Ashton Jig & Tool was founded 60 years ago by the current managing director Jon Clifton’s father, Jon’s son Ben is now waiting in the wings to carry on this family business, which has changed considerably over the years. As the name implies it originally provided precision toolmaking supplying press tools and jigs and fixtures to local industry. Now with a gradual move into CNC machine tools, temperature-controlled quality control and spark and wire erosion, it has diversified, supplying a diverse range of customers from across the UK, including being a 1st and 2nd tier supplier to many blue-chip businesses from the gas & oil, nuclear, and pharmaceutical sectors among others.
“While press tooling is a smaller part of our business we still work to the same exacting standards in terms of quality and tolerances for our ongoing precision sub-contracting work,” says Jon Clifton. “Quality remains paramount to us, of course price is also important, so we have to work efficiently as well and invest where necessary.” It was this need to invest to meet a customer requirement that saw Ashton Jig & Tool first approach RK International Machine Tools, when it needed larger grinding capacity for a specific job. This resulted in an order being placed in September for a Perfect PFG-50150AHR column-type surface grinder, which with its 500 mm by 1500 mm table capacity was ideal for the work in-hand.
In addition to the larger capacity the Perfect machine also added greater control and flexibility to production due to the ability to program the rough and finish cuts for both depth of cut and number of passes. The machine’s auto shutdown facility also allows an element of unmanned operation as it will switch itself off once the required number of passes have been completed. “Having this auto shutdown feature is a major benefit as it generates extra production hours for us as we are confident to be able to walk away and leave the machine running.”
While this first Perfect grinder was being built, at the factory Ashton Jig & Tool faced more grinding pressure when an old machine it had been using for many years, in the words of Jon Clifton ‘blew up’. beyond economic repair this meant that he needed to replace that capacity as quickly as possible so called RK International again. “Given the urgency of this second machine, we were relieved to hear that RK International had a machine, a Perfect PFG-D4080AH saddle-type surface grinder in stock. With its 400 mm by 800 mm table being ideal for what we needed, and, we could have it delivered within three days of our initial phone call. The service provided by RK was exceptional, they knew we were desperate for the machine and pulled the stops out while at the same time not trying to capitalise on our situation with regards to the cost of the machine.”
With both machines now installed side by side the operators, including Jon’s son Ben, quickly came to terms with the control systems, taking to the machines like ‘ducks to water’ according to Jon Clifton. Within a couple of hours the machines were being programmed and operated to their full capability and achieving tolerances and quality of finish described as exceptional in comparison to the previous machine. “The availability of the one micron readout and total elimination of any bounce when pitching across on the larger machine has given us the results that we wanted,” says Jon Clifton. “We are now able to better manage our production due to the consistency that we can grind to, even on materials such as 17-4PH stainless steel as shown in the photos.
The saddle-and column -type machines from Perfect share similar features, such as their optimised construction using high quality cast iron, with major components stress relieved to ensure maximum rigidity, stability and machining accuracy. Slideways feature Turcite-B coating that adds to smoother motion and longevity of the slides. The cartridge-type spindles feature class P4 high precision angular contact bearing that achieve runout accuracy of 2 micron, with the added benefit of being sealed and lubricated for life. Both types of machine can also be fitted with the optional AD5 auto down feed system making them fully automated for additional productivity gains.
To see more details on the column type PERFECT PFG-50100AHR, click here >>>
For more information on the PERFECT PFG-D4080AH with its 400 x 800mm grinding capacity, please click here >>>
Learn more on the complete range of PERFECT surface grinding machines including PLC, Rotary and Reciprical table models.