Complete Manufacturing Solutions

Article from Matsuura Distributor, Yamazen Inc. 

St. Paul, MN (January 1, 2021) —Located in Palestine, Illinois, Flying S is an engineering company that creates complete manufacturing solutions for customers within the aviation and aerospace industries.

Flying S’s engineering team is supported by an extensive CNC machine shop and carbon fiber composite lab, allowing them to fabricate anything from carbon fiber aircraft wings to intricate molds and machined parts. Being committed to providing products that consistently meet or exceed customers’ expectations of quality and efficiency, Flying S is equipped to complete an entire project from raw materials to painted product in their facility. 

“Our company has grown very quickly,” said Peter Bowman, Manufacturing Engineer for Flying S. “We currently employ about 100 people and provide a very family-centric culture. Our goal is to continue on as a single shift company with happy people doing amazing work while improving the quality of life for our employees and their families.”

Flying S has been delivering high-quality products, on-time and at a great price, for almost two decades. The company was set-up with the intention of running unattended, however they did not have the confidence in their previous equipment to do so. “Many of our space fittings require tight-tolerance features. Our lack of reliable positional accuracy and repeatability, due to thermal growth or other variables, really took a toll on our efforts to consistently make a good First Part, and subsequent parts after that.” explained Bowman.

With the continued high demand of their products and with expectations of keeping the company to a single shift, Flying S began to focus on new technology. They needed to acquire a more reliable, highly accurate, multi-axis solution with multiple pallets and large tool capacity, which had the ability to run 24/7 truly unattended, while producing final parts that were spot on.

After exploring other CNC machine manufacturers and a myriad of informational machining videos, Matsuura Machinery continued to stand out. “We knew some of our competitors used Matsuura machines and after watching almost every video from MTD CNC on YouTube where they showcased Matsuura Machinery, we were impressed by the quality Matsuura puts into their machines,” said Bowman.

Yamazen is the exclusive Matsuura Distributor in Illinois. Flying S had a very positive experience with the technology and support provided by Yamazen in the past when they had purchased a Brother SPEEDIO M140X2. Knowing they would be working with Yamazen as well as Matsuura’s reliable reputation, Flying S had the confidence to make the largest machine purchase in their history.

“The Yamazen sales team and engineers really helped us understand the impact the Matsuura 5-Axis MX-520 PC4 and MX-850 PC4 could have on our business,” Bowman commented. “Having multiple pallets and the ability to run unattended with great process reliability, a familiar Fanuc control, and that the machine’s provided repeatability of 0.000039” — that’s not even a real number to me,” said Bowman.

The Matsuura machines’ repeatability for each rotating axis A/C is +/-2 arcseconds. This is a very important specification when purchasing a 5-Axis machine. The larger the workpiece, the more important it is to have precision and repeatability in the rotational axes, as error is compounded as a function of distance from each rotating axis’ centerline.

New machine delivery day had come for Flying S. “Yamazen’s installation and service were fast and helpful. The training for CAMplete and machine functionality were topnotch, and that continues with phone and email support when needed, without any issues,” commented Bowman.

“We ran our standard Flying S accuracy test block on the MX-520 first, which includes multiple intersecting 5 axis bores. We had never seen such a good test cut!  It was near perfect!” said Bowman. “We were also immediately impressed with the spindle uptime we were able to achieve, and we began running 24-hour shifts within the first week of install.”

The Flying S Inspection staff immediately noted that better parts were made with less effort to achieve First Part. These reduced man-hours and gave them more Inspection capacity. However, as the volume of completed parts began to pour into Inspection, the bottleneck quickly went from having to help the Machine Shop achieve First Part with Inspection Reports to simply being overloaded with parts being completed faster on the Matsuura machines. Flying S had to physically expand the size of their Inspection Department to accommodate final part inspection as a result of the volume of parts being produced by the Matsuura machines.   

Flying S reported that the Matsuura machines have been a huge success. They charted and reported the shop performance for a customer’s parts from April 1 through September 30, 2020.

Spindle Time:

533 parts were made on the MX-520 and 144 on the MX-850, making a total of 677 parts with an average batch size of 7.

