The move toward digital technologies is transforming metalworking machines and practices, leading to advances in quality and productivity.
The transition from traditional methods to the creation of hybrid systems that have been revitalized with electronic technologies is creating exciting new opportunities for Italian metalworking companies, proving that the possibilities for improving productivity, product quality, and creating better and safer jobs for workers are nearly limitless.
Two industry trade associations – AMAFOND, the Italian Association of Foundry Suppliers, and UCIMU-SISTEMI PER PRODURRE, the Italian Industry Association for Machine Tools, Robotics and Automation— have been active in helping the metalworking industry embrace Industry 4.0 standards and achieve more sustainable production processes.
Smart workholding creator SMW AUTOBLOK SpA was founded in Italy by two brothers in 1946. This family-owned machine tools company now has a global footprint, operating in more than 60 countries, and is a leader in using electronic technologies to transform metalworking practices.
SMW Autoblok provides a large, high-quality range of workholding solutions to a wide range of industries. The company combines stocked, standard products with a highly trained sales, service and engineering team to provide workholding solutions to customers.
Larry Robbins, president of the Commercial Division, points to the company’s work in developing electrically actuated products that enable the non-contact transfer of power without wires into base components. “Interconnectability between operations and information technologies has also made it possible to achieve significant advances in condition monitoring in real time, so that manufacturers can observe their processes in detail and act quickly when they need to troubleshoot and fix production problems,” he explains.
The same technologies also make it possible to achieve predictable machine set-ups and quicker changeovers to process different products. “This saves manufacturers time and money, increases production volumes and predictability, and allows operators to adjust tolerances in finite detail,” he adds.
“The ability of everything to communicate with everything else is rapidly transforming machines and manufacturing. It’s an exciting time for everyone involved in industry, and soon electronics will outweigh the mechanical components required for metalworking.”
Among the dozens of recent product innovations introduced by SMW Autoblok are a round magnetic chuck, MillTec, for 5-axis machining. Working on 5 axes allows for the use of shorter tools to increase feeds and cutting speeds. This technology makes it easier to carry out complex operations, including complete profiling, the undercut working, through holes and the creation of pockets.
The best machine performance is achieved when all five faces of the workpiece are accessible. The processing area is limited by brackets used in traditional locking systems, which often requires multiple setups. With MillTec the workpiece is clamped from the base, without any obstacles to the tool.
The company’s Mag Autoblok division includes a full line of permanent electromagnetic chucking systems for quick and flexible workholding on horizontal and vertical milling machines, vertical turning centers, FMS systems, grinding machines, EDMs and other equipment. A full line of magnetic lifters for loading and unloading workpieces is also available.
For more than 40 years, COSMAP Srl has been manufacturing automatic robotic cell and rotary table machines for polishing and buffing metallic pieces. A recent project achieved perfect surface finishing thanks to a balanced polishing and buffing process for stainless steel handles created for Corbin Russwin, Berlin, CT.
The machine created by Cosmap is a metalworking innovation that allows it to carry out the polishing and buffing process automatically. With the Cosmap Automatic Balancing Compensation System, the interaction between the tool and the workpiece can be defined automatically for even complex shapes.
Thanks to the interpolation of the axes, the CNC2 unit can do simultaneous axis movement sequences at high speed. It can perform a complex cycle with no interruption or manual adjustments. And with a custom self-learning system, setting up the entire working cycle for each unit is simple and fast. The operator does not need to learn any specific programming language: just select a sequence of pre-set commands in the programming tab of the unit. Machine positioning is extremely fast with the auto-positioning of the unit taking place after each time a new program is loaded.
DLS | DIE LUBRICATION SOLUTIONS is a story that starts back in 1974 when Gianpaolo Bertotti built his first lubricator. After years of experience in hot forging lubrication, Gianpaolo and his son Fabio founded a company in 2018 dedicated to the lubrication of molds, mixing of release agents and machinery retrofitting.
DLS provides a design and construction service for new, turnkey systems, or for the modernization of existing systems, specializing in the hot forging and metal blanking sector. Its LUBSYSTEM technology allows a uniform, homogeneous and nebulized distribution of the release agent on all parts of the mold. A touch screen panel makes it possible to manage every individual lubrication point. Each head is designed and engineered entirely by DLS.
The series has been specifically designed for dirty work environments such as stamping factories and forges. The machines are completely enclosed in metal panels that allow special covers to protect the moving metal parts from exposure to potentially harmful dust. It’s also possible to integrate the lubrication system with anthropomorphic robots.
DLS is involved in the sheet metal cutting and shearing sector with spraying heads for the lubrication of sheet metal strips and mold parts, along with customized lubrication systems for precision metal stamping processes. They are equipped with spraying heads that can be adjusted and managed completely independent of each other. DLS also works in the field of cold stamping and blanking of metal sheets that are equipped with MG spray guns. Their small size limits lubrication to the places where it is needed and in the right quantity.
