German tool maker Formenbau Kellermann GmbH reduced lead times by more than 20% after investing in VISI software and installing a palletized production process with a zero-point clamping system.
The machines can automatically convert 3-axis to 5-axis continuous tool paths.
The company is a supplier to the automotive industry providing complex single- and multiple-component tools for high-quality plastic parts such as intake manifolds, oil modules, air filter housings, and cylinder head covers.
The milling and electrical discharge machining (EDM) departments are equipped with two HPM1350 U and HPM 1850 U 5-axis milling centers from Mikron/AgieCharmilles and one 5-axis Huron EX machine. In addition, there is a Mikron HSM 700 milling machine for electrode production, an AGIE 100 wire EDM machine, three vertical eroding machines (Exeron, Hansen), and numerous manually operated machines for additional milling, drilling, and grinding operations.
Mercedes-Benz 220 CDI model
The Formenbau Kellermann plant specializes in process automation. Components such as pressure plates or guides are uniform in all tools. In the case of die centering, only two to three different sizes are used. In addition, there is an in-house company standard for design, as well as a standard component catalogue.
Engineers and shop floor personnel use VISI software from Vero. Prior to migrating to VISI in 2003, the company used ICEM DDN. In 2004, the NC department was equipped with VISI Machining where the CAM tasks were shared with PowerMILL from Delcam. However, in 2009 the company implemented VISI for all machining activities.
The introduction of ‘Compass Technology’ for feature recognition helps Kellermann automatically generate 2- and 2½-axis CNC programs for common geometries such as holes or milling grooves. This process can facilitate reduced programming time and eliminate potential positioning errors. Three steps are necessary for CNC plate programming:
• Start the feature recognition
• Run the company-specific Compass-based rules
• Verify the completed CAM programs
The set-up and customization of the Compass rules was performed by German VISI distributor MECADAT GmbH, where on-site assistance was provided to analyze the existing CAM strategies and transfer this knowledge to the rules database.
The NC programs are often generated in 3 axes and converted to a 5-axis simultaneous program with VISI for use on the 5-axis Mikron HPM 1350U CNC machine.
Kellermann engineers can automatically convert 3-axis to 5-axis continuous tool paths. This helps them reduce programming time while benefiting from 5-axis machining. For example, the Mikron HOM 1350U allows for an approach angle from +16° to -120°, whereby the distance between spindle and table is only 30 mm.
The company reports that automated and standard processes also require the efficient supply of information. The possibility of sharing the tool library from VISI was an important milestone. All tooling databases are available to all users across the network and contain information typically seen in expensive tool-management systems such as tool-holders, extensions, collets, cutting tools, including assemblies and their individual cutting conditions.
The 5-axis Mikron machining centers are equipped with a palette system that includes three round tables that can each be loaded with one ton and intelligent zero-point clamping systems, which ensure use of the CNC machinery. Regarding the benefits of a palletized and zero-point clamping system, a running process can be interrupted at any time, without losing the zero-point. This can be particularly useful in case of urgent repairs, or when spotting surfaces must be quickly re-milled.
The benefits of the improved process chain, software automation, and advanced CNC machinery can all be verified in a recent project for the air filter housing (inlet and outlet on the same side) for the new generation of diesel motors from Daimler for the Mercedes E-Class Cabrio.