Smartline SA-S combines excellent precision and highest stroke rates

An Asian manufacturer has placed an order with Schuler for a press to produce beverage can lids. The Smartline SA-S can produce over 3,000 such lids per minute. The Smartline not only forms the can’s stay-on tab but also attaches it to the lid and forms the depressed panel with opening score.

opt cans press

This process is made possible by a special die supplied by the Japanese company Showa Machine-tool Co. Ltd. which combines the two steps. In addition to the pre-formed lid blanks, a metal strip is fed into the die to form the tabs. Four lids are produced simultaneously with every stroke. Schuler collaborated closely with Showa on the development of the overall system.

Sustainable production with few rejects and the best possible cost-benefit ratio

For an energy-efficient production of beverage can lids with few rejects, the Smartline SA-S provides a controlled AC drive with energy recovery as well as a temperature control of the body, an extremely fast switching clutch and brake as well as a depth penetration control. The Quick Lift feature allows the user to resolve outages as quickly as possible.

"Our client wanted to increase the production volume while reducing the number of rejects, and all of this at the best cost-benefit ratio," says Schuler Managing Director Johannes Linden. "All of the packaging manufacturers place great value on a resource-saving production. The Smart Line SA-S combines sustainability, better quality with maximum production quantity with a best possible cost-benefit ratio. "

The Smartline SA-S has so far been used for the punch-bundling of electric motor laminations – a similarly complex technical process. With a press force of 1,250 kilonewtons and a maximum speed of 850 strokes per minute, the machine will begin producing beverage can lids at the Asian manufacturer’s facility in early 2015.

Schuler will present systems manufacturing metal packaging for the aerosol, beverage and food industry at the trade show Metpack in Essen from May 6 to 10, 2014 (hall 3.0, stand C26).

Published inSheet Metal

SigmaTEK Systems LLC, the world’s leading authority on CAD/CAM nesting and manufacturing process automation, announces the promotions of Mike Galetti and Bill Huffman. The two long-time industry veterans will work together to grow and manage the company’s global corporate accounts program.

MikeG 10x10cm 72dpiMr. Galetti has been promoted to Sr. Director of Global Corporate Sales.  Mike will work with large manufacturing companies to identify areas for fabrication efficiency improvement and recommend / implement solutions. Galetti, with twenty-five years of manufacturing industry experience, will continue in his Sales Manager position serving the central region of the United States.

Huffman 10x10cm 72dpiMr. Huffman has been promoted to Director of Corporate Accounts. Bill will further expand his duties in negotiating and managing contracts with current and new clients.  Bill has been focused on serving the company’s growing list of customers since joining SigmaTEK in 1997.  In 2003 Huffman began organizing and implementing programs designed to assist the special challenges and enhancement opportunities facing larger manufacturers. That program has evolved into what has today become the SigmaTEK Global Accounts Group.

SigmaTEK President & CEO, Ben TerreBlanche comments:

“Both Bill and Mike have achieved the expertise and credibility that comes only with years of results-driven industry experience. Together they will bring to bear the global resources and proven technologies of SigmaTEK to assist large, multi-national corporations in pursuit of increased productivity efficiency and lowering costs. We congratulate them and reaffirm our confidence that individually and collectively the two will play an even greater role in growing our global client base while further solidifying our leadership position.”

Published inSheet Metal

JETCAM International s.a.r.l. and Bricsys nv has announced a technical and commercial partnership that will mutually benefit their respective customer bases.

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Bricsys recently announced V14 of the successful BricsCAD software platform at their International Conference in Darmstadt, and now supports sheet metal unfolding in the BricsCAD Platinum edition. Development has already commenced on one-click ‘Export to JETCAM’, providing the JETCAM Expert nesting system with all the information required to automatically tool and nest the component.

BricsCAD V14 - sheet metal

This integration will provide joint customers with a simple, fast and automated method of passing information between systems, and with JETCAM’s automation it can take the user right through to NC code generation in a matter of seconds.

With V14 of BricsCAD, Bricsys continues to deliver on its promise to unify 2D CAD and 3D direct modeling for dwg. In addition to standard dwg CAD functionality, the platform now also provides users with 3D direct modeling, 2D and 3D constraints, design intent recognition, assembly modeling and kinematic analysis, and since V14 now also with sheet metal capabilities.

