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Case Study: Lazer Engineering

Lazer Engineering, East Lothian, has expanded its contract machining, assembly and fabrication business considerably in recent years, particularly since installing two new Star SR-32J sliding-headstock, multi-axis mill-turning centres in 2007 and 2009. Both are equipped with FMB Turbo 3-36 bar magazines, also supplied by Star GB.

Established in 1995, Lazer is owned by three partners – Chris Burns, David Grundison and Jim Cairney. They and their 22 staff now operate from a 9,500 sq ft, purpose-built facility in Musselburgh, near Edinburgh. The subcontract business, which has ISO9001:2008 quality management accreditation, offers a wide range of turning capacity, producing parts from around 3 mm diameter on the Stars up to 500 mm diameter and one metre long on fixed-head lathes.

Recently, an access equipment manufacturer that had been let down by a previous supplier awarded Lazer a contract for scheduled supply of parts that justified the purchase of the second, 32 mm capacity SR-32J slider.

Chris Burns said, "Our first experience of Star's sliding-head lathes was in 2003, when we bought a used, 20mm bar auto, a VNC-20, to replace a different make of slider that had caught fire.

"Even though the Star was a 1984 model, it ran well from the start and continues to do so. It was one of the main reasons for our investing in the first new SR-32J when work started to increase and customers began asking for larger batches, say up to 2,000-off.

"The reliability of the new Stars means that we can confidently leave them to run around the clock. Every morning we arrive to find a basket of faultless components from the unmanned overnight shift."

Lazer's business continues to grow, based on production in a variety of materials including mild and stainless steels, brass and plastics. Mr Burns is actively looking to expand into medical work, as he has complete confidence in the Stars' ability to handle titanium alloys unattended.

A recent development at the Musselburgh factory was the purchase of Delcam software to assist in program preparation, although Lazer's operators like the ease of shop floor programming using the Fanuc-based control fitted to the Stars.