Articles


 

SHARE:  

A Four-Course Fabrication Menu

By: Brad Kuvin

Tuesday, January 1, 2019
 

Four Course/Five axis laser cutting Prima Power
To trim laser-blanked and stamped parts, automotive-industry supplier Cecomp relies on this trio of 3-kW five-axis Laser Next laser-cutting machines. Included: a Laser Next 1530 (3050 by 1530 by 612-mm work envelope), a Laser Next 2130 (3050 by 2100 by 612-mm work envelope), and the newest, a Laser Next 2141 (4140 by 2100 by 1020-mm). Ten other Prima laser machines are at work in Cecomp’s other facilities.
The automotive industry thrives in Europe in no small part due to the contributions of Italian manufacturers and their suppliers. Hailed as the fourth largest European automotive market (behind Germany, the United Kingdom and France), Italians purchased 1.97 million vehicles in 2017, a healthy 8-percent jump from 2016.

The heart of the Italian automotive industry sits in Turin, the capital city of the Piedmont region located near the borders of France and Switzerland. Known as much or more for its cuisine and wines, Turin and the Piedmont region house some 50 percent of the 2600 companies working in and around Italy’s automotive sector.

Of course, OEM presence (Fiat (FCA), Ferrari and Maserati) is strong, and so is the component market. According to 2017 data from the Italian Automotive Association and the Italian National Institute of Statistics, Italian automotive suppliers exported products worth $23.9 billion worldwide—$1.1 billion to the United States.

MetalForming magazine visited one such supplier, Cecomp SpA, late last year, as part of a trip sponsored by Italian fabricating-equipment manufacturer Prima Power. Proud of its heritage of “giving shape to ideas developed by (automotive) designers,” Cecomp launched in 1978 as specialists in manual hammer forming of prototype sheetmetal parts. Today, as explained to us by Gianluca Forneris, sales managing director and son of the company’s founder, the firm develops and even produces (in low volumes) body panels, subframes and other components. Its equipment list features a lineup of stamping presses, Prima Power 2D laser-cutting machines for blanking, and 3D laser-cutting machines for trimming stamped parts.

Gianluca explained how company growth has hinged on its experience and expertise in prototype sheetmetal stamping, introduced into the company in 2000, along with 3D laser cutting. He notes the importance of creative styling by combining stamping and cutting technology—dating back to when his father, Giovanni Forneris, trained at the Fiat Styling Centre prior to founding Cecomp.

10 Presses, and a Trio of Multiaxis Laser Cutters

Touring the Turin facility (one of five the company operates worldwide), we spied 10 presses running, production lots of 300 to 400 in a very clean pressroom. Feeding the presses is a state-of-the-art laser-blanking operation highlighted by a 4-kW laser-cutting machine (a Prima Power Laser Genius LGF 2040). A Prima Power Night Train FMS automated material-management system keeps the Laser Genius stocked with material, and the automated setup also includes a sorting system consisting of four cartesian grippers mounted on a mechanical double-gantry structure, with one pair of grippers mounted on each gantry.

Also noted: a full factory manufacturing execution system tied into a fully evolved Industry 4.0 initiative, to track production and ensure optimal equipment utilization. This certainly proved to be an eye-opener, as I learned that the Italian Ministry of Economic Development launched, late in 2016, what it calls the Digital Tax Index—significant tax incentives designed to support Industria 4.0, Italy’s national strategy for digitizing industry. The five cornerstones of the Industria 4.0 plan, according to the Ministry website:

  1. Tax incentives for investments in innovative startups and SMEs.
  2. Super-depreciation—a 40-percent increase in the ordinary depreciation deduction for investments in new industrial machinery.
  3. Hyper-depreciation—a 150-percent increase in the ordinary depreciation deduction that applies to selected industrial equipment of an Industry 4.0 character (machinery that can exchange information with other systems through the Internet of Things).
  4. Tax credit for research and development.
  5. Patent box—a 50-percent reduction in corporate tax on income deriving from direct and indirect use of intangible assets (patent rights, industrial design and models, know-how, and copyrighted software).

panel bender Prima Power ABB
This Model EBe servo-electric Express Bender, installed at the ABB-Dalmine facility, is a key component in an automated production line including a Night Train material-management system and a combination punch press and right-angle shear. The line fabricates components for four basic families of switchgear in the ABB UniSec line.
As a final fabrication step, stamped parts route to one of three 3-kW five-axis laser-cutting machines (Prima Power Laser Next models). These machines, according to Prima Power officials, are designed, developed, manufactured and tested for the production of automotive and aerospace components, particularly high-strength-steel parts. Three different models of the Laser Next family are installed at the Cecomp factory in Piobesi (Torino): a Laser Next 1530 (3050 by 1530 by 612-mm work envelope), a Laser Next 2130 (3050 by 2100 by 612-mm work envelope), and the newest, a Laser Next 2141 (4140 by 2100 by 1020-mm work envelope), which Prima Power introduced in April 2018. Ten other Prima laser machines are at work in the company’s other facilities.