JETCAM Expert provides either full interactivity or automation of any stage of the tooling and nesting process. With support for virtually every CNC punching and profiling machine available today, the award-winning software offers high performance nesting options and tight integration into legacy data systems such as MRP.

Said Martin Bailey, General Manager of JETCAM International, “We attended the recent Bricsys International Conference and were extremely impressed with their latest release. This integration will provide joint customers with a simple, fast and automated method of passing information between systems, and with JETCAM’s automation it can take the user right through to NC code generation in a matter of seconds.”

”We look forward to partner with JETCAM to provide our customers with an integrated solution to their CAM requirements,” said Erik De Keyser, Bricsys CEO. “Working in partnership with a market leader such as JETCAM International will help our customers automate the process of CNC code generation from BricsCAD drawing files.”

Published inSheet Metal

Superman was only a man of steel. Hank Bomar and Greg Pollack of Helena had all the metals covered.

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For decades the dynamic duo used old-fashioned techniques to reshape sheet metal into functional pieces of equipment. Copper, steel, tin — you name it and they could make something out of it.

Need a chimney cap? They had you covered.

In the market for a time capsule? Just give them a couple of hours.

What about a mock SA-6 Russian missile? Why yes, they created three of those.

But time passes, and so did Greg Pollack, last April. His death left a vacant spot in the hearts of Bomar, as well as Pollack’s sister, E. Betty Pollack, who in recent months decided they no longer could keep Helena Sheet Metal Works open.

The business originated in 1885 and operated through 1910 as Rummel’s Tin Shop, Betty Pollack said. Several different owners ran the shop — which had been renamed as Helena Sheet Metal Works and relocated eventually onto Main Street next to Capital Tire — until Betty and Greg’s dad, Barney Pollack, became the sole proprietor in 1945.

Helena Sheet Metal Works specialized in fixing and selling Rudy furnaces and other heaters, sheet metal molding, roofing and cooling systems. But if anyone needed a custom-made item — like copper pots for the Parrot confectionary — they did that, too.

Greg Pollack started working at the Main Street shop when he was 10 years old, sweeping the floors and doing other odd jobs to earn an allowance. He took over the reins in 1964 and hired Bomar in 1969.

Betty Pollack notes that, together, they kept families warm in winter and cool in summer in communities from Lincoln to Boulder and Avon to White Sulphur Springs, as well as all points in between.

“Now, I’m packing up stuff,” she said with a hint of sadness in her voice. “Customers always knew they could call day or night, holiday or weekend, and we would be there to solve their problems. Our motto was that customers were friends first and business second.”

Bomar adds that with the proliferation of the big box stores, which sell many pre-bent sheet metal products, there’s not as much of a need for a small sheet metal company.

“The art of this is kind of fading,” he said.

Today, when stepping onto the checked linoleum inside the shop’s front door, the scent of fuel oil still lingers in the air, a reminder of its years fixing oil furnaces.

A collection of thermostats hangs on the south wall of the office above a desk, near the homemade metal filing cabinet.

“Those thermostats are ones I changed out over the years; I never threw them out, but put them in a box. It got so full I couldn’t move it, so I decided one day to hang them on a wall,” Bomar said.

“And call it ‘souvenirs,’” Betty Pollack added, smiling.

The clocks still work on most of them. The oldest thermostat, in the upper left corner, is draped with chains that ran down through holes on the floor to the damper of a coal furnace. Heat was controlled by pulling on the chain.

On the adjacent wall, historic furnace emblems hang next to the door into the shop, showing the wide variety that they’ve replaced.

It’s clear that inside the shop is where Bomar is most comfortable. The top of a workbench on the southern wall is cluttered with pliers, metal snips and other tools, and a variety of shiny, flat metal sheets are filed below. Two steel tapes hang off the wall, as do dozens of patterns, especially circles of various diameters with a pie slice taken out.

He picks up an “S-lock” and deftly demonstrates how it holds together two pieces of metal. Over near two odd-shaped anvils, he shows how easily the metal bends. He laughs when asked how often he cuts himself on the sharp edges.

