Axminster’s manufacturing workshop has recently taken delivery of a new quarter of a million pound CNC machine from Star Micronics.
Japanese company Star Micronics is one of the world’s most respected manufacturers of Swiss-type turning machines. These machines produce small, complex and precise metal components. Star delivered the basic machine from Japan to their UK subsidiary – Star Micronics GB – based in Derby. There the factory built up the machine according to the customer’s needs. Then the company sourced parts from all over Europe and electronics from Taiwan. The complex hydraulic pump and swarf removal system were produced in the UK; the fume extraction system came from Sweden. As a result, this type of machine is unique to its manufacturer and has a relatively small market. This may explain why the bigger companies do not produce it.
The new lathe is the second Star machine Axminster has purchased to enhance its innovation and manufacturing capability. This lathe is much bigger, turning up to 38mm in diameter; the original model can only turn up to 32mm. Going forward, both machines will operate at the same time.
What are the benefits?
There are many advantages to the new machine and here are just some of them. Specialising in high precision small round components, the Star lathe works at a very high speed, producing hundreds of items each day that require no further finishing. Also, high speed production reduces the cost. What’s more, Axminster engineers can programme the machine to select the correct cutter depending on what it is making, and it can cut a superior type of stainless steel. All of these factors have a knock-on benefit to the customer and end user in terms of quality and cost.
We make Parf Super dogs, parts for woodturning centres, spacers, pins and guides for the Parf guide system and pen turning mandrels. In the past we made these on a Mazak lathe, but it took a long time. With the Star machine the process is much, much quicker.
Skillful and precise installation
Installation of the new Star machine into Axminster’s production facility was a precise yet fairly straightforward operation. Star Micronics’ delivery and commissioning team craned the lathe off the vehicle onto low profile trolleys and wheeled it into the workshop. The only hitch occurred when the team found it was too long for the designated space, so some adjustments to the space had to be made. Once in place, the lathe was bolted to the floor. Being thicker, stable and unaffected by changes in the weather or temperature, this special floor guarantees the accuracy of the machine. Then the team built and commissioned the machine.
This is a quarter of a million pound machine we are adding to the machine shop, expanding our manufacturing capacity as we believe in manufacturing in Britain. Being a world-class manufacturer in today’s competitive world really does require huge investment, this being the second Star machine we have purchased in 18 months.