German Die Shop Sports a Toolroom for Tomorrow
German tool maker Formenbau Kellermann GmbH has reduced lead times by more than 20 percent since investing in Visi die-design software from UK-based Vero, and installing a palletized production process with a zero-point clamping system. Vero maintains a U.S. office in Wixom, MI.
“Pricing pressure, competition from emerging countries and the trend toward shorter project terms are challenges that force tool manufacturers to rethink the classical form of single-item production,” explains Sabine Kellermann. “In tool making, flexibility and the use of the latest technology is a must. This basic principle also is applicable to Formenbau Kellermann where we have invested heavily in machinery and software so we are ready to adapt to changing market conditions.”
Process automation is a speciality of Formenbau Kellermann, and this starts with the tool design.
In 2004, the firm’s NC department was equipped with Vero’s Visi Machining, where the CAM tasks were shared with PowerMill, from Delcam. In 2009 the company switched entirely to Visi for all machining activities. “The advantages of a uniform, consistent CAD/CAM system outweighed the benefits of dual products,” explains Kellermann. “Typically we deal with short programming times, and feature recognition from native CAD data is an important component of our automation strategy.”
One function used extensively at Kellermann is the ability to automatically convert three-axis to five-axis continuous tool paths. “This enables us to reduce expenditure on programming time and still benefit from the advantages of five-axis machining,” explains Kellermann. “For example, one machining center allows for an approach angle from +16 deg. to -120 deg., where the distance between spindle and table is only 30 mm. This approach is applicable for most geometries and we benefit from better surface finish through the use of shorter, more rigid tooling and reduced vibration.
“There is rarely something that we cannot mill and we no longer experience bottlenecks on the CNC machines,” continues Kellermann, noting that the firm’s five-axis machining centers are equipped with a palette system that includes three round tables that can each be loaded with zero-point clamping systems. “A running process can be interrupted at any time,” Kellermann says, “without losing the zero-point. This can be particularly useful in the case of urgent repairs, or when spotting surfaces must be quickly remilled, all which affect lead-time and efficiency.”
Vero USA Inc.: 248/869-4040; www.vero-software.com
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