If you put an engineer with a love of golf together, you get Sink Golf – a company located in West Sussex that manufactures golf putters. This South Coast manufacturer has recently invested in a Dugard 760 machining centre from Dugard Machine Tools to machine its bespoke golf clubs.
Discussing how the Littlehampton business started, company founder Olly Longlands says: “Four years ago I was living out in New Zealand and got into CNC manufacturing. I loved it so much that when I returned home to the UK, I bought a 2008 Dugard machine at auction – and I didn’t even know how to turn it on. I called Dugard and they were absolutely unbelievable, with their help and learning from YouTube videos, I managed to get my business up and running.”
Upon his return to the UK, the entrepreneur worked in the family sheet metal business whilst spending his evenings and weekends getting his business off the ground. Now, the small business receives enquiries from online channels like Instagram, Facebook and even LinkedIn. From the enquiry phase, Olly liaises with customers on their bespoke requirements and then designs the putters using FUSION 360. When a final design is confirmed, Sink Golf will programme the putter in FUSION 360 and send the programme to the Dugard machines on the shop floor.
Discussing the arrival of the latest Dugard 760 machining centre, Olly adds: “I decided in January to run the business full-time and it has just gone from strength to strength. I got so busy that I couldn’t keep up with orders with just the one machine, so I went out and bought a new machine – and it wasn’t going to be anybody else other than Dugard.”
“We are machining two types of material, 303 stainless steel and mild steel. Now I have two machines, I can do the first operation on the new machine and then do the facing on the older machine. I enquired about the machine and from there it all happened so fast. Mark from Dugard was brilliant, and he told me that Dugard had a machine coming in. From order to delivery and installation, the process was so fast and easy, it was just brilliant,” says Olly.
The benefits of the new Dugard 760 3-axis machine installation are evident. As each club is bespoke to the individual golf enthusiast, production times differ from club to club. “Some clubs will have four hours of machining time and another we just produced was a Damascus club (a process where multiple metals are joined in layers under extreme heat) that took more than 32 hours. So, the processing time varies. However, the rigidity of the new machine enables us to run our tools faster and harder whilst improving our surface finishes and tool life. This makes us 40% more productive and secondary hand finishing times are reduced.”
The new Dugard 760 has a 20-tool ATC and when combined with the 16 tools in the older machine, this reduces set-ups, tool changeovers and downtime. As an example, the rough machining time on the previous machine would be 1 hour 15 minutes and the new Dugard 760 has reduced this to less than 40 minutes, a 40% saving. Furthermore, tool changeovers on the ageing machine are 11.2 seconds and the new machine can change tools in just 2.4 seconds.
Commenting upon the benefits of the new machine compared to its predecessor, Olly concludes: “The new machine has a swarf conveyor that saves a lot of time and I can keep the machine running for longer throughout the day without downtime for cleaning and removing swarf. With regards to machine running hours, this can depend on how finely detailed the build of the golf club is. Sometimes the machine can run for up to 8 hours a day and other days it may be just 3 to 4 hours. I recently did a job to create an accessory for golfers to use on the green. To produce this, the machine was running constantly day and night for four days – the machine ran superbly with no problems. If I ever did have any problems, I know that Dugard be there to help as the service from them is brilliant.”