One of the major advantages of Star's sliding head technology is its ability to keep working with minimal operator input. As soon as the tools are set and the CAD program is in place, you can walk away from the machine knowing it will reliably produce parts to the same standard every time. Batches of any size can be blitzed in a fraction of the time they would take on a fixed head machine.
Essex-based contact lens manufacturer Contamac saw a vast leap in productivity when they brought Star lathes into their manufacturing process.
We have a vast range of products we can now produce that we never had the opportunity to produce beforehand. We can now produce an average of 430,000 pieces per month.
While fixed head machines may boast a certain degree of capability and the ruggedness to produce quality hardwearing parts, each attribute is heavily outstripped by the capability and precision of a Star sliding head lathe.
Boasting the very latest technology such as live tooling and independently programmable axes to enable best-in-class accuracy, Star’s engineers in Japan are constantly pushing the limits of what can be achieved in this field.
Even experienced industry hands are taken aback by the astonishing capability of sliding head technology. RT Quaife, a motorsport manufacturer of 50 years, were able to increase the efficiency of their manufacturing processes when they brought in their first Star lathes.
One particular differential component used to take two turned ops and three milling ops, which required a lot of resetting and the use of at least two machines. It now comes off the Star lathe complete in six minutes. The range of parts we can make on the machines to what we were doing previously is immense.
First-time users of Star sliders often report their surprise at the time savings that can be achieved. Ian Lake, production manager at AAA Precision, was blown away by the speed of the company’s SR-20J lathe.
We're now probably moving on average about 50-60% faster than on the larger CNC machines we had. Cycle times would have been about a minute and a half for each operation, whereas at the moment on this machine (SR-20J), I've got them coming off in 33.6 seconds. Just by having the twin spindles, you're cutting your cycle times in half.
Factoring in the quick setup and changeover times along with the advantage of single-hit machining, moving to sliding head tech could be the best decision you’ll ever make.
Not only does sliding head technology allow for complex part features such as angle hole drilling on any surface - which could never be achieved through fixed head machining – completed parts also come out of production looking crisp and sharp. Star lathes can machine parts within incredibly high tolerances while also completing more aesthetically pleasing tasks such as deburring, engraving, and providing slick surface finishes. Ian Hampton of Asgard Engineering recognises the importance of the small details.
We make full use of additional end-working and the Y-axis on the sub spindle, along with angle hole drilling. We produce a particular medical probe with diameters as small as 0.7mm. There’s no way you could run a part like that on a conventional lathe - a sliding head lathe is the only way you can make that. Medical parts are the ultimate in quality control and surface finish.
Making the move from fixed head machines to state-of-the-art CNC sliders is an enormous step forward. The increase in accuracy and reliability afforded by the latest technological developments - along with the ability to reliably run the machines overnight - allows orders to be turned around with such speed that the lathe pays for itself in no time.
Adrian Maxwell, MD of Birmingham coffee machine manufacturers Fracino, witnessed an incredibly quick turnaround on his outlay for a Star SR-20J lathe.
The beauty of the Star is that we can machine 24/7. We gained an extra 16 hours' production every day - from 8 hours up to 24. After about 18 months we figured out that the machine had paid for itself in that short space of time. We'd budgeted for it to take five years!
Sliding head technology is one of the most progressive forms of manufacture and engineering. New branches and innovations are constantly being developed – and Star is at the forefront of this growth. As a company, Star has been a leading light in its field for over 20 years, and progress shows no sign of slowing down. The benefits users can gain from using leading edge technology are enormous - and sporting the latest machinery will set you apart from the competition!
Star set a standard that not many get up to. They're a very forward-looking company, constantly developing new machines and improving them. We're always investing in new plant from Star - we don't want to get left behind!
As most machine shops within the UK operate within similar spheres – Aerospace, Motorsport, Oil & Gas, Automotive, etc. – customers quickly become accustomed to a certain level of quality and reliability in their suppliers. Nothing is more impressive to a turned parts customer than a line-up of high-quality sliding head lathes ready to get to work on their products – and word travels fast. Jude Robinson of GWR Fasteners saw a sudden increase in orders upon installing their Star SB-20R lathe.
We took delivery of our first Star in September of 2014. We saw an increase in orders by 3000% - so we took the decision this year to get the second machine, to meet the needs of the customers.
Another fear that crops up when planning any plant acquisition is the anticipation of downtime. All businesses run to a schedule, and equipment setup can be a lengthy process which can unfortunately set production back for days or weeks.
When installing any equipment for both new and existing customers, Star GB are careful to ensure that all their machines hit the shop floor ready to run in the shortest time possible. And with dedicated partners for all kinds of ancillary equipment - including tooling, swarf removal, air filtration, and bar feed units - Star and their support network will prepare a complete production cell to get your factory running at full speed from the word go.
As with any new technology, you’re unlikely to know precisely what you’re doing in the early days. This may seem daunting, but the team at Star are committed to helping customers use their equipment to the best of its ability. Training is provided with any machine install, and full training packages on setting and programming can give your team the ability to use machines to their fullest potential – and gain an edge over the competition.
We had no sliding head experience at all. Due to a great training package based around the product provided by Star, our operator has done extremely well and now trains our other operators on using the machine and programming parts. Star have been very proactive in helping us, giving us information on finishing product, what tooling we require, and information on programming. The service has been fantastic.
Once you move away from fixed head lathes in favour of sliding head technology, you’ll wonder what took you so long! For turned parts of any complexity between 0.8 and 42mm bar diameter, there’s simply no contest. Nick Groom of long-time Star customers Qualiturn sings the praises of his sliding head array:
We started our business during a recession and had to do something to take a portion of the market. After running the first one, it was like, how did we even machine without sliding head technology?
Since then the machines have developed, adding power tools and sub spindles, becoming more sophisticated in the way they operate, and that’s given us the edge with our customers.
We’ve now installed our twentieth Star lathe, and we’ve been able to complete over 3,000 work orders – that’s 3.5 million components – in just six months.