5-Axis Machining Center

Honeycutt Manufacturing, Inc.
Mukilteo, WA

Honeycutt Manufacturing, a Mukilteo, Washington-based job shop in service to the aerospace, marine and general industrial markets, made a major investment recently in a GROB G550T 5-axis universal machining center.

For a number of years this family-owned and operated machine shop did well running 2-axis lathes and VMCs. A majority of their business came from the various Boeing Everett facilities and other aerospace-related companies in the local supply chain serving that major OEM. As General Manager Nick Honeycutt explains, “We didn’t feel we had the workload for a 5-axis machine at the time our local machine tool dealer, Vince Selway of Machine Tools NW, approached us about the GROB machines. We have a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Vince, so we were certainly interested in his suggestions.”

Honeycutt subsequently purchased a 4-axis HMC and the results were acceptable, plus a base savings had been realized. But then a particular job opportunity presented itself and the shop purchased its first GROB, a G550T 5-axis machine, with advanced machining technologies to move his shop forward.

After the commissioning and training, including sessions with the Siemens CNC account manager who gave the operators assistance with the SINUMERIK 840D sl control, the first parts were produced to spec on the very first day of run-time. In two weeks, Honeycutt Manufacturing brought a variety of customers into their shop to see the GROB machine in action and the company was immediately awarded more work.

Honeycutt found that they were able to reduce the machining setup operations from six to two with the GROB, cutting cycle times by 50% and reducing tooling costs by about 60-70%. Within 30 days, the shop was ready to buy its second GROB with Siemens CNC and plans are in the works for an addition to the building to house 3-4 more machines.

While much of the aerospace work Honeycutt does is aluminum with very high removal rate, a further advantage emerged with the GROB-Siemens combination. On jobs involving Inconel and Titanium, the power of the machine plus the 0.0006" typical accuracies and 32Ra finishes they were able to achieve won the machine shop even more work, according to Honeycutt. Those levels of accuracy and finish are critical on the parts produced, which range from aluminum leading edge to titanium elevator controls on the 737, lab devices for precision measurement, and commercial as well as pleasure boat components.

On the 5-axis machines at Honeycutt, the SINUMERIK 840D sl CNC is outfitted with the GROB-4 Pilot control panel, allowing the machine builder to incorporate additional applications onto the 24" operator interface (HMI). Honeycutt Manufacturing, founded in 1980, runs multiple shifts, seven days a week, and is continuing to expand to meet the additional business being generated by the GROB 5-axis machines and other services they provide, including waterjet and laser marking. Honeycutt has a network of local machine shop partners who provide swaging, certified aerospace and marine welding, precision gun-drilling, wire EDM, super-finishing, and large-scale as well as flat precision grinding services.

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