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Transitioning from manual to CNC machining

16 May 2022

Founded in 1992, P&T Precision Engineering has an established reputation as a subcontract manufacturer that specialises in the production of jigs, fixtures and machined components for the food, medical and pharmaceutical sector.

HISTORICALLY A manual machine shop, the County Kildare company has made the transition from manual to CNC machining with the support of the Engineering Technology Group (ETG) Ireland.

Discussing the transition from being a manual machine shop to a CNC facility, Darragh Walsh from P&T Precision Engineering says: “We were a small family company with six employees and we decided to invest in CNC equipment from ETG. We ended up buying quite a lot of new equipment. This has helped us to grow in the industry sectors that we need to grow in, and it has helped our customers to get more products with shorter lead times. In a short space of time, we have gone from six staff to 22, but we have also grown our number of machines - and we hope to grow that into the future as well."

"P&T was an up and coming family run business that was coming from manual machines into the CNC world. They approached us and said they wanted to make that advance from manual to CNC machining," says Jamie Fletchmore from ETG Ireland. "We sat down and spoke about the first machining centre and we introduced them to the Qauser MV184. From there, we migrated on every two years and they were buying more technology, which included the Nakamura AS200L turning centre and then two years later they purchased another Qauser MV184."

The first step the Naas based company took was to invest in the Qauser MV184 vertical machining centre. The Qauser MV184 provides a spacious work envelope with X, Y and Z axes of 1020 by 610 by 610mm that travels over a 1200 by 600mm bed with a load capacity of 500kg. The BT40 taper spindle machine provides a maximum spindle speed of 12,000rpm that is supported by a 30 position ATC.

"This type of machine is a big step up from where they were, machining parts on manual machines in multiple operations. With the Qauser MV184, P&T were able to take those manually machined parts from drawing and CAD model straight into the machine with a finished part coming off. So, they were able to get the parts through the shop floor much faster and that also reduces the downtime involved with going from one operation to another with the manual process. Investing in our machines and technology has enabled P&T to move through different types of components and different kinds of materials, especially harder materials. This has allowed P&T to get into markets that they were not used to working in," Fletchmore continues.
 
"It has opened doors and opportunities that has led the company to then look at the Nakamura AS200L turning centre. This machine opened P&T up to a new range of products that they were able to look at. They were making parts in multiple operations from a lathe point of view and now, by using the Nakamura AS200L turning centre they can finish those parts complete in one operation. P&T are now able to do all of the milling, drilling, tapping and then also transfer parts to the second spindle, so the part is coming off the machine in one complete operation as opposed to multiple operations."
 
The Nakamura AS200L twin-spindle turning centre from ETG Ireland is a 65mm diameter bar capacity machine with an 8inch chuck that offers a turning capacity up to 340mm diameter with a maximum turning length of 570mm – providing sufficient capacity for the requirements of P&T. With a powerful 11/15kW 4500rpm main spindle motor and a sub-spindle unit with 5.5/7.5kW and 6000rpm, the Nakamura AS200L is perfect for the productive turning of all material types with its perfect blend of power, torque and spindle speed. This is complemented by a driven tooling unit with capacity for up to 15 driven tools with a maximum spindle speed of 6000rpm and 3.7/5.5kw spindle power, ideal for all the drilling, threading and milling requirements of P&T. 
 
"P&T are a very creative company and they do a lot of design work for the companies that they work with. So, they came to us with particular types of work and asked if they could do it on our machines. We sat down with them and supported and guided them through the different ways that we could approach jobs – in a way that was different to what they were doing in the past. That has enabled P&T to create much better parts, much quicker whilst retaining and improving upon the precision and the tolerances of the parts that they are making," Fletchmore explains.
 
Walsh continues: “We went to ETG because they give great support and service and they also provide fantastic quality machines with great repeatability and durability. We have never had any issues with any machine that ETG hasn’t been able to fix within a couple of hours. The Nakamura AS200L turning centre has enabled us to machine components in a much faster time because there are fewer setups. So, instead of taking jobs from the lathe to the mill - we can now do it all in one shot. This has decreased our machining times, it’s reduced our delivery times and it also means we can get more parts through the machine shop.”
 
Fletchmore says: “ETG Ireland also provided all of the training, as the Heidenhain CNC control was new to P&T. We guided them through the training process and how the CNC control works. We also provided full operator training where we came in and set their parts up with the shop floor machinists and went through the full machining aspect. ETG has taken P&T from the manual machining process to the full CNC process, we were able to be there all the way.”
 
Looking to the future, Walsh concludes: “The future for P&T will hopefully see us break through to the 2000sq/ft and expand with quality machines and also increase our workforce to help increase our capacity. This will certainly result in more machine tools from ETG Ireland.”

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