Five years ago Dave Malin set himself up as a one-man subcontract machinist having re-mortgaged his home to buy a Citizen L20 CNC sliding head lathe to perform one-hit machining cycles on parts up to 20 mm diameter. Soon after setting up DJM Precision Engineering he was working all hours of the day and night and quickly became confident enough to install a second Citizen from Citizen Machinery UK, of Watford.

On the back of the Citizen installations the business has gone from strength to strength and following a move to a larger unit, that is double the size of his first production shop and just across the car park in a small industrial estate at Litchborough, near Towcaster, turnover has tripled. The company now employs five people including, Julie his wife, has six Citizens running around-the-clock, a fixed head bar lathe and runs two vans to service customers.

Such has been the progress of DJM Precision Engineering that with the strong possibility of winning a contract for almost a million components a year, the couple took the day off and went to MACH 2008 at the NEC Birmingham to check out the viability of the newly launched Citizen A20 sliding head lathe. Convinced this new machine would improve their competitiveness even further they costed out the cycle time and price per part, ordered the machine on the stand and subsequently won the business.

The Citizen A20 VII which was delivered in June, is permanently set to run 24 hours/day, seven days/week to meet the current 80,000 parts a month schedule, and apart from replenishing the bar feed and strictly timed tool changes – never stops.

Said Mrs Malin: “We were nervous about the risk but were sure the new machine would be so much more productive on this component than our existing three Citizen L32 and two L20 machines due to its higher rigidity, latest control software and shorter axis strokes. Even if we had failed to win the contract, we were confident we could easily put other work on the machine and be very competitive when quoting for parts up to 20 mm diameter because at the time, we were one of a very few companies with such a fast machine.”

DJM Precision has 20 regular customers and Mr Malin attributes much of the success and growth of the company to the decision to expand his machine bar size from 20 mm to 32 mm, with the installation of the three Citizen L32s and a long workpiece adaptor. Again – the result of thinking ahead on capacity, the long adaptor has brought in a considerable amount of extra business from existing customers such as the one-hit cycle production of shafts up to 400 mm long. Also, new customers have been secured, due to the larger bar size, from areas as far away as Lancashire and Yorkshire and across to Cambridgeshire.

Indeed, today the Malins are working on other long term contracts involving JIT supply to an automotive customer where Mrs Malin goes to the customer’s stores to check stocks, prepares the production schedule and then delivers the parts, as needed, to maintain maximum/minimum stock levels.

This is a far cry from the early days when Mr Malin recounts how he opened the door to his new unit without even an Allen key to his name following the decision to ‘go it alone’ from working as a machine setter with a local subcontractor. It was there he learned to set Citizens instead of cam autos and still admits how the technology initially ‘frightened him to death’. However, with his first Citizen L20 installed – an event he will never forget due to the help and advice he obtained from Geoff Bryant and his team at Watford, he has never looked back.

Customers now range from automotive, agriculture, office furniture, brewing, marine and shoe industry sectors including many that appeared on his early customer list that still ply the company with work and one in particular that has a regular call-off of 50,000 parts.

Initially most components were produced from mild steel but now brass, aluminium, high grade steels and stainless steels in 303, 304 and 316 are on the bar racks in the factory for processing on the sliding head lathes.

The Malins have come a long way in the last five years, increasing their machines from one to six Citizens plus a fixed head bar lathe that was installed to produce larger components up to 42 mm diameter. They have even had potential Citizen customers visit from Israel to see what can be achieved by a very small company. But, behind the scenes, holidays are rare and the dedicated pair still fit Sunday lunch and friends between machine settings. “But,” said Mrs Malin, “now we have help with machine set ups during the normal working day, life is a little easier and it is giving Dave the chance to think about the type of jobs he can attract with his next Citizen installation.”

Profile prepared by Wildish Communications.

Keep up to date with our latest news at


copyright © DJM Precision Engineering Ltd