There is a fear that the shutdown of Australia’s passenger vehicle production will erode the advanced manufacturing capabilities developed through manufacturing for the automotive sector. One Australian manufacturer is proving that these capabilities will continue to thrive in other industries such as the defence and aerospace manufacturing sectors.
Craig Maynard, General Manager of Axiom Precision Manufacturing and their new Mazak Variaxis i-800.
Axiom Precision Manufacturing is a family owned company founded by Neville Grose in 1979 in Edwardstown, South Australia.
Axiom originally started by manufacturing plastic injection moulds for the automotive industry, working for Ford, Holden and Toyota. They continued to work for Ford and Toyota until their respective shutdowns.
It was about ten years ago when Axiom identified the need to transition away from automotive manufacturing. They were finding it harder to meet the demands of the automakers and remain profitable. At the same time a lot of tooling projects were going to China forcing a serious re-think about the company’s source of work in the future.
Axiom specialised in the manufacture of “A” class injection moulds, lighting, interior and exterior moulds. These were manufactured in hard steels and usually quite complex to machine. The company felt these machining capabilities would give them an advantage in the manufacturing of complex defence and aerospace components.
Axiom set about to establish a reputation for high quality, reliability and affordability in the aerospace, defence, medical and electronic hardware industries. Today many companies around the world rely on Axiom to deliver products and projects on time.
Key clients in the defence and aerospace industry include ASC Pty Ltd, BAE Systems, Raytheon and the DST Group.
The purpose-built manufacturing facilities in Adelaide South Australia deliver precision machined components and assemblies, precision tooling and moulding, plus a range of surface treatments. The high quality CMM inspection and assembly departments allow Axiom to provide assemblies and sub-assemblies to the exacting standards required by their defence and aerospace clients.
Axioms machining facility is approximately 2,200 sq/m and they have 26 CNC machining centres and 6 CNC lathes. They also have 2 vertical five axis machines, the remainder are 3 axis machines, some with 4th axis tables. Axiom also have a few manual machines used for training of apprentices.
They purchased 2 Mazak Variaxis 5-axis machines in 2016 specifically for their capability. Both Mazaks were purchased to machine titanium components for the F-35 program, and the new capability enabled Axiom to win 4 additional components from an existing customer.
One Mazak Variaxis is used to machine one of the most complex components in the vertical tail of the F-35. This part is machined in 2 operations, and Axiom say they wouldn’t be able to do this without the 5-axis capability.
Every F-35 built contains parts and components manufactured in Australia. Axiom is one of the local companies realising the industrial benefits of the program. Australian industry has already secured over AU$800 million in production contracts to date through the global F-35 Program, with an additional AU$6 9 billion of production and sustainment work being forecast through to 2050.
Axiom have found all their Mazaks to be strong, accurate, and reliable machines. These features are very important when using the machines to manufacture titanium aerospace components. Additionally, the price of a Mazak is very attractive when compared to other machine brands in the same category.
One of the big concerns of aerospace customers is how machine breakdowns and lost machine time are dealt with. Having local support from John Hart for their Mazak machines is another of the main reasons Axiom selected Mazak.
Axiom say the support they receive from John Hart is first class. If they have a breakdown or a machine issue they can rely on someone from John Hart coming out to their facility within hours to get them back to production very promptly.
At John Hart we have a thorough understanding of the importance of providing timely, reliable and skilled support.
That is why we boast an Australia-wide Mazak service network with a team of highly experienced and qualified application, mechanical and electrical engineers.
In addition, we have an in-house Mazak Electronic Repair Facility and a comprehensively stocked Mazak Spare Parts Department, enabling us to provide the best overall support of any machine tool company in Australia.
John Hart engineers also have a thorough understanding of the unique applications of machine tools and technologies required to process various aircraft components out of titanium, heat resistant super alloys, aluminium or stainless steels. John Hart engineers are available to discuss specific part challenges and how the Mazak technologies make machining these complex parts easier and more efficient.