MACH gets back on track


There was a broad consensus among both exhibitors and visitors attending the recent MACH exhibition in Birmingham: the exhibition felt like it was back to pre-Covid levels.

The star of the show, of course, was the technology, as MACH visitor Andrew Heffer-Lamond, Sales and Project Manager at Suffolk-based fabrication specialist HF Bond, confirmed: “I visited MACH to look at the latest in automation and was blown away by the range on offer. I’ve lined up some demonstrations and look forward to making an investment in the right technology to drive our business forward.”

With so many visitors offering the same sentiment, a huge number of exhibitors reported strong order levels, including XYZ Machine Tools, which took orders worth in excess of £1 million. Spanning 12 machines, this figure is expected to rise in the coming weeks and months. “We saw a similar number of visitors to the stand as MACH 2022, but the quality was better,” stated Martin Burton, XYZ’s Sales Director. “There were more people looking to make an immediate or near-future investment, rather than discussing plans further down the track. In particular, it was nice to meet a number of companies who are considering XYZ for the first time.”

NCMT also had cause to celebrate, not least because 2024 represents the company’s 60th anniversary. This major machine tool supplier used the event to showcase five-axis machining centres such as the Genos M460-5AX VMC, which was one of the first Okuma machines to be exhibited in the UK with the manufacturer’s new OSP 500 control. It certainly captured the imagination of visitors, as Marketing Manager Vicky Knight reported: “After a consistently busy week at MACH it’s been great to see industry positivity and these initial conversations evolve into investments.”

Machines making their first MACH appearance were a common theme. Indeed, there were three debutants on the stand of Matsuura: the four-axis horizontal H.Plus-405 PC12 with twelve 500 mm² pallets for high-mix, low-volume manufacturing; the MX-850 single-table five-axis machining centre, now the largest in the MX series; and the Muratec MWR120G CNC multi-tasking turn-mill centre with front-facing twin spindles equipped with live-tool Y axis and milling function.

Yamazaki Mazak said it drew thousands of visitors to its stand. The company’s recent emphasis on entry-level machines created exceptionally strong interest, while further development of Mazak’s NC Mazatrol Smooth also drew the attention of visitors. UK Managing Director Alan Mucklow said: “The quality of the visitors to our stand, many of whom had a very high intention to invest in new technology, resulted in one of our best-ever UK exhibition performances. MACH 2024 proved that UK manufacturing is in good health.”

Able to corroborate this belief was Mills CNC, which took 30 machine orders on the show’s largest stand. A cursory glance at the list reveals multiple orders for DN Solutions Lynx and Puma lathes, DNM vertical machining centres, an SMX turn-mill machine, a SYNERGi automated manufacturing cell, and two high-speed tapping centres. The company also says a number of leads related to turnkey and process improvement project work, specifically involving Zayer machines. A large-capacity Zayer XIOS G MT horizontal bed mill took pride of place on the stand. “The feedback we received from customers and visitors alike has been overwhelmingly positive,” stated CEO Tony Dale.

The show’s biggest machine was a Correa Fox 60 bridge-type milling machine with enormous travel distances of 6,000, 4,250 and 1,750 mm in the X, Y and Z axes respectively. The machine took pride of place on the stand of British partner DTS UK, which at MACH took an order for two Correa Axia travelling-column CNC milling machines and two Fox M gantry CNC milling machines from long-standing customer WEC Group.

A cut above

MACH 2024 also proved a great platform for cutting tool manufacturers, with Ceratizit a case in point. The company scanned circa 2000 visitors on to its stand, all keen to see new innovations such as the patented MaxiMill-211-DC. A shoulder mill that provides direct cooling to the cutting edge in the flank of the insert, the new MaxiMill-211-DC (with 3D-printed body) is for the high-performance machining of aerospace alloys. Indeed, Ceratizit recently tested the cutter on a landing gear component made from titanium 555. At 9-10 mm depth-of-cut, the MaxiMill-211-DC doubled productivity for customer.

Another cutting tool specialist, Mapal, used MACH to showcase live tooling demonstrations with various machine tool builders, including the machining of an aerospace component on a Mazak machine featuring the PowerSpeed PCD face mill and newly released OptiMill-Alu-Wave. The solid-carbide OptiMill-Alu-Wave roughing cutter for aluminium workpieces can achieve staggering metal removal rates of up to 21 litres per minute on structural parts such as wing ribs and wing skins.

