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As one of the UK’s leading designers and manufacturers of electro-mechanical motion control systems, LG Motion has developed partnerships with customers across many industry sectors, including aerospace, defence, pharmaceutical, energy, packaging and motorsport. Put simply, they make things ‘go in and out, up and down, and round and round’. In delivering these products it uses its in-house machining capability, that has recently been updated with the arrival of three machines from XYZ Machine Tools.

LG Motion places great emphasis on its commitment to quality and the management of the business has invested accordingly to ensure this is maintained, whether that is in staff training and apprenticeships or, through modern manufacturing processes. The new XYZ machines are a case in point, with two SMX 3500 ProtoTRAK bed mills being brought in to replace two older machines. “The nature of our work is generally small batches and bespoke systems, so quick changeover is very important to us,” says Gary Livingstone, LG Motion’s Managing Director. “The XYZ machines give us reliable and quality performance, whilst providing maximum flexibility for operators and ever-changing requirements.” With their increased spindle speed capability and 40 ISO taper spindle connection, these machines are improving cycle times and the finished quality of the components being machined. A third machine, a ProTURN SLX 425 lathe will also target productivity improvements.

The two XYZ SMX 3500 ProtoTRAK bed mills and SLX 425 ProTURN lathe are allowing larger parts to be machined faster and to higher quality at LG Motion

“Around 90 per cent of what we machine is aluminium, so upgrading to the XYZ SMX 3500 Bed mills has helped, as we can run the spindle 20 per cent faster than our previous machines. The 40 ISO taper spindle, combined with the robust construction of the machine, also means we can use higher feed rates and achieve better surface finish and flatness,” says Rob Kirrage, LG Motion’s Manufacturing Engineer.  “Another advantage of the SMX 3500 bed mills is their table capacity. As business has developed some of the projects we get involved with have increased in scale and we were pushing our old machines to the limit. We machine a lot of base plates and key to these are there flatness and with the larger table size on the SMX 3500 we are able to flycut bigger plates and achieve flatness of 0.01 mm.”

The table on the XYZ SMX 3500 ProtoTRAK bed mill measures 1370 x 356 mm, with axis travels of 787 x 508 x 530 mm (XYZ), making it a highly versatile machine, when combined with the 5000 revs/min, 40 ISO taper spindle. The machine size wasn’t the only deciding factor in choosing these machines, though, as the ProtoTRAK control was a major influence in the buying decision as with the previous SMX 2000 machines featuring the same control. This made for a straightforward transfer of programs and skill sets. “We have up to six people that can operate the XYZ machines and create programs very quickly thanks to their previous experience. As a result, we have a very ordered machining process, with the ability to quickly program and set jobs to ensure that the machine shop does not become a bottleneck for production.”

Manufacturing Engineer Rob Kirrage (left) goes through the ProtoTRAK control with apprentice Michael Duncan.

When looking at a machine purchase it is usual to study machine capacity and capability, but often it is the smaller details that can make a difference to how a machine is used and one advantage of the XYZ SMX 3500 by Rob Kirrage is the convenient location of the handwheels for X and Y axis movement. Positioned next to each other at the front of the machine (rather than the traditional position at the end of the table for the X axis) they manual positioning of the table very easy for the operator.