About a year ago, the company Mike O'Connor and Alvaro Callejas worked for closed and the business was liquidated. They suddenly faced the life-changing choice of either finding a new job or creating one.
The two chose the latter, acquired three CNC machine tools and opened PCW Manufacturing Inc. in Stuart, FL.
Job orders came to PCW even before the shop officially opened its doors. Today, business continues to grow for O'Connor and Callejas. "Unlike the competition, PCW provides customers complete project service and management, handling all of the machining work as well as coordinating any required secondary processes, such as plating or heat treating," said a company spokesperson. In many instances, the shop wins the job because it will manage all the other aspects of a project. Some of the suppliers the shop uses for secondary part operations have actually funneled machining work over to PCW in return.
Both O'Connor and Callejas agree that truly successful shops must be solution providers as well as full production managers, even though a shop might only provide the machining portion of part production. PCW also adds value and helps its customers refine part designs and associated manufacturing processes to remove as much cost as possible from the overall project.
PCW's manufacturing capabilities contribute to the shop's overall success. Currently, the shop has three machines from Mazak: two VERTICAL CENTER SMART (VCS) 510C vertical machining centers (VMCs) and one QUICK TURN NEXUS (QTN) 250MS II turning center with multitasking capability.
The VCS 510Cs are 3-axis ma- chines with 12,000 RPM spindles, 40" x 20" tables and 30-tool magazines. For multitasking, Done In One part processing, PCW's QTN 250MS II features two turning spindles and a turret with live rotary tool spindle.
"Mike and I put our futures into this company," explained Callejas. "So when it came to machines, we wanted a brand with a well-known reputation and machines that delivered the same
values and capabilities we provide for our customers, which are quality, reliability and performance. When potential customers see our Mazaks, they never question our capabilities to produce their parts. They realize we are serious about what we do."
PCW's customer base includes firearms shooting range systems, aerospace, marine, construction (elevator parts), energy (industrial gas turbine parts) and medical. The shop is also involved in the development stages of a non-invasive spinal therapy system.
Jobs at PCW range from those with one or two prototypes to others with lot sizes of around 15,000 pieces. For one of its best customers, Savage Range Systems, PCW provides full product development services, from design and engineering to producing prototypes and running production.
Typical job turnaround times vary from a couple of days to four weeks, and the shop has a few customers that place blanket orders. On average, PCW ships between 10 and 12 jobs per month.
The majority of parts are made from various steels, stainless steels (17- 4, 316, 347), aluminum (marine and aircraft grade), copper and bronze. Parts vary in size from 0.250" in diameter up to 30" in length, and tolerances run from +/-0.005" to as tight as +/- 0.0002". For some jobs, such as bolts for concrete casting, the shop has to reverse engineer from an existing part and spec out the whole job, produce a first article and then run production.
PCW's first job was one that made its way over from O'Connor's and Callejas' former place of employment. There, according to O'Connor, they would machine Op. 1 on about 100 parts, tear down the machine set-up and run the opposite ends of the parts in the same chuck. Now, with its Mazak twin-spindle QTN 250MS, PCW uses single part flow and machines one end of a part in the main spindle, and then the machine performs an automatic hand-off to its second spindle, where the part is finished and comes off the machine complete-in a total part cycle time of less than a minute.
“We underestimated how much we would come to depend on the QTN 250MS," said Callejas. “Once customers found out we had that kind multitasking capability, they gave us even more work. In fact, the machine is often completely booked and runs at 90% capacity the majority of the time."
Besides the machine's second spindle and milling capability, Callejas said that other QTN 250MS features that the shop benefits from the most are its ability to turn up to 14" diameters and its 3" spindle through-hole bar capacity.
“When it came time for us to acquire machine tools, we called Mazak," said Callejas. “We carefully considered exactly what work and capabilities we wanted to provide to our customers. We selected the 3 inch diameter through hole so we have a wider capability and capacity range in terms of part materials and sizes that we can machine."
The QTN 250MS's Done In One processing also allows PCW to hold much tighter part tolerances, and does so consistently hour after hour and day after day, according to O'Connor. In one instance, the shop consistently held bore size tolerances to within +/- 0.0002" on parts 10" wide and weighing 30 lbs. each.
On the milling side, features of the VCS 510Cs that benefit PCW the most are large table capacities, ample tool storage, auto tool probing option and easy programming, along with high quality, precision and repeatability.
What also stood out to O'Connor and Callejas was their ease of maintenance and fast, simple set-ups.
The VCS 510Cs also handle any overflow work when the shop's QTN 250MS is completely booked. One recent example was an aluminum assembly component for a marine lighting system. The shop was able to completely machine them on the VCS 510Cs because of their precise 3-axis interpolation. The machines milled large center holes in the parts using circular interpolation, thread milled the holes and then plunge milled slots around the parts' entire O.D.
According to O'Connor and Callejas, the shop's existing Mazaks—as well as any future ones-will play a key role in helping PCW provide manufacturing solutions for its customers.