AZ FIUS 'conquers the nights' with WorkPal robots
Imagine that you have just received an order where machining of the component requires special tools. Tools that are completely absent from the ranges of your usual suppliers. Do you try to make the necessary tools yourself? Or, just like an increasing number of others, do you turn to a specialist such as AZ FIUS?
Wire EDM will put the finishing touches to these ’special tool blanks’
Ever since the 1970’s, AZ FIUS s.p.a. has been a leader in the making of customer-specific special tools – originally in high-speed steel, then cemented carbide and now also in polycrystalline diamond (PCD). The company, leads by Ivano Colombo (2nd generation of Colombo family), is high-tech oriented.
Actually has around 50 employees who, from 2005, have been enjoying airy new premises in Terno d’Isola, just outside Bergamo.
Giovanni Opreni, production manager – “Delivery times, order stocks and organisation are becoming ever shorter and more streamlined in the manufacturing industry. These factors have led to companies not having the resources to develop and make their own special tools. AZ FIUS has these resources and extensive experience in this field. We also deliver quickly. A few weeks if we have to begin from scratch. Within 24 hours if it’s a new set of previously manufactured tools.”
Giovanni Opreni: “We have the resources and deliver quickly”
Thanks to these factors AZ Fius gained a good reputation in the market, where the knowledge of Giorgio Guandalini is a very good support.
Approximately half the company’s orders come in the form of drawings of the desired tool. The rest will either be drawings of the component to be produced or, in extreme cases, the instruction: “Here is a prototype of the finished component. I have these machines at my disposal. Give me all the tools I need for the rational production of the component.”
AZ FIUS manufactures and supplies complete tools, i.e. not just the cutter itself, but also the holder (e.g. an HSK cone). The manufacture of a complete diamond-edged cutting tool begins with a semi-finished PCD disc. Blanks are cut from this and fixed to the milling or lathe cutting head for which they are to provide the cutting edges. After that, a wire EDM machine gives the assembled cutting tool its final shape (chip breakers, etc. included therein). Thus, pure production wire EDM in very short series.
Giovanni Opreni continues. “Final machining of cutting tools now takes an average of 40 minutes. Our old method involved fitting up to 6 cutting heads in a special beam-shaped jig. However, in 2003, we installed our first WorkPal to serve a B-axis equipped Sodick AQ325. We got another WorkPal the year after that and will be installing a third and fourth this year. These will also be serving Sodick machines. Three of the four have a B axis.”
One of the automatic production cells – WorkPal Compact and Sodick AQ325 conquering the night
In the wire EDM section, two operators man seven machines. The weekly two-shift system gives around 12 hours of effective machining per day. On top of that, there are 7 – 8 night-time hours. Attended by an “on call operator” who, at the weekends, fills and empties the magazines, the robot cells produce seven days a week.
“We say that the wire EDM machines have conquered the nights. This has had a great positive impact on productivity. A second plus is that we now have considerably less downtime than we did when we fitted several work pieces to a jig and the wire had to move between them. A third is that we now use machines with smaller machine tables. This completely alters pricing,” concludes Giovanni Opreni.
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Layout drawing:WorkPal Compact Servo & Sodick AQ325L
Related links:WorkPal Compact ServoAutomation in general