Spanish prototyping shop Blumeprot’s investment in a Haas UMC-750 five-axis universal machining centre has cut set-up times dramatically, producing complex parts to tight tolerances from materials ranging from aluminium alloys to titanium and surgical-grade stainless steels.

It’s not easy starting a machining business. Often, success depends on bringing something new to the market. For their USP, the founders of Barcelona-based Blumeprot decided in 2011 to create a subcontract machine shop specialising in higher-value parts, particularly prototypes and small series pre-production batches.

The idea was inspired by the rise of 3D-printed parts. While these are currently popular with engineering companies, designers are often frustrated at receiving parts not made from design-intent materials. Blumeprot sought to address this with CNC machining. However, to keep up with the speed of 3D printing, the company relies on its Haas machine tools, the most recent addition to which was the UMC-750.

“We already had one small, five-axis model from another machine tool manufacturer, so we were aware of the potential savings in set-up time, but we needed another with larger capacity,” explains Blumeprot Director Josep Marsol. “We were attracted to Haas because of the impressive quality-price ratio. We also discovered that not only is the Haas UMC-750 the perfect size for our requirements, but it also is quicker and more precise than many other machines on the market, and produces better quality surfaces. Some clients want aesthetics, others want accuracy; many want both.”

Around half of Blumeprot’s output is destined for customers in the medical device sector. A further 20% is for the automotive industry, as well as motorcycle producers. Other sectors served include motorsport, aerospace, and science, to name but a few.

“Each application requires a different approach to manufacturing, and our mission is to advise clients with the solution that best fits their needs,” says Marsol. “We are always happy to help analyse the functionality of prototypes. We also collaborate with clients to study a redesign in order to achieve lower costs and maximise the benefits in subsequent volume production.”

Parts machined on the Haas UMC-750 have included a batch of wheel hub components for a French rally car team. Made from magnesium, they require the production of numerous features, including scallops, ribs, bosses, irregularly shaped pockets and inclined surfaces, some to tolerances of 0.02mm.

Marsol says that Blumeprot’s aim is always to deliver high-quality parts quickly, at the right price. To help with this, there’s a seat of Missler TopSolid at every machine in the workshop, so each machinist has full responsibility. Shop-floor staff are more than just operators.

“We are like a training school,” Marsol laughs. “All our machinists are trained to a very high standard. We need them to be switched on, so we can meet our tight deadlines, especially since installing the UMC-750, which has already helped us attract more work.”