Gerlach Turns Powdered Metal Into Profit With Turning Cells
April 5, 2010—By using the new Eurotech-Famar Pronto 5 Turning Cells, as well as CNC lathes and various machining centers, Charles Gerlach, President of Gerlach Machine & Tool, located in St. Henry, Ohio, is turning powdered metal into profit. Gerlach does high-volume machining, plus bead blasting and honing of various powdered metal and cast aluminum parts. Their customers include major suppliers of automotive components such as timing sprockets, engine/drive line components and auto body parts. Gerlach frequently does the final machining on near net shape products for subsequent delivery to Tier One automotive vendors.
The purchase of two Eurotech-Famar Pronto 5 Turning Cells with a Siemens CNC control, drive and spindle package onboard each, was necessitated by the unique machining characteristics inherent in powdered metal work. "We're machining very high quantities of powdered metal automotive components, which causes excessive tool wear and therefore requires constant offset adjustments," Gerlach says. "The Eurotech-Famar representative trained us on the set-up, programming and the time-saving features for our particular operation."
"The machines had been put into action almost immediately after delivery, to meet current customer production schedules, so we'd had less time than expected to test run the cells. What we learned was that the Siemens control package allowed us to add separate sets of electronic pushbuttons at the operators' worktables, each wired into the machine, to make offset changes by the push of a button, rather than keying in the change on the control panel's offset page. Within the cutting program, each pushbutton controls a tool offset and is assigned a specific positive or negative numerical value," Gerlach says. "Then, each time a button is pushed by the operator while the machine is running the offset assigned to that particular button will change by the given numerical value. This basic capability saves time and simplifies tool adjusting, which in turn increases our productivity substantially."
Additionally, Gerlach cites other benefits of the machines, including the capability of assigning offsets a maximum value the control will accept per adjustment, thereby preventing machine "crashes" which occur when an offset value is changed to an incorrect large number. He also notes the programming as an added upside of the machine control package, which features the Siemens Sinumerik 840D CNC, Simodrive 611D and spindle as original equipment on the Eurotech-Famar Pronto 5 Turning Cells. Axis and spindle motion are all controlled by the Siemens CNC, with Gerlach storing all data/programs on the hard drive with floppy disk back-up.
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