“Over the years, I’ve noticed that sometimes I cut myself two or three times a day for a week or so, then I go three months without a cut,” Bomar said. “It’s amazing the things you can build.”

In the middle of the room sits a 10-foot long machine for bending metal, and nearby is a pipe threader, used often when installing furnaces. Above the florescent lights, long ladders hang from the rafters, used back in the days they installed tar roofs and metal gutters. Small empty tanks that capture Freon from refrigerators litter the floors and black blower belts in a wide range of sizes are suspended on the north wall.

Stairs lead to a second-story storage area, where the exterior balcony wall has two calendars posted on it from 1988. The posters feature a young woman hawking Makita tools while clad in short shorts on one and a swimsuit in the other.

“She was at Power Townsend,” Bomar recalls. “We went down there and talked to her, and I got a hug from her and Greg got a hug from her. So naturally, we had to buy some new equipment.”

Betty Pollack, who is wrapping up her brother’s estate, said they don’t want to sell the name because after 128 years in business, Helena Sheet Metal Works has a good reputation that she doesn’t want tarnished.

“Plus, the family has had it for so long, we feel kind of selfish about it; we don’t want anyone else to use the name,” she said. “I’m very sad to see it go, but the time has come.”

She’s contacted some of their competitors to see if they’re interested in buying the machines and remaining inventory. Other items are being stored or put up for sale.

Bomar looks around the shop when asked what his future holds. He’s worked here for 45 years and never thought about the next chapter.

“Maybe I’ll get a part-time job in a warehouse; there’s a distributor opening up in Billings,” Bomar said, gently shaking his head. “But I don’t have any plans really. This” — he looks around at the tools being packed up — “This is still brand new.”

Published inSheet Metal

Xingli is a company which specialises in the manufacture as well as export of metal machinery and metalforming machinery. The company has been doing business for over two decades now.

pressbrake sheet metal imtWhen it comes to industrial equipment and other essential materials which are required for more accurate machines and stability, it is only the trusted manufacturers who should be relied upon. With the vastness of the manufacturing industry across the world and the different manufacturing processes followed in different corners of the world, the materials and machineries differ from one place to the other. Xingli is a company which has been around for 2 decades now and have been consistently catering to the industrial requirements.

The company indulges in the manufacture of metal machinery and metalforming machinery. It caters to both the local as well as the international markets. Some of the major regions where the products of the company are exported to include North America, Eastern Europe, South America, Southeast Asia, Eastern Asia, Mid East, Africa. Over the years the company has been clocking sales between US$50 to 100 million each year. Comprising of about 150 employees that includes the lower level as well as the higher level staffs, the company exports approximately 65% of its produce to the global markets. Moreover, when it comes to quality, people would be delighted to know that the company has procured the quality Certificates for CE, ISO9001, ISO9001:2000, ISO9001:2008.

Some of the major products which the company manufactures include the shearing machines such as the popular Hydraulic guillotine shear machine, press brakes like the popular Hydraulic press brake-bending machine, plate rolls such as the angle roller, etc. All machines are compliant with the European quality standards which make it more conducive for the company to do business globally. The company also follows a dedicated form of operations where they have special teams for the management, technical operations, sales, services, etc. The basic platform which the company has based their principle of operations is to manufacture products which are of international standards.

Some of the elements which provide the company with a competitive advantage includes the large pool of talented employees, its 36,000m2 non0dust workshop, experience of over 2 decades, over 10 dealers in United States of America, and being just a couple of hours from the Shanghai Port. Based in Jiangsu, the company has been expanding over the years and increasing its workload capacities each year. It plans to operate in newer markets and offer world class products based on specific needs. As stated by the company it believes that quality and good backup for customer service has been the key for their popularity and success across the world.

Published inSheet Metal

2-3 times greater productivity against cemented carbide insert grades

CC6190, a new ceramic insert grade for CoroMill 490, promises increased productivity in cast iron and hardened steel due to the potential for higher cutting speeds.

