From toolmaker to system supplier Toward the future at high speed: fully automated milling and eroding

Source: Exeron

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Highest-level toolmaking, plastics technology and assembly from a single source — that’ s what Werkzeugbau und Kunststofftechnik Mayweg offers. The company has three locations, 250 employees and 33 million euros in sales, and a fully automated milling and electrical-discharge-machining cell from Exeron that helps meet even the highest customer requirements for precision, speed and economy.

This side view shows how the EDM 312 and HSC 600 eroding and milling machines are positioned at a 90° angle for optimal loading and unloading by the robot.
This side view shows how the EDM 312 and HSC 600 eroding and milling machines are positioned at a 90° angle for optimal loading and unloading by the robot.
(Source: Mayweg)

Mayweg has many years of positive experiences with machines from Exeron in terms of reliability, quality and after-sales support, and this also played a major role in recent successful collaboration. The toolmaker and system supplier already had an Exeron EDM 313 MF20, an exeron EDM 312 MF20 and an Exeron HSC 500 iTNC530 before they decided to implement a fully automated processing system with the goal of achieving higher productivity and increased value. The plan involved exchanging the existing EDM312 MF20 for an exeron EDM313 MF30 and an exeron HSC600/5 milling machine with a graphite-dust extraction system. An extra-large tool changer, with 90 positions to ensure the shortest possible set-up times, and a lubrication-medium distributor from MHT to ensure the most chip-free work possible adds to it.

The two new machines are now linked in-line by an Erowa ERD150L loading robot and a Zeiss Duramax Calypso measuring device. These units are networked and operate fully automatically.

The HSC600/5 milling machine is used to produce the graphite electrodes for the EDM313 MF30 EDM machine as well as workpieces for the Mayweg moulds. Although the two machines can be used independently, the integrated system operates as a unit, with the Erowa robot loading both machines, shifting milled electrodes to the EDM unit and unloading finished mould components, which are inspected by the Zeiss measuring device. A “zero-point clamping system” ensures that all workpieces are positioned with micro-precision via a zero-point clamping system.

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The configuration of all the individual components, and their integration into the overall system, were the sole responsibility of Exeron in Oberndorf, which ensured a smooth set-up process and immediate operational service.

With this fully automated system, Exeron met the goals set by Mayweg with pinpoint accuracy. Production orders for tools can now almost entirely be implemented internally. A significant increase in equipment availability has led to improved productivity. Personnel are no longer required for in-process checks, or reloading and restarting between the individual operations. The required materials are automatically fed to the system by the robotic system, so there are no delay or downtime here either. Manual releases between the processing steps are also eliminated. But Mayweg was not only pursuing quantitative goals. Significant quality improvements, in terms of part accuracy, were also among the goals that have been met with the Exeron system.

High-level automation brings benefits

With this investment, Mayweg has taken a big step towards automation. The introduction of the zero-point clamping system increases workflow flexibility and saves time in external set-up and work-priority changes. External pre-setting reduces non-productive time at the machining centres, and new workpieces and electrodes can be measured during production. Quality measurement ensures accuracy and allows work to be released without manual intervention. Digital chip identification on electrodes and platens avoids errors. A production-management system order priorities, workflow management, dimension handling and data management, and provides a status overview of the entire cell and its components. Intelligent process integration via the handling system ensures that the platens and electrodes are fed to all systems with pinpoint accuracy.

Successful cooperation

Thanks to the new, modern equipment, full air-conditioning and integrated quality measurement of the electrodes and workpieces, the machining quality and consistency were significantly improved. The new machining centre clearly optimized surface structures.

Employees have seen big changes: Today, their work mainly involves advance planning of the upcoming machining operations because the parts are produced almost independently on the new system. “The system has to be highly productive ... 24/7” was how Bernd Jannack, managing partner at Mayweg, formulated their original goal. And that is how it is now, he says. If any issues arise, Exeron’s service is there quickly and reliably, with response within a few hours. Many challenges can also be solved quickly, and without complications, by telephone or by remote maintenance. “If that is not enough”, says Christopher Seeboth, project manager for the cell project at Mayweg, “a technician can be on site within 24 to 48 hours. This is a big plus with Exeron.”

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A tradition of quality

Mayweg has always had a reputation for producing high-quality injection moulds. Their extensive knowledge and decades-long experience in the design and production of moulds is today just one of the core competences that help Mayweg to be successful in the field of plastics technology. Injection-moulding tools, plastic parts and many different assemblies are produced at Mayweg’s plant in Halver, which is certified according to IATF 16949, ISO 9001 as well as ISO14001. Since continued leadership requires that its capabilities must be cultivated and expanded, Mayweg ensures that the tool shop is always on the cutting edge of technology through extensive and permanent investments. CAD-supported tool design, in conjunction with state-of-the-art CNC milling, wire-cutting and die-sinking EDM machines, make Mayweg an extremely powerful partner in tool manufacturing.

Whether they work from a 3D digital model, a sample, a sketch or even just an idea, Mayweg can create aluminium prototype tooling and prototypes, all leading to production tools ready for series production and guaranteeing part series of 500,000 to 1.5 million shots. Customers benefit from Mayweg's comprehensive injection moulding know-how. The company's own injection-moulding shop can process all thermoplastics using all common processes (1K, 2K, 3K, high-gloss, hybrid components using the metal insert process, gas injection moulding or inmould decoration). Customers, often with well-known brand names, come from industry sectors such as electrical engineering, drives and controls, household appliances, automotive, locks and fittings, sanitary and heating construction or medical technology.

Long-standing, functioning partnership

The partnership between Mayweg and exeron has existed for 20 years. Originally, the company bought a used exeron machine and were immediately impressed by the excellent service during this first contact. Thus, the business relationship was continuously expanded and additional machines were purchased. “We had an excellent impression right away — and we have not been wrong in the long run,” says Christopher Seeboth about the cooperation. Regarding the automated HSC-EDM cell, he says: “What we appreciate about Exeron is their competent technical advice before the purchase, the customer-oriented after-sales service and the application technology, which provides us with comprehensive support for all questions and requests. The machines and the automation were very well coordinated. We are very satisfied with project planning, installation and operation.” Change requests in the area of sequence control were implemented quickly and unbureaucratically, so that the detailed conditions on site could be taken into account.

“The machines already worked very precisely in the standard version," continues Christopher Seeboth, “the last details and µ can be easily sorted out by our specialist staff.”

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