Posted in Technical Members News on 5th Apr 2016
JoTiKa (Caldercraft) has sold 200,000 or so scale replica kits of model ships around the world which include more than 1,500 highly accurate and detailed versions of one of the most famous ships of all time - HMS Victory as she appeared at Trafalgar. When built, this static model is over 1.4 m long, 525 mm across the beam and almost 1 m in height and weighs some 15 kg. With each kit comprising over 9,000 individual items ready for assembly, 100 of these are brass cannon which are now finish turned on a Citizen CNC sliding head machine.
Run by father and son John and Richard Wright from a 5,500 ft2 CAD design, production and extensive part store and despatch facility alongside the family home in Hadzor, near Droitwich, John started his interests in model engineering at the age of 10. He served his apprenticeship as a radio/ TV engineer ending up as a service engineer for petrol pumps before setting up his model business. The business progressively expanded by adopting technology for certain key areas, including automated production, alongside the more normal highly skilled and dedicated work.
Indeed, the most recent move was to install a Citizen Cincom L20E CNC sliding head turn-mill centre in February 2015. This installation has not only brought its brass components, such as six month’s supply of 20,000 cannons in five different sizes and production of 100,000 miniature brass stanchions for HMS Victory and other highly detailed kits back from subcontract, but also, has added the practicality for on-demand in-house production.
The new Citizen is covering production of items as small as 0.6 mm by 5 mm long to components such as propeller hubs, water and fuel fittings, collets and couplings up to the machines 20 mm bar capacity. In addition, parts with multi-operational sequences including extensive profiling, miniature knurling, threading, cross-hole drilling of holes as fine as 0.7 mm diameter are now very quickly and precisely machined.
Said John Wright: “The Citizen machine has opened the door, not only to increased productivity and accuracy of detail but is now allowing us to design and precisely machine parts out of brass bar that we previously had to centrifugally cast such as the minute ship’s stanchions which are very intricate.”
He describes how this has contributed substantial savings against the cost of white metal plus the added outlay to power a 6kW pot to melt the material. Meanwhile he said: “Brass is currently a quarter of the price, easier to manage and we can sell back the swarf and bar ends.”
The installation of the Citizen was the final link in the current plans for the in-house production development chain that has absorbed over £500,000 in the last two years. JoTiKa was set up by John in 1988 to manufacture under licence and distribute products throughout Europe from a US company. In 1992 he obtained manufacturing and distribution rights for Caldercraft, the branded name for manufacture of its high quality and very detailed model products when JoTiKa became the parent and distribution operation.
Now, with over 100 actual scale static replica ship kits in the range, from static Men-of-War to steam yachts and World War II submarines, JoTiKa initially set up production by installing its own centrifugal casting of lead/tin fittings. Move two led to a flat-bed CNC router upgraded to maintain accuracies of 0.01 mm being installed for machining timber components followed by a profile laser to enable the cutting and etching of deck and bulkhead details. Here, for instance, HMS Victory consumes some 18 sheets of material for components.
In stage three, injection moulding machines were installed which have given rise to more than 100 different mould tools being produced. The Wright’s have even responded to the total lack of plywood suppliers in the UK by installing their own press which adds genuine detailed walnut, mahogany and pear wood facings.
Prior to the installation by Citizen Machinery UK, the Wright’s planned its future move into CNC turn-milling in 2017. However, an offer of a grant from Worcester County Council made it worthwhile to bring forward plans. The deal involved adding to the seven people employed of a full time operator to run the machine, which is set by Richard, plus a part time worker to help with the packing and despatch. Said John Wright: “This purchase was exactly timely for us because it has opened our eyes to what we can achieve in order to maintain our ‘made-to-order’ objective to support our worldwide distributors in particular in the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia as well as throughout the rest of Europe.
The final decision to buy the Citizen L20E resulted from the time Citizen engineers were able to spend to help explain to Richard Wright in step-by-step stages, the programming and capabilities of the machine in combining operations, for instance, as he lacked a CNC turning or milling background. Indeed, he said: “The Citizen also came over as being very easy to set ”
This is reflected with some 86 programs being laid down by him in just nine months and the machine being fully utilised over seven days and around-the-clock with cycle times varying between 40 secs and 1 min 20 secs. “While we never need the high accuracy the machine is capable of maintaining, we tend to work to tolerances on brass of 0.01 mm. However, surface finish is our absolute priority and where the machine and its tooling are able to achieve a highly stable operation.”
Said Richard Wright: “The flexibility we now have is transforming the business even allowing us to produce special, or dedicated parts. For instance, he describes one of his radio-controlled model power boats that has been clocked over water at 120 miles/hr!”
According to John Wright they still have 100 new products on the stocks for production on the Citizen over the next two years which are currently imported. He said: “By that time, we plan to fully stock our warehouse, the Citizen machine will have paid for itself, and we will also have added a further 1,500 ft2 to our premises.”
Wildish Communications Limited
36 New Road
Kent ME4 4QR
Tel: 01634 83222
Fax: 01634 832224
Issued on behalf of:
Citizen Machinery UK Limited, 1 Park Avenue, Bushey, Watford
Tel: 01923 691500
Contact: Mr Geoff Bryant, Managing Director
Scroll to zoom in on map