Automated die machining boosts manufacturing capacity

Published
February 01, 2019 - 07:00pm
Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AG

Contributed by Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AG

Today, the WMF Group, which was founded in 1853 as Metallwarenfabrik Straub & Schweizer and has been part of the French SEB Group since 2016, represents the best in cooking, drinking and dining. More than 2,200 employees at the Geislingen headquarters and the nearby Hayingen plant alone are engaged in the development and production of high-quality cookware and cooking knives.

Many of these products are still manufactured through the primary and secondary forming of sheet metal blanks. The WMF Group manufactures most of the required tools in-house at its own tool shop in Geislingen. “For about 30 different knife models alone, we use between 100 and 150 die tools, each consisting of an upper and a lower tool made of hardened hot-forming steel," explains Hans Brühl, Part Production and Tooling Technician at WMF. To guarantee consistent high product quality, the mould makers have to rework the tools after roughly 3,000 strokes. This involves precisely milling and removing approximately 0.5 mm of material, a process that is possible up to fifteen times with the dies. “In the past, we performed all these milling and finishing operations on an HSC milling machine. However, this machine could only accommodate two dies at a time, which then had to be processed successively and in several time-consuming setups. As knife production in Hayingen increased, more dies were obviously needed and this led to capacity shortages,” says Brühl when explaining the situation at the time.

Demands: Best surfaces in the shortest time

An evaluation process, which included a series of tests to assess contour accuracy, precision and surface quality and to determine whether the specification of significantly reducing machining time for refinishing had been accomplished, saw the 5-axis machining centre C 22 UP from Hermle come out on top. A machining process developed together with Hermle led to some extraordinary results: Not only was the desired reproducibility of contour accuracy and surface quality achieved, the machining time was also reduced considerably. Thanks to the equipment of the C 22 UP machining centre, featuring an 11-fold PW 150 pallet changer, it is now also possible to rework the dies automatically, in other words during the night and at weekends. This means additional capacity is now available for processing internal and external orders.

Proven: Twice as fast

The fact that the WMF Group’s tool and mould making division was able to achieve new levels of productivity is due, on the one hand, to standardisation of the dies. On the other hand, a self-developed pallet and workpiece clamping system with 4-fold bolting directly to the pallet and the automation provided by the PW 150 pallet changer have allowed machining to become significantly more efficient. Axel Spadinger, Head of Tool Engineering & Making at WMF Group GmbH, says in summary: “We were able to reduce the machining time by 50 percent and more when refinishing the dies. Since this work is generally carried out at night and over the weekend, we can therefore use the C 22 UP machining centre very flexibly during the day for all other machining operations. Combined with our know-how in tool and mould making, we are thus in a position to meet external customer needs on time.”

Related Glossary Terms

  • gang cutting ( milling)

    gang cutting ( milling)

    Machining with several cutters mounted on a single arbor, generally for simultaneous cutting.

  • milling

    milling

    Machining operation in which metal or other material is removed by applying power to a rotating cutter. In vertical milling, the cutting tool is mounted vertically on the spindle. In horizontal milling, the cutting tool is mounted horizontally, either directly on the spindle or on an arbor. Horizontal milling is further broken down into conventional milling, where the cutter rotates opposite the direction of feed, or “up” into the workpiece; and climb milling, where the cutter rotates in the direction of feed, or “down” into the workpiece. Milling operations include plane or surface milling, endmilling, facemilling, angle milling, form milling and profiling.

  • milling machine ( mill)

    milling machine ( mill)

    Runs endmills and arbor-mounted milling cutters. Features include a head with a spindle that drives the cutters; a column, knee and table that provide motion in the three Cartesian axes; and a base that supports the components and houses the cutting-fluid pump and reservoir. The work is mounted on the table and fed into the rotating cutter or endmill to accomplish the milling steps; vertical milling machines also feed endmills into the work by means of a spindle-mounted quill. Models range from small manual machines to big bed-type and duplex mills. All take one of three basic forms: vertical, horizontal or convertible horizontal/vertical. Vertical machines may be knee-type (the table is mounted on a knee that can be elevated) or bed-type (the table is securely supported and only moves horizontally). In general, horizontal machines are bigger and more powerful, while vertical machines are lighter but more versatile and easier to set up and operate.

  • sawing machine ( saw)

    sawing machine ( saw)

    Machine designed to use a serrated-tooth blade to cut metal or other material. Comes in a wide variety of styles but takes one of four basic forms: hacksaw (a simple, rugged machine that uses a reciprocating motion to part metal or other material); cold or circular saw (powers a circular blade that cuts structural materials); bandsaw (runs an endless band; the two basic types are cutoff and contour band machines, which cut intricate contours and shapes); and abrasive cutoff saw (similar in appearance to the cold saw, but uses an abrasive disc that rotates at high speeds rather than a blade with serrated teeth).

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