Over this 6-month period, the two Matsuura machines ran a total of 5,187 hours, (3,144 hours on the MX-520 and 2,043 hours on the MX-850) with 2 machinists, roughly the same output as 4 of their current 5 axis machining centers, with 3 to 4 machinists within the same time frame.

The MX-520 maintained a 75% spindle uptime. The machines did not run on most Saturdays and Sundays due to limited pallet quantities. Factoring in 533 parts with an average batch size of 7, means 75 setups to First Part while still maintaining 75% spindle uptime. Flying S believes this really illustrates the ability for the Matsuura platform to handle ‘high-mix low-volume’ with the right planning and execution.

Flying S also reported that in the last 7 months, they produced more spindle hours on one Matsuura machine than they had on the other 5-Axis machines they’ve owned for 5 years. They have not scrapped a single part due to machine accuracy or issues since the Matsuuras were installed.

Setup and Quality:

On more difficult parts, a typical 5-Axis setup to First Part would require 1 initial part to check for offsets and then a second part would have a 50% chance of being correct. Subsequent parts would have an 80 – 90% chance of remaining error free throughout the process. This lengthy process burned through a great deal of man-hours and bottlenecked inspection resources, due to the back and forth with ‘correction data’. The 677 parts with an average batch size of 7 made on the Matsuura machines roughly entailed 100 setups to First Part. They have been getting First Part integrity over 90% of the time on the first attempt when machined on the Matsuuras. 

Due to lack of palletization, the 5 axis competitor machines Flying S owned could not be used for additional setups of other parts while the First Part was in Inspection. Also, all tooling had to be built and loaded into the machine fresh every time.

Matsuura Machines commonly have 2 or 3 different First Parts inspected at the same time, from the same machine. The Matsuura’s have additional tool changer capacity that worked well with Flying S’s tool libraries. They also found the use of zero-point workholding, combined with the accuracy of the pallet locating, made part probing unnecessary.

After working with the new Matsuura machines these past few months, Ben Parish, Machine Shop Supervisor for Flying S shared his remarks: “We’ve been very impressed with the Matsuura machines. Essentially not having to worry about machine positional accuracy, repeatability or consistency, eliminating several of the most concerning risks of creating non-conforming products. The user friendly control interface is intuitive and is laid out extremely well while, maintaining easy access to a pure Fanuc interface for those more comfortable in that realm.”

Parish also added, “CAMplete is a true comfort. The combination machine definition / post processor / NC code verification software helps to further eliminate potential issues and collisions. It also provides the ability to customize the post and include tool path refinement to improve cut quality while really tightening down on feature accuracy and surface quality.”

Parish shared that he and Flying S are true believers in Matsuura and that everything about the brand screams quality. They are also very pleased with the service and support they continue to receive from Yamazen.

“Flying S plans to continue our exponential growth and to further invest in equipment that maximizes our highly-valued staff for the future,” Bowman said. “Due to the extremely positive results we’ve had with Yamazen Inc., its sales and support teams, and the equipment they distribute, we plan to continue to work with Yamazen and its machine tool builders. We definitely see more (Matsuura) Blue 5-Axis machines in our future!”

Flying S is an engineering company located in Palestine, Illinois. They create complete manufacturing solutions for customers within the aviation and aerospace industries. Their family-centric culture provides food and activities for the employees and their families. Spouses and children are encouraged to enjoy a meal with their loved one at work. An on-staff chef provides meals for the employees every day using grass fed beef and free-range chicken from the Flying S farm, along with other locally sourced quality food items. Their goal is to continue to grow their business while maintaining their single shift staff and thus improving the quality of life for the employees and their families.

Matsuura Machinery USA, Inc., located in St. Paul, MN is the U.S. subsidiary of Matsuura Machinery Corporation in Japan. Since 1935, Matsuura has been the forerunner in designing innovative technology and manufacturing solutions to a variety of industries around the globe. Matsuura Machinery USA, Inc. delivers unmatched excellence in 5-axis, vertical, horizontal, linear motor, multi-tasking CNC machine tools and machines with a powder bed metal AM platform with machining capability. Matsuura Machinery USA, Inc. provides the service, applications and technical field support that have always been the Matsuura standard for business. For more information on Matsuura products, contact: [email protected] or visit: