Shop stays competitive with CMM technology

May 1, 2004
Using a Contura CMM with a Vastxt probehead and Calypso software, all from Zeiss, Evden operators inspect multifaceted parts, perform roundness checks, and measure part features smaller than 2-mm in diameter.

Using a Contura CMM with a Vastxt probehead and Calypso software, all from Zeiss, Evden operators inspect multifaceted parts, perform roundness checks, and measure part features smaller than 2-mm in diameter.

Tolerances constantly get tighter and parts more complex at Evden Enterprises in Ukiah, Calif. So the manufacturer of custom components always expands its capabilities with the right technology and equipment to meet such demands and remain competitive.

The shop's latest technological acquisition is a Contura activescanning CMM with Vastxt probehead. The system, from Carl Zeiss IMT, replaces Evden's existing Zeiss touch-trigger-probe Eclipse CMM and lets the shop measure extremely small hole diameters it couldn't with the Eclipse.

"With the Contura CMM and Vastxt probehead operating on Zeiss' Calypso software, we inspect multifaceted parts, perform roundness checks, and measure part features smaller than 2-mm in diameter," says Stephen McGrath, vice president of manufacturing at Evden. "Measuring complete parts is no longer a problem," he adds. "Prior to the new system, we measured only key part features, leaving the rest to be checked using cumbersome manual processes."

Evden conducts in-process inspections to check each part operation. It does no final inspection before the part leaves, but instead relies on the accuracy of individual part operations. For example, to meet target true position tolerances to 0.05 mm on some parts, the Vastxt probehead collects thousands of data points to deliver fast, accurate, and reliable measurements.

In addition, Zeiss' Calypso CAD-based software lets Evden operators quickly take complex measurements to reduce programming time by 50%. After attending a Calypso training class, McGrath easily trained his lead men, who, in turn, trained other operators. This saved travel costs, and operators didn't miss a lot of work."The software is quite intuitive," comments McGrath. "You don't need operators with PhDs to get the most out of it."

Carl Zeiss IMT Corp.
Maple Grove, Minn.

VMCs complement shop's know-how

Viper Technologies relies on Mazak machining centers in its manufacturing of automotive-interior components, full-interior mockups, and finished prototype wheels.

At Viper Technologies Inc. in Torrance, Calif., a high-volume production run is 8 or 10 parts. However, depending on the combination, those 10 parts may require up to 400 hr to produce. To make matters worse, in spite of the long cycle times for achieving necessary precision surface finishes, the shop often faces nightmarish deadlines. "We simply don't have any room for mistakes," says Paul Relf, one of Viper's two co-founders. To avoid mistakes, the shop relies on personal know-how and Mazak machining centers, the latest being a Nexus 410A VMC.

The company manufactures finished prototype wheels, interior components, and full interior mockups for major automakers. In addition, it does models and mockups for several non-automotive manufacturers, including numerous telephone components makers. Customers typically use the surface data from Viper's parts to produce electrodes for burning molds. "If our parts are wrong, so too are the electrodes and the molds," says Relf.

The shop dry machines smaller parts on the Nexus, but because of fine details and required finishes, cycle times run 5 or 6 hr with up to six toolchanges. As standard, the Nexus sports a 30-tool changer, which easily accommodates Viper's tooling that ranges in size from 0.010 to 1.000 in. in diameter. "A lot of work involves fine details," explains Relf. "We cut a feature, then have to later add another one to overlap the first. So there can be no degradation in precision over time, whether because of a rigidity problem or thermal change."

According to Andy Smith, Relf's partner and company co-founder, one advantage of the Nexus and the shop's other Mazaks is that they handle changes in ambient and internal machine temperatures. Built-in sensors continuously monitor internal and external temperatures and compensate for changes, so there is no compromise in precision.

Another useful Nexus feature is that the machine detects changes in the toolpath and automatically compensates for them. "A lot of our parts have distinct features," says Relf. "There may be a smooth surface followed by a sharp wall or point." To maintain surface integrity and part details, the Nexus speeds along flat surfaces and automatically slows down at walls, points, or other details.

"Prior to the Nexus, we would have had to program all those speeds and feeds ourselves," says Relf. "With this feature, we not only save programming time but also shorten cycle times as much as 20% for some parts."

Mazak Corp.
Florence, Ky.

Fluid brings shop more than cost savings

Cimcool 3890 coolant extends tool life, enhances surface finishes, and provides a cleaner work environment in Dukane's toolmachining operation for ultrasonic welding.

Dukane Corp. decided to reduce costs across the board, and one of its focuses was on the cutting fluid used in the company's 25 machine tools. So the shop, which specializes in machining precision tooling used in ultrasonic welding of plastic, switched to Cimcool's Cimstar 3890 cutting fluid. Initially, it did so based solely on price, but later realized some additional unanticipated benefits of the new fluid.

