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Over the last 18 months, Asquith Butler, a long-established British machine tool manufacturer synonymous with its range of large capacity, travelling gantry (vertical) and travelling column (horizontal) machining centres, has become the exclusive UK distributor for a range of high quality machining centres from three European manufacturers, Zayer, Sahos and Mubea Systems. The agreements cover machine sales, installation, commissioning and service support. Asquith Butler is delighted with its success so far, having sold a number these cutting edge machines into the UK market.

Asquith Butler Zayer Machine Supplied to Audi Asquith Butler Zayer Machine Supplied to Batz

The Spanish firm Zayer has also been particularly successful across Europe and in its home market in the last 18 months. For example, it has sold two large 5-axis machines for toolmaking, one to Audi Tooling Barcelona and another to Batz, located near Bilbao, which manufactures stamping tools for vehicle component production. The company supplies JLR, BMW, Volvo and other famous marques.

Paul Hinchliffe, managing director of Asquith Butler based in Brighouse, West Yorkshire, sees considerable potential for these machines in the UK, especially in the automotive sector. Here he describes Zayer’s two latest projects to provide a flavour of the manufacturer’s capabilities and strengths.

Audi Tooling Barcelona’s new tryout centre

Acceptance of the Zayer TEBAS 6000 by Audi Tooling Barcelona was completed in April 2014. The machine has gone into the firm’s 4,000 sq m Tryout Center in Martorell, opened in March 2014, where it makes die sets for producing car body parts. These are extensively tested before delivery to customers. The investment, which included the installation of three 2,500-tonne tryout presses, has doubled the number of people employed at the site to 110.

The 5-axis TEBAS 6000 completed the equipment installed at the new centre. Boasting very high volumetric accuracy, the machine has two universal, automatic milling heads capable of being orientated in 360,000 positions. One is a 45-degree mechanical head powered by a 45 kW German-made Kessler motor offering spindle speeds up to 6,000 rpm, while the other is a 30-degree head with a 23 kW, 24,000 rpm electrospindle ideal for fine finishing cycles. All Zayer heads are renowned for their compactness and reliability. 

The fully enclosed machine has a 6,200 by 2,500 mm table and distance between columns of 3,500 mm. Travels in X, Y and Z are 6,000 mm, 4,250 mm and 1,500 mm respectively. Cameras are positioned under the cross beam and there are probes for tool measurement and for use with Zayer’s proprietary ICAL system for automatically calibrating the milling heads. Control is by a Heidenhain iTNC 530 HSCI contouring CNC system with all-digital interfaces. The machine is distinguished by its polymer concrete bed mounted on springs to prevent vibrations affecting the surface finish of the dies.

The new facility significantly enhances the quality and speed of support that Audi Tooling Barcelona provides to Audi’s production plants worldwide as well as to its main customer, SEAT.

High speed, 5-axis finishing at Batz

Founded in 1963, Batz is part of Mondragon, the largest cooperative industrial group in the world. The firm’s headquarters are in Igorre, 20 km from Bilbao and 1,500 people are employed in more than 15 facilities worldwide.

Stamping dies have been produced since the start. It was supplemented in 1982 by an automotive systems division for series production of vehicle components. More recently, the company has focused on new and lightweight materials, particularly for the aerospace industry, while renewable energy is another area of activity.

For its core business of stamping die manufacture, capacity issues meant that a dedicated machining centre was needed for finishing large dies, for which purpose a Zayer MEMPHIS 7000 high speed, 5-axis machining centre has been installed.

Longitudinal travel is 7,000 mm, distance between columns is 5,000 mm, and dies are fixtured on a table measuring 6,500 mm by 4,000 mm which can support 15 tonnes per square metre. Very high levels of productivity are ensured by cutting feed rates up to 20 m/min and 40 m/min rapids.

The gantry-type machine was supplied with four spindle heads that can be automatically exchanged, providing an unrivalled level of versatility in production. One head is rated at 43 kW / 6,000 rpm and there is a 30-degree head of the same rating offering 360,000 positions in 0.001-degree increments. An extended, L-shaped, 12 kW head is for machining awkward areas within dies at up to 2,000 rpm, while the fourth head carries a 23 kW electrospindle capable of finish milling at speeds up to a maximum of 18,000 rpm.