Click here to watch Tutorial Videos >

Reduce Cycle Time and Tooling Costs

Typical aerospace and other parts produced by Honeycutt Manufacturing. Owner Nick Honeycutt says the GROB machines hold 0.0006" tolerances and provide finishes in the 32 Ra range.

GROB G550T 5-axis machining center at Honeycutt Manufacturing. Much of the aerospace work is aluminum with very high removal rates.

With the GROB G550T 5-axis machining center, Honeycutt has reduced machining set-up operations from six to two, cut cycle times by 50% and reduced tooling costs by 60-70%.

GROB G550T 5-axis machining center

GROB G550T with SINUMERIK 840D sl CNC. On the 5-axis machines at Honeycutt, the SINUMERIK CNC is outfitted with the GROB-4 Pilot control panel, allowing the machine builder to incorporate additional applications onto the 24" operator interface (HMI).

GROB G550T machines at Honeycutt Manufacturing.

Honeycutt Manufacturing, a Mukilteo (Seattle), WA, job shop in service to the aerospace, marine and general industrial markets, made a major investment recently in a GROB G550T 5-axis universal machining center.

This family-owned and operated machine shop was running 2-axis lathes and VMCs for a number of years and doing quite well. The business came largely from the various Boeing Everett facilities and other aerospace-related companies in the local supply chain to that major OEM.

As General Manager Nick Honeycutt explained, "We did not feel we had the workload for a 5-axis machine at the time our local machine tool dealer, Vince Selway of Machine Tools NW, approached us about the GROB machines. We have a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Vince, so we were certainly interested in his suggestions." Honeycutt subsequently purchased a 4-axis HMC and the results were acceptable, plus a base savings had been realized. But then a particular job opportunity presented itself, and the shop purchased its first GROB, a G550T 5-axis machine with advanced machining technologies, to move his shop forward.

After the commissioning and training, including sessions with Siemens CNC Account Manager Daniel Vitullo, who gave the operators assistance with the SINUMERIK 840D sl control, the first parts were produced to spec on the very first day of run-time. In two weeks, Honeycutt Manufacturing brought a variety of customers into the shop to see the GROB machine in action, and the company was immediately awarded more work.

"We were able to reduce the machining set-up operations from six to two with the GROB, cutting cycle times by 50% and reducing our tooling costs about 60-70%," said Honeycutt. Within 30 days, the shop was ready to buy its second GROB with Siemens CNC, and plans are in the works for an addition to the building to house three to four additional machines.

While much of the aerospace work is aluminum with very high removal rates, a further advantage emerged with the GROB-Siemens combination. On jobs involving Inconel and titanium, the power of the machine plus the 0.0006" typical accuracies and 32 Ra finishes they were able to achieve won the machine shop even more work, according to Honeycutt. These levels of accuracy and finish are critical on parts produced, which range from aluminum leading edge to titanium elevator controls on the 737, lab devices for precision measurement, and commercial as well as pleasure boat components.

Vince Selway, the machine tool dealer for GROB in the area, is a longtime partner to Honeycutt. "My father sold machines to Honeycutt, so we have a long history with the shop," he said. Selway detailed the sale of the first 5-axis machine, noting that "it worked out well-they were so excited by what they witnessed on their shop floor. It performed aluminum hog outs at an incredible rate. Even better was the accuracy, finish and speed achieved on the really tough-to-machine materials."

Andy Krupp, a Universal Machine Applications Engineer at GROB, discussed his company's focus for this project. "GROB is a global supplier to the automotive, aerospace, mold & die and energy industries," he said. "We are also involved in many emerging technology developments, such as e-mobility. We build our 5-axis machining centers for our metalworking customers, plus we can supply full automation cells to meet their specific production requirements. This can be a dedicated, high-volume solution or a highly flexible solution for a low-volume, high-mix production. The GROB horizontal 5-axis design is unique and offers many advantages over conventional 5-axis vertical machines on the market. All of these machines are built at our factory in Bluffton, OH. On this Honeycutt project, the addition of our 5-axis machines helped to significantly improve their aerospace part production while maintaining the highest quality standards."

Commenting on the SINUMERIK 840D sl CNC, Krupp further noted, "Siemens is one of several controls we use on our machines, but is the only control for special complex machining options we have developed on our machines, including multitasking mill-turn, skiving (used for gear production), high-end hobbing, crossfeed spindle configurations and more."

Krupp continued, "One of the great things about using the SINUMERIK 840D control is its ease of use. Training people who have used other brands of CNCs and bringing them to a comfort level using Siemens has actually been quite simple. Inputting information and using the control seem to be very intuitive, and we have found that this cuts the learning curve significantly."

On the 5-axis machines at Honeycutt, the SINUMERIK CNC is outfitted with the GROB-4 Pilot control panel, allowing the machine builder to incorporate additional applications onto the 24" operator interface (HMI).

"The Siemens CNC was a relatively easy learn for our operators, due to the training we received from GROB and Daniel from Siemens," said Honeycutt. "We had a lot of experience with other control brands, but the speed and power of the GROB 5-axis machines with SINUMERIK made the higher-level CNC very necessary to execute our complex operations on a single machining center." He also noted that the Siemens control on the GROB machines easily interfaces with the Honeycutt CAD and CAM platforms they use here, namely, Dassault SOLIDWORKS and Open Mind HyperMill.

Selway of Machine Tools NW said, "The capabilities of the GROB machines with Siemens helped sales at Honeycutt almost immediately. My customers who are most successful are the ones who follow the proper protocol for training, invest in it and take the time to do it properly. They go to the factory, meet the people at GROB, get a deep understanding of the machine's functionalities and diligently complete the training for their operators. This all contributes to more success with the machines in a much shorter time span. The owners of Honeycutt Manufacturing were motivated and took the time to learn. It has clearly paid dividends at their company."

Nick, along with his brothers Steve and Tim, run the company their father founded in 1980. The shop runs multiple shifts, seven days a week, and is continuing to expand to meet the additional business being generated by the GROB 5-axis machines and other services they provide, including waterjet and laser marking. Honeycutt has a network of local machine shop partners who provide swaging, certified aerospace and marine welding, precision gun-drilling, wire EDM, super-finishing and large-scale as well as flat precision grinding services.

For more information contact:

Honeycutt Manufacturing Inc.

12402 Evergreen Drive

Mukilteo, WA 98275


GROB Systems, Inc.

Machine Tool Division

1070 Navajo Drive

Bluffton, OH 45817


Siemens Industry, Inc.

Machine Tool Business

390 Kent Avenue

Elk Grove Village, IL 60007


< back