Highly Automated Switchgear Fabrication

Industry 4.0 technology also starred during our Italian adventure at a tour of the ABB electrification-products facility in Dalmine, Italy. The facility, which manufactures medium-voltage switchgear, employs a Prima Power Night Train material-management system and a PSBB compact, flexible manufacturing system to manage the movement of sheetmetal blanks as large as 1500 by 3000 mm. The production line includes a Model SGe6 punch press with right-angle shear; Model C1500 sorting conveyor; a PSR6/2 robot; and a Model EBe5 bending machine with an unloading system on roller conveyor, served by an ABB (of course!) robot.

Our tour guide, Fabio Golinelli, the facility’s advanced processes and technology manager, boasted of the line’s flexibility and productivity. Installed in May of 2016, the line produces components for four basic families of switchgear in the ABB UniSec line. Golinelli also explained the plant’s adoption of the Japanese-based Jidoka lean supply chain.

Automotive paint booth USI Italia
USI Italia manufactures paint-spray booths and finishing systems for the automotive, aircraft and other industries, and its managers credit the Prima Power equipment lineup with boosting productivity and helping to control costs. “Our spray booths cost as much as 30 percent less than those of our competitors in Germany,” we were told, “and at the same time we can turn around orders in as little as four weeks, a 50- to 100-percent lead-time reduction compared to others in the industry.”
“Jidoka shifts the focus onto the suppliers,” he says, “in an effort to develop a lean supply chain. We spend six weeks training each of our suppliers in lean practices, and then have a system in place to share any profits that result from the training. So far we have trained 12 suppliers, all over the world.”

Also explained by Golinelli was a newer initiative at the facility, the 2017-2021 Dalmine Lighthouse Plant Roadmap, aimed at using Industry 4.0 technology to develop a smart factory. Roadmap goals include several ”smart” concepts such as Smart Workplace, Smart Material Handling, Smart Ergonomics and Smart Training.

“The roadmap,” Golinelli says, “rests on several digital waves, including the virtual factory, automatic and autonomous flow, collaborative robots, predictive maintenance, digital supply chain, and zero defects.”

The Third Fabrication Shop

…on our tour, USI Italia, again relies on a Prima Power Night Train (434 storage shelves) to manage material flow to a sheetmetal production line that features a Shear Brilliance combination punching-shearing machine (turret capacity of 80 to 100 tools), and an Express Bender. The lineup enables the shop to efficiently manage the production of some 3000 part numbers, of which about one-third run through the Shear Brilliance, and then about half of those parts land on the worktable of the Express Bender.

“A noteworthy advantage of the Express Bender,” explained USI Italia representatives, “is the ability to bend in the positive and negative direction without turning the sheet. The machine is fast and accurate, providing us with a competitive edge in the market.”

Four Course/Prima Power metal additive manufacturing
As part of the Prima Power Innovation Day, which welcomed more than 160 guests from 20 countries, the firm revealed its new Prima Additive brand, and introduced its Print Sharp 250 laser powder-bed 3D metal-printing machine.
The company manufactures paint-spray booths and finishing systems for the automotive, aircraft and other industries, and its managers credit the Prima Power equipment lineup with boosting productivity and helping to control costs. The plant processed 2000 tons of steel in 2018 (0.8-3.0-mm thick, galvanized and pre-painted), and has experienced steady annual growth of 5 percent since 2014, and approximately 15 percent in 2018.

“Our spray booths cost as much as 30 percent less than those of our competitors in Germany,” we were told, “and at the same time we can turn around orders in as little as four weeks, a 50- to 100-percent lead-time reduction compared to others in the industry.”

New Laser-Based Technology Part of Innovation Day

Finally, our Italian tour-de-force included a visit to the Prima Power headquarters and Technology Center in Collegno, for an Innovation Day, welcoming more than 160 guests from 20 countries. Highlighting the event was the introduction of a new brand for the company, Prima Additive, focusing on innovative additive-manufacturing turnkey solutions. And, company officials debuted new laser-based, application-driven technologies for the aerospace sector, particularly for welding.

Prima Additive, we learned, will focus on the design, production and marketing of turnkey solutions for metal powder-bed fusion and directed-energy metal deposition (DED) technologies. Company chairman Gianfranco Carbonato called additive manufacturing the “third leg of laser innovation,” as he discussed the firm’s DED solutions based on its Laserdyne multiaxis processing systems, built on a vertical machining-center platform. Then came the big reveal, as Prima Additive introduced its Print Sharp 250 laser powder-bed machine, with a 200- or 500-W fiber laser and 250 by 250 by 300-mm build volume. Among key technical specs: 0.1-mm layer width, 0.02-0.1-mm layer thickness, and a build rate from 12 to 30 cm3/hr., depending on material type and part geometry.

Developed in partnership with Chinese company Shining 3D, the Print Sharp 250 represents “a fascinating new manufacturing paradigm, and we are ready to help our customers seize these business opportunities,” says Carbonato. MF

 

See also: Prima Power North America, Inc.

Related Enterprise Zones: Fabrication


Reader Comments

There are no comments posted at this time.

 

Post a Comment

* Indicates field is required.

YOUR COMMENTS * (You may use html to format)

YOUR NAME *
EMAIL *
WEBSITE

 

 

Visit Our Sponsors