British luxury watch manufacturer Bremont Watch Company made the most of Sandvik Coromant and DMG MORI’s strategic partnership as it introduced a turnkey manufacturing cell to double capacity at its factory.

Bremont is a true British manufacturing success story. Founded by brothers Nick and Giles English in 2002, the company specialises in the manufacture of certified chronometers for the aviation sector. These watches are assembled, as well as shock- and quality-tested, at the manufacturer’s dedicated headquarters in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, in the UK. Production of the main components, such as stainless steel backs and casings, takes place just a few minutes’ drive away.

High demand and the launch of six new watch designs meant that Bremont’s production capacity had to be increased. To achieve this, the company purchased an NTX 1000, a state-of-the-art five-axis machining centre from DMG MORI, which came equipped with tool packages from Sandvik Coromant.

The project was six months in the making, explains Mathew Bates, a machine tool investment specialist from Sandvik Coromant’s UK Machine Tool Solutions team.

“From the beginning, the objective was to deliver a ‘right first time’ solution,” explains Bates. “We wanted Bremont to be able to use the new system straight away.”

Close collaboration with application technicians from DMG MORI was needed, with regard to the selection of suitable tools.

“We knew that we had to produce six new watches,” says Bates. “As soon as the drawings were ready we met with specialists from DMG MORI to compile a list of standard tools and to determine which special tools would be needed.”

Integrated automation for 24/7 operation

The DMG MORI NTX 1000 is equipped with a magazine for 38 Coromant Capto tools, with the option of expanding the capacity up to 76 tools. The turn and mill machine is suitable for turning and high-speed milling in five axes, simultaneously. Thanks to the bar loader, the machine produces the different stainless steel components around the clock without any operator intervention.

The NTX 1000 is designed to offer a perfect combination of maximum turning and milling performance. Key features include:

  • Six-sided complete machining — Production turning through synchronous machining with the B-axis and the lower ten-station turret at the main and counter spindles.
  • A direct drive motor (DDM) on the B-axis for five-axis simultaneous machining of complex workpieces.
  • Thermo-symmetrical headstock structure with coolant circulation.

Everything from a single source

Even before the installation of the machine, Frederick Shortt, an application technician at DMG MORI, and his development team created and simulated the numerical control (NC) programs with the Vericut computer-aided manufacture (CAM) system.

“Together with Sandvik Coromant we optimised all programs in such a way that as few tools as possible are needed,” says Shortt.

In other words, Bremont only bought what it really needed. As this all took place before the installation, Bremont was able to start producing from day one.

“This joint optimisation meant that any teething problems were reduced to a minimum and the investment quickly paid off for Bremont,” explains James Rhys-Davies, Strategic Relations Director, Northern Europe at Sandvik Coromant. “The call for such turnkey solutions will increase steadily. Although the preliminary costs are sometimes a little higher, the benefits of a fast return on investment (ROI) and maximisation of machine availability make such turnkey production cells a very attractive option, as cost per part is generally much lower.”

Tolerances between three and five micrometres

Exactly as planned, Bremont was able to start full production of the watch components immediately after installation of the new machine. Malcolm Kent, Production Manager at Bremont, has been extremely satisfied with the results.

“We were surprised at the speed and high quality to which we can now produce the individual components,” he says. “We produce very complex parts with tolerances of 3µm to 5µm, where quality and precision are of paramount importance. Thanks to the NTX 1000 in combination with the Sandvik Coromant tools, the processes are absolutely trouble-free.”

Bates adds: “Thanks to the collaboration between Sandvik Coromant and DMG MORI, it was possible to start production on the NTX 1000 on the very first day.”