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(Above) Copper electrodes manufactured by BK Tooling on the XYZ 1060 HS vertical machining centre.

When XYZ Machine tools launched its 1060 HS high speed vertical machining centre it immediately caught the attention of precision toolmaker, BK Tooling which placed an order and was pleasantly surprised when the machine was delivered to see the serial number was 00001. Now, ten years later, with the original machine performing as well as it did when new BK Tooling has taken delivery of its second XYZ 1060 HS.

With the XYZ machine we have a highly capable machine that means that we can create constant feed rates around complex shapes, maximising the machines 43 m/min feed capability

Key to the success and accuracy of the XYZ 1060 HS according to BK Tooling’s Managing Director Bob Tunks is its drive system and overall rigidity. “Some argue that spindle speed is the ultimate test of what qualifies as high speed machining, but in my opinion the spindle speed is only part of the equation. With the XYZ machine we have a highly capable machine that means that we can create constant feed rates around complex shapes, maximising the machines 43 m/min feed capability. When using cutters as small as 0.4 mm diameter, managing feed rates in this way plays a vital role not only in the quality of the finished part, but it also reduces tool breakage, which impacts on scrap, rework and hand finishing.”

Buying a machine like this without part probing is something that I would not even contemplate, yet it amazes me that some people do

The Siemens 840D ShopMill Control fitted to the XYZ 1060 HS plays an important role in the machines success, with Bob Tunks citing the controls block reading speed and look-ahead facility as vital for the three-dimensional forms that he is machining. He is also a big advocate of on machine tool and part probing. With this new machine he took advantage of the free offer, at the time, from XYZ on every new machining centre of the new Renishaw Primo Radio Part Setter Probe, a Primo Radio 3D Tool Setter, which he upgraded with the lifetime user token. “Buying a machine like this without part probing is something that I would not even contemplate, yet it amazes me that some people do. Yes, you can set parts manually, but you do that without any confidence in where the datum is. Probing is all about having the confidence of knowing where the part is on the table and not standing there hovering over the feed rate override. The time savings on second operation work more than offset the cost of the probe,” says Bob Tunks.

This is why we have invested in the second XYZ 1060 HS as it enhances our existing high-level capabilities, provides security of process and combined with the skills we have in-house allows us to punch above our weight and win business from customers whose doors would normally remain closed to a business of our size

BK Tooling supports many different sectors of industry including medical and the cluster of Cambridge Science companies close to its Hertfordshire location, but it has avoided being pigeon-holed in terms of customers. One constant though is the demands of its customers. “The world of toolmaking has two specific drivers, accuracy and ‘when can I have it’,” says Bob Tunks. “This is why we have invested in the second XYZ 1060 HS as it enhances our existing high-level capabilities, provides security of process and combined with the skills we have in-house allows us to punch above our weight and win business from customers whose doors would normally remain closed to a business of our size. We are constantly aiming for the 10 micron tolerance area to reduce hand finishing and our ultimate aim is to remove hand finishing of moulds and electrodes completely and investments such as this will help us to achieve that target.”

The XYZ 1060 HS is the flagship of the XYZ high speed range and its features have been designed to provide high capability and performance combined with extended service life. The foundation of the machine is a 7500 kg solid meehanite ribbed casting, that enables users to maximise the potential of the 43 m/min feed rates and 12,000 revs/min oil-cooled spindle, a 15,000 revs/min option is available. Accuracy is further enhanced through use of cooled ballscrews and a pneumatically counterbalanced z-axis, with all axes being controlled by digital servo motors. For the 1060 HS, XYZ moves away from traditional box slideways found on other machines in the range to fit high precision, high quality, NSK linear roller slideways, which assist with the contouring capability required by users of this type of machine. Combined with the XYZ 1060 HS’s agility and performance is its overall capability, with axis travels of 1020 mm x 610 mm x 620 mm (xyz), an 800 kg table load, 24 position tool changer (30 position option is available); with a maximum tool diameter capacity of 100 mm and toolchange time of 2.5 seconds, the machine is well specified to meet the demands of industry, and specifically the toolmaking sector.

(Above) Bob Tunks (left) overseeing a set up on the new XYZ 1060 HS machine.

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