ACIM’s products regularly outperform larger, more established competitors, and the Melbourne-based company says a key reason for this success is investment in Mazak CNC machine tools.

Managed by husband and wife team Anthony and Lisa Coleman, ACIM specialises in designing and manufacturing inflatable packers, hydraulic fracturing systems, tools and data loggers for the geotechnical, mining, and oil & gas markets. Established in 1990, it has grown from humble beginnings servicing the Australian market, to a company that now sells into international markets such as Chile, South Korea, Italy, Russia, America and Indonesia.

ACIM in-house designed products are recognised by customers for being innovative and of the highest quality. In 2013 when ACIM decided to bring manufacturing in-house, it gave John Hart the opportunity to offer a solution to suit its requirements. As a result, ACIM invested in a Mazak Quick Turn Smart 350M multi-function lathe with milling capability. The machine combines productivity, high accuracy and high reliability handling parts up to 420mm in diameter and 1,250mm in length.

Anthony explains: “Programming was the main reason we selected a Quick Turn Smart. It has proven to be very easy to learn, and being a small business we were under pressure to make good on our investment and produce parts straight away. John Hart showed us how to get the jobs started and we became comfortable using the machine faster than expected.

“Bringing manufacturing in-house also enabled us to respond quickly to our client’s customisation needs. The Quick Turn Smart has driven our development further, improved our designs, enabled testing, and allowed us to do it all in-house.”

The business growth brought about by the Quick Turn Smart investment resulted in a further purchase in 2019, of a Mazak VTC-530/20 – a high-speed, high accuracy travelling-column vertical machining centre.

Ian Swan, Victorian Branch Manager for John Hart, commented: “The VTC-530/20 was not only an innovative solution but also an alternative machine solution to the one that was originally considered by ACIM. The new machine facilitated the move of a majority of the milling from the Quick Turn Smart to the VTC-530/20 for improved machine utilisation and increased production.”

The long 2,300 mm x 530 mm table provides exceptional versatility. An optional centre partition allows the VTC-530/20 to be used like two separate machines. Part set-up can be performed on one side of the partition while workpiece machining is being performed on the other.

A compact machine footprint was another important factor for ACIM. The VTC-530/20 boasts a footprint 50% smaller than conventional machining centres with a similarly large X-axis stroke of 1,950mm.

The two Mazaks working together have enabled ACIM to further enhance production processes, cut down production costs and reducing overall manufacturing time. Anthony describes one recent job that showed the advantages of the Mazak machines.

“A customer requested a custom mining tool, with a tight turnaround,” he explains. “The product needed to be designed from scratch, manufactured, tested and delivered to NSW in less than two weeks.”

Achieving such a tight delivery requirement had historically not been possible, but with two world-class Mazak machine tools, the job was done and the customer happy.

At the time of considering the Mazak VTC-530/20, ACIM also evaluated the feasibility of using a CAM solution to make programs directly from the CAD software. The CAM system would complement Mazatrol programming by accessing the information and intelligence built into a 3D model and make programming faster, easier and less error-prone. A CAM system was also required to generate 3D toolpaths. Anthony looked into the leading CAM software options and selected hyperMILL due to its cutting-edge technology and high the level of support provided by John Hart.

Anthony and Lisa summarise their relationship with John Hart: “The people at John Hart work hard to provide our company with world-class technology and world-class value, backed by world-class service. It is clear to us that they tie their success to our success.”