Straaltechniek Ltd uses XYZ machines to reduce cutting times on its impellers

Sheffield based Straaltechniek UK Ltd has been manufacturing equipment for the surface preparation industry since 1982 with its range of blasting and shot peening machines. Its innovative high performance, long life GN Blasting Wheel Technology delivers 25% faster abrasive speeds enabling manufacturers to reduce energy consumption by 25% or increase production output by 25%. The advanced forward curved blades make this possible by reducing collision speeds of the abrasive at the entrance to the blast wheel, decreasing wear on the internal components. Additionally, the technology reduces abrasive usage by 10-15% and significantly cuts down on noise levels during the surface preparation process.

A key element of the blast wheel is the impeller which is made from D2 tool steel, a high carbon and chromium grade noted for its wear and abrasion resistance. Originally manufactured in several operations on a lathe and then a machining centre, this component has six side apertures making it an ideal part for production on a mill turn machine. Ryan Doxey, Machine Shop Supervisor says, “We installed the XYZ TC 320 LTY in November 2022 as it has a full C-axis and driven tools on a Y axis so we can virtually finish one of these impellers from a solid billet in one operation. Significant savings in handling and setup times and faster machining combine to give us a valuable reduction in cycle times. There are a large number of different impellers as, we not only make blast wheels for our own machines, but also retrofit and refurbish machines from other manufacturers, bringing them up to the latest modern efficiency standards. We carry out all the programming on the shop floor and the Siemens 828D ShopTurn Touchscreen control is a favourite with our machinists.”

As well as the XYZ TC 320 LTY, the company also has a XYZ VL 425 lathe with ProtoTRAK® control. This machine is used for turning the blast wheel itself. Ryan Doxey adds, “The blast wheels can be up to 405 mm diameter, and we can program them on the ProtoTRAK® control on the shop floor with sufficient capacity to hold them in soft jaws to complete the machining. The ease of programming on ProtoTRAK® and the reliability of this machine gave us the confidence to invest in the XYZ TC 320 LTY and ShopTurn.”

Straaltechniek offers complete turnkey installations. These may consist of abrasive elevators with a spiral auger, separators to reuse abrasive, dust collectors, conveyors, gearboxes and motors and the blasting machine itself. The configuration depends on the products being processed which can range from railway rails to aerospace parts and brake pads. Additionally, machine refurbishment further increases the large range of special parts that the company needs to manufacture.

With so many different components to make, small batches of between one and 200 parts is the norm. This means that versatility, reliability, ease of programming and setup are essential in the machine shop. The XYZ TC 320 LTY has 12 tool stations which can all hold live tooling. Maximum turning diameter is 320 mm and maximum turned length is 550mm. X travel is 270 mm and Y travel is ± 50mm giving the machine the capacity to machine some very complex parts in one operation.

Ryan Doxey says, “Simulation on the Siemens 828D ShopTurn makes it easy and safe to program C-axis machining operations, picking up potential errors and giving us confidence when programming and running new jobs. The tool probe is also a great feature. The touch probe picks up the tool offsets and automatically feeds them into the control. Our experience with XYZ Machine Tools has been good. The 16-year-old VL 425 is mechanically very reliable and we have not had any problems with the TC 320 LTY. Installation was done in 1-2 days and, after training locally in Sheffield, we were up and running straight away. Having the Y axis and driven tools has opened the door to more efficient machining methods, and it will be a step change in how we cut parts.”

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