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William Clarke is so pleased with the performance and the service back-up provided by Ward CNC for his new Hartford double-column Blockbuster Pro-2150 vertical machining centre that he would not hesitate to buy the same again at the right time!

As managing director of 80-employee Partline - a precision engineering company in Shipley, West Yorks, which has its roots going back to 1829 when the original company was established by William's great, great grandfather - he says the investment in the Hartford machine was Partline's timely response to the downturn and has re-emphasised the company's focus on the production of high-accuracy parts.

"Like most other companies we've held back on capital investment over the past year or so," says William, "but it was clear that the demand for precision parts has not gone away and we needed to install a machine that would ‘reinstate' our production accuracies if we are to maintain our burgeoning success in new markets art home and abroad."

The Hartford Blockbuster, he says, was an easy choice: "It is certainly more robust than other, competitor machines we looked at and its ‘spec-for-pound' comparison was very attractive."

With X, Y and Z axes travels of 2,060 mm by 1,560 mm by 780 mm, and a table size of 2,100 mm by 1,450 mm with a distance between the columns of 1,680 mm, the machine also features a two-speed geared headstock that provides 6,000 revs/min and 26 kW spindle motor power.

It has a 40-station arm-type automatic toolchanger, geared head and Hartrol-Fanuc AI300 (18iMB) CNC system and, as standard, the machine features 25 bar through-spindle coolant, spindle oil cooler, Renishaw OMP60 probe and fourth-axis interface.

Importantly, the CNC incorporates the user-friendly Hartrol advanced functionality programming routines that are available as standard. These embrace a series of easy-to-use cycles are designed to simplify and speed up programming times and therefore reduce downtime along with other useful setting and maintenance functions for ease of operator use.

The machine is being used by Partline to produce a variety of components of various sizes in a range of materials and, concludes William Clarke, "so far we are very pleased with its performance". He adds:

"In addition, the level of service and back up provided by Ward CNC has been excellent - so much so that we are now looking to order another Blockbuster."