NOVA SIDERA Metal Forming, is based in Castell’Alfero in the northern region of Piedmont and is a member of UCIMU-SISTEMI PER PRODURRE, the Italian Machine Tools, Robots, and Automation Manufacturers’ Association. It has specialized for the past 30 years in the production of spinning lathes and special machinery for metal sheet forming.
Managed today by the second generation of the Tasso family, Nova Sidera has focused on the internationalization and customization of its products, together with the aim of putting people at the center of its production. Nova Sidera’s international success started in the early 1990s and its growth in the North American market led to the opening of its US corporation in 2017, based in Miami, FL.
Nova Sidera’s teach and playback spinning lathes have been recognized globally for their reliability, customizations and after-sale service. The company has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Grotnes Inc., a Michigan-based company with more than a century’s experience in metal forming. This will allow them to closely cooperate on service, business development and joint projects for future machines.
In 2022 Nova Sidera installed its first model HERCULES 400 HT machine in the United States and received orders for 2 more that will be installed in 2023. The machine is characterized by a new heating system that is fully controlled by the CNC and helps keep parts at the right temperature during the different steps of the spinning process.
Until now, heat spinning has been performed using a hand torch independent of the machine, which has made this activity extremely dangerous, uncomfortable and created mixed results because it can’t precisely control the temperature of the part. This is crucial in a process like metal spinning, especially for a number of special alloys that have very specific ranges of temperature where it is possible to form the material.
A new version of the historic model Hercules 400, which already had hundreds of installations around the globe, has successfully installed the automated heating torch using propane and oxygen. Fully controlled by the machine’s numerical control system, it allows the operator to set all parameters, including the ones related to the temperature desired for the part, during all phases of the spinning process.
This technology will also help Nova Sidera train a new generation of professionals to tackle the ever more demanding requirements in precision and quality from disparate industrial sectors, both in the USA and internationally.
PRIMAFOND Srl, one of the leading Italian companies in the production of machines for foundry sand core production, continuously searches for simple and functional solutions for the forming of cores. Today it offers its core shooting machines and the necessary equipment for core forming with an inorganic process. Foundries and core-makers who are considering the use of the inorganic process are invited to consult with the company. Primafond is represented in the American market by EMI Inc.
The choice of the right type of binding system and refractory material for core forming in the production of metal castings such as aluminum, cast iron, and steel is crucial to achieving a high-quality end-product. Silica sand is a common material for core production as it has good temperature resistance, thermal stability and a smooth surface. It is also important to choose a core with good dimensional stability at high temperatures and erosion resistance.
The choice of core depends on specific project requirements such as the need for mechanical strength or heat dissipation, and the ability to withstand thermal and current loads. In general, the choice of core is based on desired properties and the trade-off between weight, strength, thermal conductivity, and electrical conductivity.
Foundries are constantly attentive to design requirements and strict environmental and safety standards. In producing foundry cores, the greatest difficulties are represented by the combustion and thermal cracking of binders during casting, resulting in the loss of mechanical properties and the formation of gas, potential sources of porosity and cavities within the casting. Hazardous substance emissions, fumes and odors are produced in both the casting phase and the forming process.
Despite improvements in the overall process, attention is shifting towards the use of alternative binders, particularly inorganic binders. They use only water as a solvent, and their binding matrix is made up of a mixture of silicates, phosphates and borates in varying percentages.
Inorganic cores are widely used in foundries for the automotive industry because no combustion products are created during forming and casting (fumes, BTX, BTEX, amines, odors). Currently, in terms of total volumes, inorganic binders constitute a relatively low share of the binders used globally, but their use in foundries has been increasing in recent years.
SAPORITI Srl has been an Italian manufacturer and world leader in making ball valve grinding machines since 1946. The demand is rising for next generation ball valves with higher requirements that can be worked precisely in severe conditions such as high pressures, extreme temperatures, high abrasives or dangerous fluids.
These machines require more hard material seats (metal to metal valve types) and very hard coating on the ball surface. Valve manufacturers also need machines suitable for obtaining high precision in roundness and roughness.
SAPORITI’s experience helps customers find the best tool solutions for the coating material. Normally these coatings are carbide or a nickel – boron coating. This coating is particularly difficult to work on because the material doesn’t have a uniform texture and it is also powder welded on the rough metal ball and heated in a furnace. This makes its behavior strongly dependent on ball dimensions.
The SAPORITI PV grinding machines come in different sizes to cover a range of balls from
1” up to 98” OD (2500 mm). The models for balls up to 29.5” (750 mm) OD can be placed on good industrial floors with anti-vibration support included in the machine. All models save energy and generate less noise.
The development of hybrid metalworking solutions that combine the best of electronic and mechanical technologies is advancing rapidly. The industry in Italy has introduced a wide range of these new products over the past decade that have improved quality and manufacturing productivity, as well as modifications that have made it easier for North Americans to do their jobs.
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