Steve Holmes, owner of sub-contract machining company Pro-Cut Precision Engineering
in Milton Keynes, founded his business in 2010 with a second-hand Hurco VMX30 three-axis vertical machining centre (VMC) to carry out prismatic machining operations.
Today, specialising in a mixture of prototyping and small batch work as well as longer production runs, the company has seven modern machines supplied by High Wycombe-based Hurco Europe Ltd
on its shopfloor. One of the most recent additions was Pro-Cut’s first full five-axis model, a trunnion-type Hurco VMX30Ui for producing more-complex components (pictured).
It joined an existing VM30i three-axis machining centre in an adjacent unit that has benefitted from the addition of a Kitagawa rotary-tilt table with Lang workholding. The machine provides further five-axis capability while retaining the possibility of using the full 1,270mm X axis for processing larger components. When carrying out five-sided metal-cutting operations, the machine is often programmed using Hurco’s powerful transform-plane software in the Max5 control. Natural progression
Mr Holmes said that the move towards five-axis was a natural progression for the company and having two different configurations of machine allows him to produce a greater variety of workpiece sizes and shapes. He has been impressed with the reliability and performance of the Hurco machines and says they produce components of high accuracy and surface finish.
On-site also are three smaller VM10i three-axis vertical machining centres (VMCs), which he describes as “absolutely brilliant”, as they run every day for up to 15hr making production parts for the agricultural industry. “The machines never, ever stop and they don't go wrong,” he added.
He regards the VM10i models as having a good specification for their size, with 20 tool pockets in the magazine and a 10,000rev/min spindle in addition to such control system features as pocketing cycles, 3-D cycles and rigid tapping. Moreover he was able to squeeze all three VMCs as well as the two five-axis machines into two adjacent 980ft2
He recently added a further 1,500ft2
of factory space to start his next expansion phase and in early October 2021 installed another three-axis VM30i and a larger VMX42Ui five-axis machine.
Speaking of his first full five-axis acquisition, Mr Holmes said: “Compared with other models on the market, the VMX30Ui can handle surprisingly large-sized components, considering the relatively small footprint of the VMC.
“We are happy to machine five-sided components in 3+2 axis mode or undertake fully simultaneous five-axis work, the more-complex parts presently being required mainly for the motorsport sector. Flexibility to be able to serve a variety of customers is key to our business success and the latest, larger capacity five-axis model will help us further in this respect.”
Pro-Cut has also recently added two seats of Open Mind hyperMill CAD/CAM for programming complex work, but the Max5 control on the three-axis machines and the WinMax twin-screen control on the latest five-axis model are used for creating cycles for simpler work and are regarded as a perfect way of getting into CNC.
With the benefit of having used Hurco machines for more than two decades, including in previous employment, Mr Holmes describes the proprietary control as “having become better and faster over the years”. Its outstanding conversational programming capabilities and the quality of the graphics are nevertheless undiminished”.
He concluded: “To keep the spindle’s turning during our longer production runs, all machines have either augers or swarf conveyors that easily manage the build-up of swarf. We are known for our fast turnround of high-quality CNC machined components, whatever the batch size, and the inherent reliability of the Hurco machines underpins that reputation.”