Rugby-The subcontractor Technoset, with 70% of the turnover in the aerospace sector, was not in a good situation last March (2020) when COVID-19 grounded most of the planes and orders fell by seven time. Towards the end of 2021, the company’s aircraft parts production is still less than a quarter of previous volumes.

The company being confronted with an existential crisis, the managing director Kevan kane and the owners of the company set out to restructure the operation, positioning Technoset as a solution provider rather than a component provider. It has also started targeting tough contracts to supply tight tolerance components to more industries, including lasers, fiber optics and telecommunications.

The success of these policies saw the number of components going through the shop floor for the first time for existing and new customers more than tripling from 10% to 33%. Much has benefited from the design expertise for manufacturing Technoset engineers to reduce spare part costs for customers.

The first new machine tool the company purchased since the start of the pandemic was a highly specified Cincom M32-VIIILFV two-spindle slide-head turn-mill center, which was delivered by Citizen Machinery United Kingdom in the spring of this year (2021). Replacing two smaller Cincom M12s and M16s which were around 20 years old, it joined a previous generation M32-VIII purchased in 2017, with all numbers representing the maximum bar capacity. There are also eight Miyano double-spindle bar lathes and fixed heads from the same supplier on site for stock turning and milling components up to 64 mm in diameter.

One of the primary reasons for acquiring the latest M32 was the need to machine complex telecommunications components, in particular a 12-piece family of predominantly aluminum connectors for use in the defense industry. Many of them are complex, with lots of milled detail, and design tolerances are less than 10 microns.

This level of precision is achieved reliably even when the lights are off, in part because the lathe integrates Citizen’s LFV (Low Frequency Vibration) software into the Mitsubishi controller operating system. Variants of the LFV function can be called automatically in any part-program to break what would normally be stringy chips into manageable chips. It is no longer necessary to stop the lathe to untangle and remove potentially dangerous chips from the tool and / or component.

Productivity is therefore maximized, the operator is free to perform other tasks in the workshop, and the machine can run confidently without supervision. Programmable chipbreaker software is not only beneficial when machining aluminum connector parts, but will also prove invaluable when Technoset restarts production of high volume aircraft components from Inconel, titanium. , Waspaloy, Nimonic and other superalloys, all of which tend to make bird nests. once turned and drilled.

In anticipation of the acceleration of the resumption of work in aerospace, the subcontractor set up a second shift at the start September 2021. This is to ensure that contracts for aircraft components, which typically involve batches of 1,000 to 2,000 units, do not dominate the shop floor and dilute the production of new work that has been undertaken. in other industries. Therefore, the aerospace work of AS9100 Accredited Contract Machinists is unlikely to exceed 50% of throughput in the future.

Rapid development of turning machine technology

Mr. Kane commented, “Citizen Machinery’s M32 sliding head lathe, the manufacturer’s flagship model, has been the largest contributor to Technoset’s business since we purchased the first in 2000.

“What surprised me was how quickly machine technology has evolved. Our latest M32 is the fifth generation, which has been beefed up and completely redesigned since we installed the latest fourth generation model in 2017.

“The result was a drastic change in performance. I consider the machine to be the epitome of sliding head technology in terms of productivity, flexibility and speed. It is ideal for milling and turning high value parts. ‘

Improvements to the turning center include 1.5 times faster motorized tools powered by a 2.2 kW motor and a programmable 9,000 rpm B-axis to enable simultaneous machining on five CNC axes instead of four . Combined with the rear tool holder whose Y axis now has adjustable angle tooling, it allows faster production of more complex parts. Overlapping machining allows three tools to be cut at the same time, further reducing cycle times and increasing productivity.

The 10-station turret incorporates a new tooling system using a more robust single drive, also rated at 2.2 kW, for an increased number of live cutters. Only the selected tool rotates, removing heat generation and vibration to improve machining accuracy and surface finish. Like almost all the pieces shot in the Rugby The factory also requires prismatic operations such as milling and drilling to achieve one-shot fabrication, improvements in driven tool stations are of great benefit.

Mr. Kane added: “The improved specification of the M32, which includes an 8,000 rpm main spindle increased to 5.5 / 7.5 kW and an identical counter spindle, much more powerful than before, means the machine is able to match the speed of the M12 and M16 it replaces.

“Normally, to achieve profitable levels of productivity when milling components from smaller diameter bars, you wouldn’t do this job on a lathe with double or more bar capacity, as you would expect. it is slower.

“This is not the case with the fifth generation M32, which means we can consolidate the work on one platform. The reduced mix of machines in the workshop promotes knowledge transfer and helps alleviate the problem of skills shortages across the industry. ‘

He distinguished Citizen Machinery UK’s a technical safeguard worthy of special mention; it applies not only to Technoset but also to Technoturn group member, St Leonards, where a similar number of Cincom and the Miyano towers are operating. Responsive service is appreciated, but application support is particularly beneficial.

Recently Technoset found itself launching for the job and stuck on a 90 second cycle time which was too long to hit the target price. Mr. Kane contacted the supplier’s head office in Bushey via email and an engineer returned within 24 hours with an application optimized cycle time of 60 seconds. The reduction by a third allowed the subcontractor to win the new business.

To look forward

Focused on digitization and automation, Technoset’s projects are vast. The dark side of the business, which currently accounts for around two-thirds of revenue, is already automated through the use of bar stores. The milling part will take an important step in spring 2022 with the installation of a 5-axis machining center with robotic loading / unloading of components and on-board probing of parts. It will be the first automated cell to manufacture prismatic components on site.

Helping finance the purchase is a 100,000 GBP Aerospace Unlocking Potential (Aerospace UP) grant recently awarded to Technoset. Delivered by the University of Nottingham and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, the initiative aims to support the aerospace supply chain in the Midlands.

Part of the money will also be spent on acquiring a CADCAM suite for offline programming, a function that is currently performed primarily through manual data entry on machines. Consideration will also be given to investing in laser cutting, part marking, a painting facility and special deburring equipment to achieve the high standards demanded by the aerospace and laser industries.

As any manufacturer knows, there is no point in using the best machine tools without qualified people to operate them. Mr. Kane ensures that highly qualified operator-installers are always present in the system by continuously hiring apprentices. Three are progressing through a four-year program with Midland Group Training Services and two are aligned with the program offered by the Manufacturing Technology Center.


Hurst Business Park

Brierley Hill

West Midlands

DY5 1U

T: +44 (0) 1923 691500

E: [email protected]

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