A new machine tool described as “a production powerhouse” has been installed at Meeke Engineering in Wetherill Park, Western Sydney, and its new owners believe that it takes precision machining to a new level.

The new machine is a Kingfisher RAL12 CNC vertical lathe by Radar Industrial, a Taiwanese manufacturer of high-precision machine tools. The vertical spindle is supported to a full 360 degrees, eliminating ‘spindle droop’ and increasing the maximum weight allowable on the spindle. As Isaac Newton would have noticed, gravity provides a downward force on the workpiece, assisting the workholding. Minimal clamp force can be applied where desirable, and gravity keeps each part in the chuck. This not only provides additional stability, especially when machining delicate parts, but also dissipates the cutting forces created by heavy cutting.

Increasing capability

These facts were in the thoughts of the management team at Meeke Engineering as they considered the needs of their current and prospective customers. The team was seeking to add more capability and capacity to the company’s workshops by installing a new machining centre. They worked together with the engineers at 600 Machine Tools to identify they right machine for the envisaged tasks. After visiting an innovative manufacturer, the team chose a CNC vertical lathe built for heavy-duty cutting while maintaining remarkable levels of accuracy. After the configuration of the lathe was decided, including a Fanuc Oi-TF control, an order was placed with Radar for early delivery.

The Kingfisher RAL12 is a CNC vertical lathe designed, engineered, and built to very high specifications by Radar Industrial at its manufacturing facility in Taichung City, Taiwan. This company boasts a formidable reputation in the world’s engineering workshops, especially among those requiring fine tolerances in components for such market segments as aerospace and health.

The one-piece column is made from Meehanite cast-iron with a wide-span ribbed box structure, a machine design that provides excellent stability and rigidity. The new lathe is primarily built from a high-quality alloy steel, and its fully-covered and high-torque octagon-shaped structure is designed to handle the stress of inner and outer diameter cutting, and ensures cutting accuracy.

“We are delighted with the RAL 12 for a number of reasons, but most importantly for its precision” says Satish Sawant, General Manager of Meeke. “This is a direct result of the design, engineering, and build-quality. The Kingfisher RAL12 is a cleverly designed, cost-effective production powerhouse. Its sturdy construction provides rigidity and stability for longer tool life, toolroom accuracy, thermal stability, and fast run-times.”

Throughout Australia, Radar machine tools are sold, serviced, and supported by Sydney-based 600 Machine Tools, a member of the global machinery manufacturer and distributor 600 Group, a company with more than a century of expertise.

“When I first watched a demonstration of the RAL12, it became obvious that the design was a key factor,” says Cliff Purser, Managing Director – Asia-Pacific for 600 Machine Tools. “It enables the CNC vertical lathe to deliver machining excellence through rapid feed rates, fast and precise cutting, and smooth surface finishes. The octagon RAM provides superior damping characteristics, excellent thermal expansion control, and stronger rigidity than traditional square designs. The octagonal design counterbalances the machining forces on inner and outer surfaces, and ensures accuracy on both sides.”

Purser added: “Meeke will be able to count on the machine’s consistent accuracy, even when engaged in heavy-duty cutting, despite the RAL12 having half the footprint of a horizontal lathe.

Renowned problem solvers

Meeke has earned a reputation for providing world-class manufacturing, engineering, fabrication, machining and assembly services for a variety of customers in Australia and overseas. According to Sawant, this is down to the relationships his team build with clients.

“Our Wetherill Park workshops provide a lot more than just production capacity,” he explains. “Senior staff members frequently interact with customers to devise knowledge-based solutions to specific problems, often going on to design and engineer a prototype, before the chips start to fly.”

Meeke provides hydraulic cylinders and refurbishing, complex welding jobs, specialised CNC machining, and quick turnarounds when required. Sawant says that some of the typical challenges that the company might face include centre barrels for the mining industry, gearbox cases for the gear industry, moulds for the rubber industry, and hydraulic cylinders for the earthmoving industry. The company’s workshops are about 15km from Badgerys Creek, which is the site of the West Sydney Airport now under construction, with facilities for fast handling of express air-freight.

“At our base in Sydney’s industrial heartland, Meeke has the expertise and experience to produce everything,” says Sawant. “From a tiny component to a complete system that has been designed, manufactured, assembled, and tested under a ISO 9001:2008-accredited QA regime.”

Stop press

As this issue of AMT Magazine was going to press, Meeke has announced that it was in the process of installing and commissioning a very large swing lathe from US manufacturer Clausing Industrial capable of handling workpieces of up to 6m in length.

Based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Clausing’s four series of large swing heavy-duty gap standard CNC lathes are designed, engineered, and built for industrial-strength performance – in particular for heavy-duty stock removal. All the company’s lathes, drills, and other machine tools are tested to the most stringent accuracy, and test cuts are made before shipping.

“The powerful MA45 we have configured for Meeke is one of Clausing’s large swing lathes that is capable of machining, for example, 6m barrels for hydraulic cylinders,” says Pat O’Doherty, Sales Manager of 600 Machine Tools. “A member of the 600 Group, Clausing has led the charge in the world of heavy-duty machining since its founding in 1911, and at least one of its machines can be found in every major shipyard of the US Navy.”