Boosting productivity the Italian way

Dec. 1, 2002
Customers have spoken, and Italian machine tool builders are listening.

Customers have spoken, and Italian machine tool builders are listening.

LinX is an innovative line of high-speed milling centers from Jobs that are equipped with linear motors and interchangeable spindles.

The Vertiflex from Riello Sistemi SpA is a flexible machining cell combining the high productivity of a dedicated rotary-transfer machine with the high flexibility of a machining center.

Mandelli's Thunder series of machining centers provides high spindle speeds and torque to machine aluminum, steel, and cast iron with speed and accuracy.

Buffoli's Omni-Turn transfer machine handles complex parts requiring heavy turning, milling, angular or transversal drilling, broaching, and more in a single clamping — not sequentially as in traditional transfer machines.

Almost all shops, regardless of the continent where they are headquartered, focus on flexible, just-in-time manufacturing processes to stay lean and profitable in today's competitive, global economy. That mindset is reflected in the way machine tool builders design their new products and how they service their customers. Italian builders are no exception, and at this year's BI-MU Show held in Milan, exhibitors proved that they understand their role as a technical partner to the customer.

Seventeen pavilions showcased the latest manufacturing technologies from around the world at the show held October 3 through 11, 2002. Promoted by the Association of Italian Manufacturers of Machine Tools, Robots, Automation Systems, and ancillary products (UCIMU-SISTEMI PER PRODURRE), the exhibition brought together 2,200 companies, of which 1,000 were from outside of Italy, to display the latest equipment employed in machining, welding, assembly, and die/mold making.

Manufacturers exhibiting at BI-MU showcased modular machining systems that optimize operations in both cut and noncut times and highlighted programs that provide end users with remote diagnostics, service, and training.

One such company, Jobs SpA, Piacenza, Italy, which also has a subsidiary in Troy, Mich., created a strategic product-development plan to complete its range of linear-motor milling centers for high-speed, high-power machining.

"With approximately 650 5-axis machines installed worldwide, we have gained remarkable experience in our specific field," explains Sales Director Antonio Dordoni. "We now share our know-how with our customers more than in the past. We believe our experience can help customers reduce integration times and maximize the return on investment. Today, our goal is to increase the number of customized installations integrated in the workshop."

Now Jobs produces three models of its high-speed, high-power linear LinX milling centers — Blitz, Compact, and Design. The smallest model, LinX Blitz, is a 5-axis milling center specifically designed for high-speed machining of dies and molds as well as for parts in the aerospace and energy fields. Designed to maintain rigidity for extreme accuracy and high automation, the LinX Compact handles general machining of medium to large-size components. The LinX Design is an advanced 5-axis, high-speed milling center for extremely large parts with working volume starting at 50 m 3 .

Riello Sistemi SpA, Verona, Italy, which is represented in the U.S. by Riello Machine Tools USA Corp., Skokie, Ill., is also building its reputation in the metalcutting industry as a "problem solver" and as a customer-oriented firm. With more than 40 years of experience in building machinery, the company places a high priority on partnering with its customers to achieve production optimization.

"Innovation is no longer just an option — it is the only way to be successful in the machine tool market," expounds Riello's President Andrea Riello. The Vertiflex 450 is an example of designing production optimization into the machine tool. This flexible production cell features linear roller guides for the X, Y, and Z axes, 18-kW electro-spindles, and a 450-mm machining cube. In addition, the Vertiflex machines five sides in one chucking with up to 8 tools simultaneously removing metal to ensure high-quality finished parts. Loading and unloading of the station is performed internal to the cutting cycle. The operating software, developed by Riello, is interactive and guides the operator through the programming steps, set up, and trouble shooting. And on-line technical assistance, via modem, ensures immediate and complete support on all machine-operating details.

Now part of the Riello Group, Mandelli Sistemi SpA, with its headquarters in Piacenza, Italy, and represented in the U.S. by Mandelli USA Inc., Rockford, Ill., also supports continuous and simultaneous 5-axis machining systems with models such as the Thunder, Storm, and Rock.

According to the company, the Thunder has the power, along with high spindle speed and torque, to cut aluminum as well as steel and cast iron in a quick, efficient manner. The Thunder machining centers can be equipped with one or two-level mutipallet automation systems, which can be expanded by 5-pallet standard modules for the Thunder 500 and 630 and by 4 pallets for the Thunder 800.

Mandelli's Storm models are a range of machining centers for rough and finish machining on medium and large-size workpieces. The machines are designed with prismatic guides having a hybrid sliding system that consists of roller slides for low-friction load support and scrape-finished turcite surfaces for vibration damping. The machines are modular and integrate into flexible cells and production systems for nonsupervised machining.

Built for rough and finish machining of large workpieces weighing in excess of 26,000 lb, Mandelli's Rock machining centers manifest many of the same design principles found in the other machines. The cast iron continuous rotary table rotates on radial/axial roller bearings and has a turcite skew ring for vibration damping.

Keeping with the theme of flexibility and productivity, Buffoli Transfer SpA, Brescia, Italy, which is represented in the U.S. by TPS International Inc., Sussex, Wis., builds the Omni-Turn transfer machine. This patented mill-turn transfer machine handles heavy turning operations along with milling, angular or transversal drilling, threading, broaching, marking, and gaging. Designed for productivity while maintaining the versatility and quick-changeover capabilities necessary for batch processing, machining operations are processed in a single clamping, not sequentially as in traditional transfer machines. Several independent lathes permit parallel processing while being fed by an internal manipulator, keeping cycle times short. In the meantime, the transfer machine is used for previous or subsequent operations, allowing for the complete machining of particularly complex parts.