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Heavyweight champions of the (tooling) world

Estimated reading time 5 minutes

Renowned within the industry for its plastic mould tool and pressure die expertise, Superite Tools has recently invested in a trio of large capacity CNC milling machines to further extend its capacity. The three Hurco machines, have been put to work helping modify, repair and enhance the UK’s customers’ tooling.   

Superite Tools was established in 1955 by Alan Collins, a time served engineering apprentice and Naval Petty Officer. Today, the family-owned and operated business is under the auspices of his son, Martin and his management team who boast over 100 years industry knowledge and experience. As Managing Director, he has steered the West Midlands-based company to ensure it offers services and capabilities that are often ‘above and beyond’ the norm. This includes being able to work on large tooling up to 15 tonnes, with craneage and material handling systems in place to manipulate large workpieces.

General Manager, Craig Dingle, explains: “Being one of the few companies in the country that can handle tools weighing up to 15 tonnes means we have very little direct competition, and this has established a sustainable customer base for us. Our latest investment in the three Hurco milling machines enhances this even further because we now have the ability to load tools up to 2,200 x 1,700 x 750 mm on the bed at weights of up to 8 tonnes.”

This impressive capacity is provided by a large double column Hurco DCX 22 vertical machining centre that features a 12,000 rpm 18 kW spindle, supplied by a 40-tool automatic tool changer. With rapid traverse rates of 24 m/min and cutting feed rates of up to 7 m/min, it can certainly chew through some metal.

Alongside the twin column machine are two Hurco VMX 60T 3-axis vertical machining centres that are designed to productively deliver high-precision capabilities for batch production, one-offs, or mould & die work. Offering a machining envelope of 1,524 x 660 x 610 mm in X, Y and Z, these machines can accept workpieces up to 2,000 kg on the 1,676 by 660 mm worktable.

As well as tooling modification and tooling repairs these machines will also provide an increase in the capacity of the precision machined parts that the company produces as a subcontract service. Although a high variety of parts are machined by Superite Tools the batch sizes are kept intentionally low. Craig Dingle notes: “We try to stay between single parts and 100 off due the demand of our market, this ensures our engineers are equipped to deliver high-quality and cutting-edge solutions to meet the diverse needs of our clients.”

All these latest machines installed in Superites Tools’ impressive purpose-built 12,000 ft2 facilities feature Hurco’s twin screen Winmax control system. It allows Superite Tools to directly transfer files from the latest suite of Visi CAD/CAM software used by it engineers and supports both conversational programming as well as G and M code input directly at the controller.

“Although the control system was a departure from the Heidenhain CNC systems we use on our other five machine tools, everyone has quickly adapted to the different control system which is testament to their flexibility and skill levels,” says Tooling Manger, Adrian Brown.

Technical Manager, Craig Smout, adds: “Of course, when you are looking to repair or enhance over 80 tools per month, which we regularly do, you must consider every step of the operation. Using the latest CAD/CAM software ensures we can accept various CAD files from our customers as well as all the industry standard file extensions. For legacy tooling we can scan and reverse engineer the parts to capture the necessary data.

“Superite has the ability to collect a tool nationwide from a customer that is in dire straits and get it back to us within 24 hours, this is all part of our ‘rapid response’ service. Once the tool is here one of the management team can quickly evaluate the work required and swiftly provide a quote and estimated turnaround time. Our three managers have a combination of over 100 years’ tooling project management experience, the unique element of this results in our customers having consistent support and service from one of the managers ensuring an end-to-end single point of contact philosophy.”

Of course, not all of the tooling supported by the ISO 9001:2015 accredited company are large, modifications and repairs can be carried out on even the smaller injection mould tools. Martin Collins is also keen to point out that the business is tooling agnostic. As he explains: “Toolmaking is a global industry, and many businesses purchase tooling from overseas to meet cost and delivery constraints. At Superite Tools, we accept this as part of the ongoing development of the industry and we will support the rapid repair and modification of any tool from anywhere in the world. The key for us is to get our customers back into production in a timely manner with a repaired or enhanced tool that meets the high-quality levels we set ourselves and that the customers have come to expect from us.”

Having operated successfully for over seven decades, Superite Tools has come a long way since Martin’s father borrowed £150 to purchase his first lathe and worked evenings in a wooden shed. With Martin’s children already working in the thriving family business, Superite Tooling is set to continue along its chosen path. Which is great news for existing and potential new customers.

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