Cambridgeshire-based Encocam Ltd., an innovative and progressive manufacturing company has recently invested in two Mikron HEM 700U 5-axis machining centres from GF Machining Solutions.
The machines were installed at Stonehill Engineering - one of Encocam’s eight divisions - in June and November 2017, and are being used to machine a diverse range of high-precision components and mould tools for the company’s internal and external customers.
Since being installed, the majority of work undertaken on both Mikron machining centres has involved the machining of precision parts for Encocam’s largest division, Cellbond.
Established in 1988, Cellbond develops, manufactures and supplies passive safety testing products and equipment to the global automotive market. The business exports 92% of its products to markets including Japan, China, Korea, India, Malaysia, the USA and Europe and received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade in 2017.
Cellbond manufactures and supplies the full range of deformable barriers used in passive safety tests and consumer information tests such as the Euro NCAP Safety Rating programme. In 2012 Cellbond moved into the Anthropomorphic Test Device (ATD) sector, designing and manufacturing crash test dummies, leg-form impactors, and head-forms. The current product line-up includes the Q-Series range of Child Crash Test Dummies (Q3, Q6 and Q10) for testing child safety in vehicles, the Flex-PLI Legform Impactor and the advanced Pedestrian Legform Impactor (aPLI) for testing pedestrian safety, and the most sophisticated crash test dummy ever designed – the THOR-50M dummy which represents a standard adult male.
Complex and technically-sophisticated, Cellbond’s ATD products are made from hundreds of precision machined or moulded parts which undergo rigorous inspection and testing prior to (and post) assembly. All machined parts are produced in-house from a range of different materials that include aluminium, steel, bronze and plastics etc. They are machined to high accuracy, tight tolerance and an exacting surface finish.
In addition to ‘machined’ parts, Cellbond’s crash test dummies also include a number of plastic and rubber moulded components which are produced from high-quality mould tools. These tools are also designed and manufactured in house.
Quality of parts and tools is critical – the business is accredited to ISO 9001:2008 and Cellbond’s in-house ATD Certification and Test Facility achieved ISO17025 accreditation in 2016.
Individual metal and plastic parts as well as the mould tools are being machined on the new HEM 700U machines.
5-axis machine tool investment - the rationale
The decision to invest in the two Mikron machines was made following an audit and review by the company into its existing CNC machine tool capacity and capabilities - and whether the current position was satisfactory to meet future customer demand for Cellbond crash test dummies (including spare and replacement parts).
Says David Sheahan, Encocam’s Purchasing & Supply Manager:
“We have always invested in advanced machine tool technologies, and our machine shop includes the latest CNC milling, CNC turning and EDM machines.
“However, the audit revealed that our existing milling capacity was under pressure, and that if not addressed, could affect our ability to meet customer lead times in the future. After reviewing the audit findings it was decided that new investment in the latest 5-axis machine tool technologies was required.“
Encocam is no stranger to 5-axis machining having invested in a 5-axis machine tool some years ago.
Continues David Sheahan:
“We understand the strengths of 5-axis machining and how the technology can be used to machine complex shapes in one set-up and reduce part cycle times, as well as how the technology helps improve component accuracies and surface finishes.
“However, we could see that our existing 5-axis machine, whilst still performing satisfactorily, was a little long in tooth and that its onboard capabilities and functionality had been superseded by newer models on the market.”
GF Machining Solutions
Encocam approached GF Machining Solutions, who had previously supplied it with two high-performance Mikron VCE Pro 3-axis machining centres, to discuss their plans and requirements.
Says David Sheahan:
“We have a good relationship with GF Machining Solutions. As well as their state-of-the-art machine tools technologies we, from experience, appreciate and value their after-sales services and support - which we believe is second to none.
“Having discussed our immediate and future requirements with them, we decided to invest in the first Mikron HEM 700U.”
Mikron HEM 700U machining centre
The HEM 700U is a high-performance, rigidly-built 5-axis machine providing manufacturers full 5-axis simultaneous machining capability.
The machine model invested in by Encocam is equipped with linear guides on all the machine’s axes, a 20kW/12,000rpm spindle (HSK tooling interface), a 630mm diameter rotary/tilting trunnion supported table with +65/-110° B-axis tilt and 360° C-axis rotation, and the latest Heidenhain control.
This first HEM 700U machine was installed at Encocam’s facility in June 2017 and, such was its performance and reliability, that a second machine was ordered and installed in November 2017.
Concludes David Sheahan:
“Since being installed the HEM 700U machines haven’t missed a beat. They have been more than instrumental in us helping to ramp up production, and to meet demand for machined precision parts from our internal and external customers.”