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Workholding provides multi-pallet, multi-axis, solution for R&G Precision Engineering


The simplicity and ease of use of the WNT ZSG-4 vice system makes setup very straightforward

The availability of CAD models for all of WNT’s workholding range has been a major help to R&G Precision Engineering

Combining the ZSG-4 vice with WNT’s MNG Zero Point baseplate on each of the 32 pallets on the Matsuura machine was an obvious choice for R&G Precision Engineering

The ZSG-4 vice system is extremely compact, making it ideal for five axis machining on multi-pallet machines

Phil Parish (left) discussing a typical component with Joe Giamassi

R&G Precision Engineering’s latest 18,000ft2 premises are a long way from the original shed that the company first started out in

When Wellingborough-based R&G Precision took its first steps into full five axis machining with an investment in a Matsuura MAM 72-35V, it turned to WNT (UK) to provide the workholding solution for the machine’s 32 pallets.

R&G Precision Engineering is one of those classic success stories, beginning life with two friends Vic Rigalsford and Giuseppe (Joe) Giammasi setting up the business in 1974, literally two men in a shed working evenings after doing their ‘day job’, taking on any and all work that was sent to them. When Vic retired from the business in 1983, Joe continued to develop the business, relocating several times, including working from a pigsty, which had to be cleaned before they could move in! More conventional premises were later purchased before the business settled in its current location occupying an 18,000 ft2 facility in Wellingborough, from where it provides precision machining, spark erosion, grinding and assembly to a broad spectrum of customers from the motorsport, medical, oil & gas, defence, telecomms and aerospace sectors.

“We have experienced steady growth throughout the businesses existance, but we literally started with one manual lathe and I was delegated to be the salesman by Vic,” says Joe Giammasi, Chairman, R&G Precision Engineering. “The biggest influence on our business was when we purchased our first CNC machine almost 24 years ago, that led to further expansion and brought us to where we are now  machining components for some prestigious customers across a wide varaiety of industrial sectors.”

As this growth continued R&G Precision Engineering had to look at alternative manufacturing solutions and this led to the purchase of its first full five-axis machine. “The benefits of the multi-pallet Matsuura were plain to see as the type of work we were doing would allow for long periods of unmanned machining, with typical cycle times of an hour and, with 32 pallets we could throw lots of work at it and let it get on with it. Our initial problem, though was workholding,” says Phil Parish, RG Precision Engineering’s Head of Programming & Engineering. “It was then that Warren from WNT arrived and left one of their ZSG vices with me to ‘play with’. I was like a kid in a sweetshop as, along with the physical vice, WNT also provides detailed CAD models for all its products so I was able to visualise lots of different workholding scenariaos.”

The result is that all 32 pallets on the Matsuura are now equipped with the WNT MNG Zero Point clamping system and WNT ZSG-4 centric vices. The ZSG-4 is a mechanical centric-type vice that benefits from high clamping forces, up to 35 kN with a gripping range of between zero and 300 mm, yet they remain very compact, making them ideal for high-end, multi-pallet, five-axis machines such as the Matsuura at R&G Precision Engineering. The precise engineering that goes into each vice ensures maximum accuracy and repeatability of +/-0.01 mm. With up to 12 variants of the ZSG-4 vice available there is one for every application and when combined with the MNG Zero Point baseplate they can be mounted singley or, as double vices for further versatility. A further advantage is that they are compatible with existing baseplate systems and zero point adapter plate from other manufacturers. Location of the vices is kept straightforward, making use of a single pull stud and two dowel locations, making it easy to reposition the vice if required.   

“We are finding that we are being asked more and more to put together applications based packages for our workholding systems and we are winning business due to certain distinct advantages that the ZSG-4 system has to offer, especially for five-axis applications, where the compact design of the vice allows much greater access to the part. Other key features are the use of an encapsulated, pre-tensioned, leadscrew that aids swarf clearance and avoids the risk of clamping on trapped swarf, rather than the component. Also, the ZSG range has a much wider choice of jaws than other systems, including pendulum and adapter jaws that can grip circular and unusual shaped components easily, smooth or serrated jaws, stepped jaws, carbide coated jaws or soft jaws that can be machined to suit specific components. A key feature, though, is the ability to apply maximum gripping pressure, holding on just 3mm of material, without any requirement to pre-prepare the material,” says Warren Howard, WNT (UK), Technical Sales Engineer.

In addition to clamping components directly into the ZSG-4 vices R&G Precision Engineering also uses them and the MNG Zero Point baseplates to locate fixtures, adding even greater versatility to its machine capacity. The compact nature, and ease of access to the component also caught the attention of the quality control department, which has now invested in its own WNT ZSG-4 vice that sits on the corner of the CMM table allowing the same access to parts as on the Matsuura. This has improved the flow of work through that department and aided statistical analysis procedures. “We quickly realised that with the mix of work that we are putting through the Matsuura machine that vices, and in particular, the WNT ZSG-4 vice along with the MNG Zero point baseplate was the only way to go. It is proving to be quick, efficient easy to use and setups are straightforward thanks to the CAD models that WNT provides. With the baseplate setup that we are using the height of the vice from the base of the pallet is perfect, allowing maximum access to five sides of the component,” says Phil Parish.