Techno Group
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New sliding head lathe at Hastings facility

Despite the ever-present uncertainty that many of us have been facing in recent times, Techno Group has continued to invest in cutting edge machine technology. An example of this is the recent investment in a Star SW-12RII sliding head lathe, which has been commissioned at our Hastings facility, Technoturn.

With a maximum bar fed diameter of just 13mm, this machine goes to prove that bigger is not always better. Its physical footprint is dwarfed by the likes of our Matsuura MX-330 5-axis machining centre and Citizen ABX-64 Triple Turret fixed head lathe, but what it lacks in size, it definitely makes up for in output!

Since Techno Group ventured down the CNC machining route over two decades ago, the company has always been an advocate of Star Micronics sliding head lathes. This is especially true of Technoturn, who at one point had 10 SA16s and three 20Rs manufacturing high quality components throughout the day and night. Since then, times have moved on and our fleet of SA16s has been replaced by SB20s, which further solidified our relationship with Star and allowed us to offer a broader spectrum of high precision components.

However, over the last few years we have taken note of the ever-increasing demand for high quality and efficient small diameter machining, especially now that a lot of work is being repatriated following the Covid-19 pandemic to mitigate risks to UK supply chains. This is not to say that our existing fleet was not capable of producing smaller components, far from it, but in some instances, we felt as though we were using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. This did not present any problems, just opportunity for improvement, and there is nothing Technoturn likes more than maintaining the momentum of our continuous improvement programme.

Technoturn CNC install

So… why an SW-12?

The main selling point of this machine for Technoturn was its opposing tool posts, which allow for simultaneous machining on the main spindle. Simultaneous machining, or balanced turning, is the process of simultaneously machining with two turrets on the same work piece. When machining with one turret, the machining force acts as a lever on the part and creates vibrations. However, when two turrets are machining the work piece at the same time, the machining forces are balanced, allowing vibrations to be eliminated. This means Techno Group can produce higher quality products more efficiently, which in turn reduces production costs.

The flexibility of the Star SW-12 is further enhanced by its ability to switch between guide bush mode (Swiss type) and non-guide bush mode. A guide bush acts as a steady to account for any flex when machining long and slender components. However, having the ability to remove the guide bush increases the rigidity of the work holding allowing us to take deeper cuts, reduces the setup time on the machine, and reduces material wastage as the size of the remnant is significantly reduced.

Techno Group’s continued investment in the latest CNC technology is a clear statement of intent. The company’s mission is to establish itself as the industry’s most reliable, dynamic, and efficient engineering solutions provider, and to achieve this we know that we need to have the right tools around us to do the job. 2021 has seen two new machines introduced across the group, with further investments for 2022 already in the pipeline. Keep an eye on our website, LinkedIn and YouTube for our latest updates!

Neil Pankhurst

“For such a small machine it has made a big impact already. On average we have managed to reduce cycle times by up to 30% and we are still yet to unlock the machines full potential!”

Neil Pankhurst
Sliding Head Supervisor, Technoturn

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