Automotive parts

cc6 imtAny manufacturer involved in automotive part machining or general engineering will benefit from the use of CoroMill 490 with CC6190 ceramic inserts. A superior performance and enhanced precision are assured in applications that include the milling of engine components such as valve bodies, crankshafts and gearbox housings.

Designed and manufactured by Sandvik Coromant, CC6190 offers 2-3 times higher productivity than cemented carbide grades, while the insert design with parallel land delivers exceptional surface quality. It is aimed at the medium-to-light roughing of grey cast iron components, as well as nodular cast iron and compacted graphite iron (CGI) parts.

Improved tool life

In finishing trials on a valve body made from SS0125 cast iron, quality requirements included a surface finish of 1.0 Ra and flatness of 0.03 mm. At identical cutting data, CoroMill 490 with CC6190 inserts achieved 40% greater tool life over a comparable competitor tool. Similarly, another test showed a 20% boost in tool life when roughing a workpiece manufactured from GG25 grey cast iron.

Published inSheet Metal

Despite a great application of force, the air actuators are impressively durable • Tappet counterweight considerably reduces energy requirements • Air actuators enable controlled power transmission and clean machines

air 1It is impossible to imagine the automotive industry without forming presses. They produce great force with which, for example, the metal parts for the body are shaped into their individual desired forms. But they are also increasingly used in other industrial sectors. Air actuators from ContiTech can be used in different positions in these gigantic presses. Depending on the use, they enable easy-to-control power transmission, clean machines, lower energy consumption, and a long service life for the equipment.

The core of a forming press is the "tappet." It moves up and down within a frame and holds the upper part of the mold for the pressing process. The lower part of the mold lies firm in the press equipment. After the sheet metal is inserted, the movement of the tappet presses both parts together and the sheet is shaped. The forming presses work at up to 80 strokes per minute. To make the tappet move, the large carrier mass must be put into motion and a lot of power is needed for this to generate up to 400 kN. This is mostly done using an engine. In order to minimize the need for energy as much as possible, modern forming presses have a tappet counterweight for which ContiTech's air actuators are also used. "For this reason, tappets mostly rely on multiple air actuators which bear the static weight," explains Dr. Olaf Kluth, segment head at ContiTech Air Spring Systems. "This design means that engine output is not necessary in the central position. The drive is only needed for the loading and unloading of the tappet. This allows energy to be saved and likewise mechanical components can be protected."

In this application, the air actuators work as an air spring. They do not have an air supply and produce a spring effect by compressing air using movement. Air actuators with large diameters of 600 to 700 millimeters are generally used to create the enormous power needed to bear the tappets.

As opposed to conventional pneumatic cylinders with sliding seals, ContiTech air actuators have considerable advantages. Sliding seals can quickly wear at approximately 80 strokes per minute. Downtime is necessary for servicing and replacing them, which means loss of production. ContiTech air actuators are different: they operate without sliding seals, are practically maintenance-free, and provide pressing companies with a long-lasting and energy-saving solution.

Controlled power and clean machines
In forming presses, air actuators can also be used within the tappet bolster. They sit directly in the tappet and cushion the affixed tool against impacts. For example, this can be molds like those used in the automotive industry to manufacture body parts. "The tools used can be fed in a controlled manner," says Kluth. "The power exerted can be individually adjusted. This achieves optimal results."

Another possible use for air actuators in forming presses is contained in the area above the tappet, where the tappet's upward and downward movement takes place. The mechanical components are set in a greasy medium which enables frictionless movement. The common sliding ring seals cannot, however, fully prevent liquid from leaking. As a result, the machine becomes increasingly dirty. To prevent this process, ContiTech has developed sealing bellows which are modified from an air actuator. "In practice, we have noticed that the sealing bellows also withstand high stroke rates and therefore the enormous loads in the forming press," explains Kluth.

ContiTech has decades of practical experience with the different uses of air actuators in forming presses. For years the air spring specialist has successfully worked together with leading manufacturers in the supply industry to develop individual solutions according to their needs. New developments are extensively tested in simulations and designed for practical application. The result? ContiTech air actuators make forming presses even more effective, cleaner, and more energy efficient.

