As a specialist in producing one-off or low volume development work, East Grinstead-based Classic Components is often called on to turn work around at short notice, quite often without drawings to work to. As a long-term user of XYZ’s ProtoTRAK controlled machine tools their ease-of-use was familiar to managing director, Malcolm Duffield, but the arrival of the latest RMX 3500 bed mill with the new ProtoTRAK RMX control has been a revelation.

Classic Components has built its reputation on producing parts in low volumes for vintage aircraft, where it often only has the original part to work from, and in the area of product development or bespoke manufacture where production can often be just a one-off. While volumes may be small attention to detail remains high, with every job having full traceability, particularly for materials used in the aircraft work, all of which are certified. Malcolm also documents all aspects of production with photographic evidence to ensure total accountability to the customer. This type of work fits with Malcolm Duffield’s experience as prior to founding the company in 2008 he spent 40 or more years working at first as a toolmaker, before moving into design engineering and research and development for a multi-national business.

When he started the business his first XYZ machine was ‘inherited’, a DPM bed mill with an early variant of the ProtoTRAK control. While this machine is still in place, he decided it was time to invest in the latest variant as he looked to improve productivity and quality. The timing of the arrival of the latest ProtoTRAK derivative, the RX, provided the ideal opportunity. The advantages of this latest control on the RMX 3500 bed mill have helped Malcolm Duffield achieve significant savings both in programming and cycle times. “The move from the old DPM control to the new RMX ProtoTRAK has been a step-change for me, there I something like 16 years of development that I am having to catch up with, but the time savings I’ve seen so far thanks to innovations such as adaptive material removal strategy and the ability to import DXF files.”

An example of the benefits of the DXF converter is in the production of sprockets for vintage aircraft. On his older machine he had to input every co-ordinate, which was time consuming both in terms of inputting and cross checking the data. Now, it is simply a case of importing the DXF file and literally pressing cycle start. “I have now gone from what could have taken a couple of hours to complete down to a matter of minutes to start machining.” One of the key new features of the RMX ProtoTRAK control for XYZ’s bed mills is the Adaptive Material Removal, which calculates the optimum tool path for the machining of pockets or ‘area clearance’. The cycle time savings can cut hours from cycle times, improve surface quality and also improve tool life.

The ability to import DXF files has greatly reduced programming time from hours to minutes for components such as these sprockets at Classic Components.

For Classic Components this feature has cut cycle time on one particular part, a development of a toilet flush unit for an upmarket bathroom manufacturer, by 50 per cent. “The ability of the control to create the optimum toolpath, automatically, is a big advantage. In conjunction with this, while the RMX 3500 may be similar in capacity to my old machine, the years of development that have gone into the control and the more robust construction and higher performance spindle means that I can program quicker and cut metal faster. I’m confident as I become more familiar with the RMX control, and the machine, even greater savings can be made.”

As a one-man business the arrival of the RMX 3500 has simply made life easier for Malcolm Duffield, as he now knows that he has the capability to quickly turn work around for customers as the ProtoTRAK control is so straightforward, even for complex components. “The efficiency improvements that I’m seeing are helping to improve workflow. I paid for the machine outright and it only runs when it’s needed, but that suits the business perfectly. As I only deal in one-offs and low volume, I’m not worried about payback, for me it’s about having the right equipment to do the job. And the XYZ RMX 3500 fits the bill as I know that in 5-6 year’s-time I will still have a machine that will have a strong residual value.”

The Adaptive Material Removal feature in the new RMX ProtoTRAK control has helped reduce cycle times by 50 per cent.