Larger mould tools

02 Sep 2020

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

Following the food industry trend towards larger mould tools for increased productivity, Pattern Forme has expanded its deep hole machining capabilities.

For over 30 years, Taunton-based, Pattern Forme Ltd has specialised in the in design and manufacture of thermoforming mould tools. The company specialises in producing tools for thin gauge work, mainly in the food industry and thick gauge work for applications, such as, signage. However, the key focus of the business is the food sector where its success has stemmed from a willingness to partner with customers. By offering its experience and being pro-active it can take projects from initial concept to finished mould tool, often with lead times as short as 2-3 weeks.

The food industry is fast-paced and constantly changing, therefore Pattern Forme has continually invested in machining technology allowing it to keep pace. More recently, the trend has been for larger mould tools to increase productivity, this led to a need to drill deeper holes. Typically, these holes would range in size between 6 and 10 mm diameter, with depths up to 1000 mm. The traditional solution would be to purchase a dedicated deep hole drilling machine or subcontract the work. The former would require a significant investment, whereas the latter brings logistical problems and lack of control over production. XYZ Machine Tools was able to propose and deliver a quicker and more cost-effective solution.

“It was a chance conversation with XYZ Machine Tools, who have supplied us with several machines, where I mentioned that we needed this extra capacity. They immediately suggested modifying one of its XYZ 1000 LR vertical machining centres to give the extra z-axis capability we required.”

“The simple and cost-effective solution was to add a 1050 mm riser block to the machine, which would allow us to drill these holes from either end using the 500 mm z-axis of the machine,” says Paul Wilkins, Managing Director, Pattern Forme.

By reconfiguring the machine, XYZ Machine Tools was able to increase the minimum distance from spindle nose to table to 1050 mm and with the standard z-axis stroke making the maximum distance 1550mm which was more than enough to accommodate Pattern Forme’s components.

“This machine has been purchased purely for deep hole drilling and, considering the modifications, it is proving to be of excellent value with the capital cost alone around 80 per cent less than a dedicated deep hole drilling machine. Efficiency will also improve as we can transfer work from what previously had been done on manual machines to a fully CNC controlled operation. A further advantage of this capability from the XYZ 1000 LR is the reduction in lead times, which is crucial if we are to maintain existing and win new business,” states Paul Wilkins.