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TGM Ltd - DCX32 Expands Capabilities for Aerospace Contractor

"Having the large-capacity DCX allows us the opportunity to pitch for a lot of new business up to 3.2 meters by 2.1 meters that we could not have previously undertaken."

-Steve Holmes, Director, TGM, Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom

TGM, an aerospace subcontractor in Preston, England, doubled its Y-axis capacity on the shop floor when the company invested in the Hurco DCX32 machining center with a work envelope of 3.2 meters (126 inches) by 2.1 meters (82.7 inches) by 920 millimeters (36.2 inches). With the DCX32, TGM can machine larger airframe components or fixture multiple parts for more efficient production.

Nearly half of the components that TGM machines are made from titanium, including wing and fuselage parts, such as longerons for BAE Systems’ Eurofighter Typhoon. The remainder of throughput is aluminum. TGM also does a lot of Airbus wing work in both materials, such as leading and trailing edges as well as main details for delivery to the OEM’s Broughton factory via Tier 1 suppliers.

The latest Boeing 737-600 has a backswept wing tip, which TGM manufactures, that yields significantly improved fuel efficiency because of the superior aerodynamics. Boeing has decided to retrofit similar wing tips to its entire fleet of 767s currently in service.

Hurco DCX32Steve Holmes, a director at TGM who joined shortly after its formation in 1998, says, “We see a bright future for the aerospace sector despite the downturn over the past 18 months. Having the large-capacity [Hurco] DCX allows us the opportunity to pitch for a lot of new business up to 3.2 meters by 2.1 meters that we could not have undertaken previously.” Optimism has translated into significant investment recently at the Preston facility, which has doubled in size to 16,000 sq ft. A new factory unit houses the DCX32, which has a twin-column, bridge-type construction that allows the large Y-axis travel without loss of rigidity. A 60 kW spindle mounted in a vertical ram gives ample cutting power and torque for machining titanium. A 40-station, swing-arm toolchanger keeps the carousel clear of swarf and maximizes the work envelope. Before TGM purchased the DCX32, their largest machine was a Hurco VMX84 vertical machining center, which was installed in October 2009, and has travels of 84 x 34 x 30 inches. A total of 10 Hurco machining centers now constitute a majority of TGM’s machining capacity.

Holmes says TGM chose Hurco when they decided to expand into large size machining centers because they have experienced a decade of prompt service and reliable production using smaller Hurco equipment. In particular, Holmes cites the proprietary, integrated Hurco control system that runs the latest WinMax® Windows®-based software. The control has a 40GB hard-drive with 2GB RAM and high-speed contouring capability. Approximately 40% of the programs, even complex 2D jobs, are written quickly and easily on the shop floor at TGM’s Preston facility using the control’s conversational programming. The time savings allows TGM to respond promptly to urgent jobs, particularly AOG (aircraft on ground) requests. The remaining 60% of programs are prepared off-line using MasterCam. Whether the customer provides a digital file or a drawing of an older component, a 3D IGES file or a 2D DXF file can be prepared quickly and downloaded directly to the control on any of the Hurco machines for immediate use.