Machines and Pallets Put the Lights Out in Production

Machines and Pallets Put the Lights Out in Production

Hoppe Tool machines
Hoppe Tool machines its complex parts on 5-axis machines integrated into a 24-pallet system.

An incoming job involving large volumes of parts requiring a lot of five-axis work was the driving force behind Hoppe Tool Inc.’s () decision to add a palletized system that included a 5-axis machine tool. But instead of doing so, it purchased just two 5-axis machines and integrated them into the shop’s existing 24-pallet workhandling system.

The machines, both DMU 60s from DMG, run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also make the shop a lot more versatile then having only one machine.

“With a pallet system, we can setup multiple jobs and run all the similar ones at the same time, or pick and choose which part to run depending on the customer’s needs. Also, we can run lights-out during the night and on weekends,” said Joe Reale, CNC mill supervisor at Hoppe Tool.

Hoppe Tool takes on some of the tough jobs that many shops can’t handle. It also works with a multitude of exotic materials such as stainless steel, titanium, Hastoloy and others. Parts range in size from those that fit in a human hand to those measuring 24 in. in diameter for turning work. Part volumes run anywhere from 1,000 pieces to 10,000 pieces per month or from 200 to 400 parts per week.

The largest milled part the shop can handle on the DMUs would measure 22 in. by 24 in., with a Z-axis height of 25 in. and a weight of 600 lb. And depending on required operations, part machining time for the shops various parts can range from a half hour to as much as six hours.

Reale pointed out that the DMG machines are quite easy to program thanks to the use of Heidenhain controls that have kinematic programming called G7. He said that no matter where they are on the machine’s table, G7 always follows the zero point around.

“We have three people using Mastercam to program our turning and machining centers. Even though these parts can be programmed at the machine, because of their complex cutting paths and often long cutting times, we do much of the programming offline,” Reale said.

When it comes to machining tough materials, Reale mentioned that it is not the DMG equipment that has any problems machining it, but it’s more an issue of determining the proper feeds and speeds for the particular material and making sure the programming is correct more than anything else.

Hoppe Tool uses flood coolant, along with high-pressure throughthe- tool cooling on its DMUs. Each machine accommodates 180 tools that allow the shop to produce multiple jobs without changing out tooling. The company’s programmers work around the tools in each machine so that they are not adding or removing tools for each job, which saves time.

Once Hoppe Tool completes some of its Internet connections, it will use DMG’s Messenger, an integrated online monitor that informs the operator about the productivity of a machine during downtimes, changes in status or just for inspection. It notifies an operator or designated person about all actions directly from the controls or by email or text message. All events are registered in a logbook, and the Messenger informs about the current status of production anywhere and at any time.

The biggest advantage of 5-axis machining for shops such as Hoppe Tool is that it allows parts to be machined in single setups for holding extremely tight tolerances. If certain parts are machined on a 3-axis machine, removed and machined again in another setup and machining center, problems of stacked tolerances can occur, along with errors associated with workholding setups. Five-axis machines eliminate these problems, and while sometimes part machining cycles might be the same with a 5-axis machine, the overall part production cycle is typically shorter since operators don’t have to move parts from one setup to another.

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