For starters, the shop needs less Cimstar 3890 — because of its lower concentration — as compared with its previous fluid. And the new fluid stays cleaner longer, so it doesn't need changed as often. "We had to change the old product at least every six months," notes Carl Ollerer, operations manager in Dukane's ultrasonic and plastic-welding-systems division. "The Cimstar 3890 has been running for nearly a year now, and we have yet to change it because it's still clean."

Other benefits Ollerer cites include improved part surfaces, longer tool life, and better product quality. "Also," he adds, "the other product clouded up a lot and had a very offensive odor. Many of our operators complained about that, and some of them had developed skin rashes by contact with the other fluid. All that changed with the Cimstar 3890."

Dukane's metalworking fluid plays an important role in part quality. Its customers are extremely demanding because a tooling failure shuts down an entire product assembly line.

Tooling is made from titanium, some aluminum (which the shop considers a dirty material to machine), stainless steel, and some CPM (a dense composite material similar to D2 steel). Annual volumes are 10,000 tool sets/yr, and almost 100% of these are custom work. Tooling weighs from 5 to 6 lb and measures 6 11/2 8 in., but this varies depending on the application. Tolerances range from 0.005 to 0.0001 in.

According to Ollerer, another upside to switching fluids is Cimcool's service and technical assistance. "When we decided to make the switch," he says, "Cimcool provided us with a free sample, and its people were here every week for the first six months, just to ensure that everything was running smoothly and to answer questions. And to this day, Cimcool continues to check how we are doing."

Dukane currently uses Cimstar 3890 in two of its busiest machines — Mori Seiki and Tree CNC machining centers. As soon as its stock of the other fluid is used, the shop is switching all its machines to Cimstar 3890.


System feeds shop's improved production

A Rowe system straightens the full thickness range of an automotive supplier's coiled-steel stock without the use of a secondary straightener for lighter gage materials.

A tier-one automotive supplier needed a system to process steel it used for a variety of parts. The coiled steel was 84-in. wide, ranging in thickness from 0.020 to 0.156 in. with a weight capacity of 50,000 lb. The shop had to straighten the full thickness range without having to use a secondary straightener for lighter-gage materials. Rowe, a Formtek Group company, met the supplier's needs.

The Rowe system includes an 84-in. heavy-gage press feed with a stock reel and coil car, a heavy-duty fully backed-up straightener, and a high-performance fully backed-up 4-roll servo feeder. An automated control system lets the automotive supplier set up the system in seconds based on preprogrammed jobs or part numbers. The control's memory stores a job's feed progression, feed speed, passline height, straightener-head settings, and material width for stock-guide settings.

The stock reel, model 50084-HDSJ, is a 50,000-lb single-coilcapacity unit set up for pull-off operation with an ultrasonicmonitored, automatic variablebrake-tension control. Specifically for the customer's 0.020-in.-thick material, the unit provides a smooth payoff of material under constant tension at any coil diameter. A jog drive allows for line thread-up and re-banding of coils.

A model C6-4-84 straightener with 4-in.-diameter backed-up rolls on tight center distances lets the Rowe customer straighten its range of stock thicknesses up to their full widths. The straightener includes a peeler/threader/debender system for easy threading of heavier-gage material. Its straightener-head-adjust feature automatically adjusts straightener-head roll-depth settings based on user-supplied coil and material data. An ultrasonic sensor monitors the coil O.D. as it runs.

Feeding with four rolls, the Rowe system's AC servo feeder delivers twice the normal material-surface-area contact to reduce necessary roll pressure without causing slippage. The four rolls sport a matte-chrome finish that grips without damaging material finish.

The system's feed control lets the automotive supplier operate in a special camming mode. A resolver, mounted on the press, sends press-speed information to the feed control, which electronically gears or synchronizes servofeed speed to match the press speed. This reduces set-up time for parts when using a large parttransfer mechanism incorporated into the press.

Formtek Group
Itasca, Ill.

Sensors provide a feel for rough terrain

Sick's Laser Measurement System sensors detect changing terrain and obstacles for autonomous ground vehicles.

The Darpa Grand Challenge, sponsored by the Department of Defense, is a competition intended to test state-of-the-art autonomous vehicle technology. Teams race their unmanned vehicles over a rugged course between Barstow, Calif., and Primm, Nev., using navigation systems to sense the terrain and obstacles. For several teams, a key component in their navigation systems were Laser Measurement System (LMS) sensors from Sick, a company specializing in factory-automation solutions.

"The LMS units played a major role in our terrain-sensing capabilities," comments Chris Pederson, A.I. Motorvators team leader. "They pack the performance and durability needed for autonomous ground vehicles."

Another team leader, Ivar Schoenmeyr of CyberRyder team, says, "The Sick LMS sensors are paramount in our ability to generate a simplified 3D image of the immediate terrain in front of the vehicle."

Sick's non-contact LMS sensors deliver accurate distance measurement and collision control throughout a scanning field up to 180°. They are also well suited for monitoring open spaces for building security, object classification, determining the volume of objects, and collision prevention for vehicles and cranes.

Sick Inc.