Of course, MACH is about far more than machines and tooling. The focus on the stand of Oemeta, for example, was helping manufacturers understand common coolant-related problems – such as bad smells, foaming, residue, skin irritation, sump life, corrosion, poor lubricity and sludge – and pairing them with solutions.

On the stand of mist/fume extraction expert Filtermist, visitors could discover two new welding fume units from its new Dustcheck FumeGuard range: a FumeGuard, which comes with a specially designed hood and options for disposable filter cassettes or cleanable cartridges; and a portable FumeGuard Mini for on-torch welding applications.

EDM was another popular technology area at MACH. Sodick, for instance, committed to its largest-ever MACH stand and reported its most successful show with double-digit machine sales. New models on display included the VN600Q precision wire-cut EDM machine and ALC600G iG+E wire EDM with iGroove+ technology.

While FANUC was among others to shine the spotlight on EDM machines, the company is known for its wide portfolio of automation solutions, including robots, CNC systems and machining centres. Regarding the latter, the centrepiece of the stand was a RoboDrill D21LiB5ADV Plus machining centre which now offers turning capabilities thanks to the addition of a Nikken two-axis high-speed rotary table. The machine spent the entire event producing scroll compressor housings from aluminium, showcasing live to visitors the cost-saving and performance benefits available from combining machining and turning in a single platform. “FANUC and Nikken have created a combined milling/turning cell at a fraction of the cost of machines with similar capabilities,” said Oliver Selby, Head of UK Sales at FANUC UK.

Strong as steel

There was no shortage of solutions on show for the processing of structural steel. Akyapak, for instance, shone the spotlight on its 3 ADM three-spindle, 10-axis CNC steel beam drill line. The machine allows users to perform multiple simultaneous operations without repositioning materials. Such was its appeal that Akyapak sold two machines at MACH to customers in Ireland.

New on the stand of Ficep was the XBlade, which can perform drilling, tapping, milling and sawing of various steel profile shapes with sections up to 305 x 305 mm on three sides, 450 x 450 mm on one side, and variable lengths (thanks to its modular configuration).

Crowds of people also gathered around the stand of Flow, all keen to catch a glimpse of the company’s Mach 200 waterjet machine cutting 10 mm thick aluminium. With its pivot and bevel cutting capabilities, and a head that uses a low-profile design to deliver five-axis cutting with taper control, the Mach 200 is suitable for advanced waterjet applications.

With traceability high on the agenda of many manufacturers, there was plenty of interest in the new desktop MarkMate Laser from Pryor Marking. At the heart of the MarkMate Laser is a fibre laser capable of delivering fast, crisp, permanent marks on metals, coated metals, plastics, ceramics and more. Marks can include serial numbers, logos, barcodes or any number of intricate designs.

A measured response

MACH did not disappoint when it came to metrology, with Mitutoyo among those leading the way. The company highlighted its new Strato-Active, a rigid, bridge-type CMM that offers accuracy of 1.2+3L/1000 µm. Able to measure at speeds up to 3 mm/s, the Strato-Active is ideal for mid-sized parts. The CMM features Mitutoyo’s new thermal compensation technology as standard.

Over on the stand of Hexagon, there was much interest in the company’s launch of a free digital benchmarking tool that helps machine shops see where they stand regarding digitalisation in comparison with their peers. Thought to be a market first, the tool identifies, within a defined seven-step process, which areas of a machine shop could see immediate improvements and what optimisations could come later as part of an overall business transformation project. At no point is there any obligation to adopt Hexagon technology. The tool is part of the company’s recently introduced machine shop excellence campaign.

First time for everything

Even first-time exhibitors lauded MACH as a roaring success. Among them was business transformation expert, Sharing in Growth. Jessica Harvey, Marketing & Communications, said: “We had lots of engaging conversations with UK manufacturers looking to grow their businesses. We look forward to continuing these conversations over the coming weeks.”

She sums up by adding: “It was a fantastic event showcasing mind-blowing technologies that will help develop the future of manufacturing.” Says it all really. Roll on MACH 2026.


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