacity to enhance his mouldmaking capability. The arrival of an XYZ MiniMill 560 vertical machining centre, along with an XYZ ProTURN SLX 1630 CNC lathe enhanced the toolmaking capabilities of Golf Tees and Promotions, with the XYZ MiniMill 560 employed for complex 3D machining work. To create the programs for these moulds, many of which can have over 100 000 lines of code, Terry makes use of Mastercam software to create the model of the component and then generate the tool paths for virtually 100 per cent of his workload, which he was already familiar with. Therefore, at the time the machine was purchased the training provided by XYZ Machine Tools simply covered the basic machine control and the application of the Renishaw OPM40 and TS27R part and tool setting probes, which were ordered as an option with the machine. “While we were aware that the Siemens control was a powerful system, I had never programmed at the machine, being more than happy with what Mastercam was doing for me. However, probing was a new concept for me and the training that XYZ gave me on the application of the part and tool probing has proved invaluable. The probing on the XYZ Machines has saved countless hours setting the machine and tools and I wouldn’t be without them,” says Terry Holmes.

As the customer/supplier relationship continued to strengthen between The Masters Golf Company and Golf Tees and Promotions the decision was taken to bring both businesses under one roof, with the two companies amalgamating at the Portishead headquarters of Masters Golf. The additional space created in the move gave the opportunity to look at further investment in the toolroom. Therefore, along with updated EDM capacity, an XYZ VMC 710 was installed, again complete with the Renishaw probing package that Terry Holmes found invaluable on his MiniMill 560. While Terry remained reliant on his knowledge of Mastercam to produce complex mould tool programs, he was also becoming more aware that the Siemens 828D Shopmill control on the MiniMill 560 and VMC 710 could bring additional benefits to the production of mould tools. “We had certain niggles with some routines from Mastercam, that we knew we could overcome with use of the Siemens conversational programming, but my lack of on-machine programming meant that I couldn’t exploit those features,” says Terry.

Terry had only taken one day of training when he purchased the ProTURN lathe and MiniMill 560 he then made use of the balance of his training to upgrade his knowledge of the Siemens Shopmill features. XYZ applications engineer John Loader visited Terry on-site for a day and went through all of the conversational elements of Shopmill to cover straightforward cycles such as rough and finish face milling, pocketing, deep hole pecking, tapping and some contour milling. They then moved on to G-code programming including the high speed cycle feature of the control, calling of sub-programs from CF cards and probing during part production.

With only two days training taken in total by Terry, he is now fully maximising the potential of the XYZ MiniMill 560 and the XYZ VMC 710, producing some extremely complex mould tools. With more training days still to be taken these will be utilised when the latest recruit joins the business and will take in more advanced features of Shopmill for contouring and the transformation options that assist with the machining of cylindrical workpieces and, in particular, swivelled workpiece planes.

Now that the new machine is in place and the relocation is complete, with production running smoothly, Terry can now turn his attention to providing toolroom services on a sub-contract basis to a much wider customer base ranging from the promotional gift sector, retail and entertainment industries. Mould tools manufactured include those for point of sale material, promotional gifts including a current project for soft drink can covers in the form of a baseball cap, to maybe the most unusual, a jig for the production of ice balls for high end cocktail bars. “We were approached by this customer who said they wanted to be able to make perfectly round ice balls from ice cubes, so we set to work to design the jig from scratch and all the machining was done on the XYZ ProTURN 1630 lathe, which proved ideal for the work. The resulting mould takes a block of ice and transforms it into a perfect sphere for when you want an exotic cocktail,” says Terry.

(Above) Mould tool produced by Golf Tees and promotions on its XYZ VMC 710 and XYZ MiniMill 560 machines.

(Above) Terry Holmes is maximising the capabilities of his XYZ vertical machining centres after only two days of training.

(Above) Golf Tees and Promotions produces up to 50 million golf tees a year for The Masters Golf Company, in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours.

(Above) The ingenious Ice ball mould tool designed and manufactured by Terry Holmes using the XYZ ProTURN 1630 lathe.