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PostPosted: Tue 4:44, 10 May 2011    Post subject: CNC ‘mini-mill’ speeds autosport respons

The flexibility of a CNC ‘mini-mill’, with its 16-tool turret and ease of programming, is making the task of meeting stringent autosport deamnds an easier thing to do.
These days, Terry Kempe, who is responsible for production and quality control at 15-employee Monard Precision Engineering, can still on occasions be found operating one or other of this specialist sub-contractor’s machine tools.
A former apprentice with the English Electric Company, he says that after nearly 40 years in engineering, it is difficult to do ‘cold turkey’.
It’s a trait he shares with fellow director, Paul Barnett, who joined Monard straight from school and now oversees the machine shop.
He, too, is a highly skilled machinist who believes in a hands-on response when tight deadlines demand it.
The ISO 9001 accredited company moved to its 3600ft2 premises in Rugby in 1985, from where it delivers precision machined components to numerous blue chip customers.
It is, for example, an official supplier to Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sport, one of the leading contenders in the 2005 FIA World Rally Championship, as well as supplying parts to manufacturers of laser equipment.
Common to OEMs in both these industries is a preference for design and assembly rather than in-house manufacture.
“Because of this,” says Kempe, ” Monard is closely involved in the ‘design for manufacture’ aspect of - in the case of motorsport - various engine, gearbox and suspension components”.
“Much of this is prototype and development work, although production batches, too, are usually small”.
“Either way, the emphasis is always on high accuracy and on-time delivery.” With this in mind Monard has invested in a 13HP XYZ Mini Mill 560 compact vertical machining centre equipped with a Siemens 810D control running Shopmill conversational programming software.
This latest addition sits alongside several XYZ manual/CNC lathes and mills, machining for the most part stainless steel and aluminium workpieces.
Although the ‘mini mill’ concept originated in the USA in the late 1990s, the objective being a vertical machining centre capable of machining the widest range of components within the smallest possible machine space, the XYZ Mini Mill 560 has taken this concept a step further.
Its 560mm (X) by 400mm (Y) by 500mm (Z) working envelope is contained within an 1800mm (width) by 1980mm (depth) footprint.
This combines small size with a level of rigidity, courtesy of the machine’s Meehanite cast iron construction, that is second to none.
Three Monard employees have been trained to operate the new machine and, says Terry Kempe, since installation the XYZ Mini Mill 560 has done everything required of it.
Shopfloor programming is the norm, but off-line programming is also used, with completed programs transferred via ‘memory sticks’.
Although motorsport is one of the most interesting industries, it is also a hard taskmaster.
Terry Kempe and Paul Barnett enjoy the challenges this brings to Monard but see little point in making life more difficult than it has to be”.
“”We have always prided ourselves on going that extra yard for all our customers,” says Kempe, “Now the flexibility of the Mini Mill 560,lathe tools, with its 16-tool turret and ease of programming, makes this an easier thing to do.”.

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