Published inSheet Metal

Outokumpu stainless steel gives a new look for the New Street station in Birmingham, UK. More than 8 000 bright polished, laser-cut panels of stainless steel, altogether more than 20 000 square meters, will cover the façade of the station. Outokumpu supplies up to 400 tons of stainless steel for the cladding of the building.


140 000 passengers use the Birmingham train station daily, which makes it one of the busiest train stations in the UK. Originally it was built accommodate to less than half that number in the 1960s. Network Rail is now undertaking redevelopment work which will give passengers a concourse with three and a half times more space, more accessible platforms with new escalators and lifts. During the work, the concrete exterior of the building will be cladded in stainless steel. 

Martifer is managing the entire project that started in 2010 in the Birmingham city centre. They requested a very brightly polished stainless steel for the façade of the building. All of the stainless steel in the new New Street station comes from Outokumpu. Tornio produced three-millimeter 316 coils which were then cut to length, bright polished and finished in Sheffield by Outokumpu and its subcontractor, a long-time partner of Outokumpu who was recommended to the customer by Outokumpu. Outokumpu’s plate service centre in Sheffield also advised the station contractors on how to handle stainless steel.


“The stainless steel façade is an integral element of our project to completely transform Birmingham New Street station. We are working in and around an original 1960s structure that has long given a tired and poor impression to the busiest station outside of London and Britain’s second city.  The steel cladding transforms the dated structure into a stunning, 21st century, world class building and puts the station on the map as a landmark in Birmingham, adding to the city's growing reputation for good design. The steel cladding completed so far has already created a buzz around the city and all involved are excited about the future final completion,” says Chris Montgomery, Network Rail Project Director.

“After a careful market analysis and detailed tendering process, Martifer selected Outokumpu due to the high-end characteristics of the product and the confidence instilled in us during the several technical meetings that preceded the order issue. As the extreme complexity of this project is only surpassable through careful management of processes and adequate monitoring of all operations, Outokumpu proved to be the partner we needed for a project of this magnitude and technical requirements. Outokumpu is technically and in Martifer’s opinion the leading expert in stainless steel solutions,” says Francisco Loureiro at Martifer.

The first half of the New Street station has opened up for passengers in April 2013. The station will be completed in 2015.

Published inSheet Metal
Tuesday, 12 November 2013 08:20

FIPA Enters the Sheet Metal Industry

fipa imtWith the world's largest selection of suction cups, FIPA (http://www.fipa.com) is one of the leaders in the vacuum technology industry. The company will make its premier sheet metal industry appearance at FABTECH 2013 (http://www.fabtechexpo.com/), North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event running from November 18-21 in Chicago, IL.

“Our participation at FABTECH is our introduction to the sheet metal industry. We look forward to using our more than 20 years of experience and excellent customer service to deliver solutions to the sheet metal industry,” says Rainer Mehrer, President of FIPA.

FABTECH attendants will be able to review why FIPA is a leading company represented in many industries worldwide. As a logical consequence FIPA now enters into sheet metal handling in order to implement the existing expertise profitably for a new group of clients.

Visit Booth S2154 to discover one of the largest selection of suction cups and accessories, as well as get a sneak peak of its new line of round sheet metal suction cups soon to be released to the market.

Published inSheet Metal

sigmanest logo imtSigmaTEK Systems, the world’s leading authority on CAD/CAM nesting and manufacturing process automation, announces the appointment of Steve Ties to Regional Sales Manager. In this role Mr. Ties will be responsible for directing sales throughout the company’s Northern U.S. Region which includes: Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Steve’s background includes more than twenty years of industry experience in manufacturing engineering. Most recently he served as SigmaTEK’s Regional Sales Representative for the region.

SigmaTEK Vice President of Sales, Kevin Ramirez comments:

“Steve’s background, industry experience, and customer focus are important to SigmaTEK and our growing community of customers. We are confident in Steve’s ability to work with new and current customers and partners throughout the region to bring best-in-class fabrication solutions to the region’s manufacturers.”

SigmaNEST is registered trademarks of SigmaTEK Systems, LLC

Published inSheet Metal

uss steel imtUnited States Steel Corporation (NYSE: X) is pleased to announce the addition of a new high-quality, value-added product to our lineup of construction steels that supports green building design and practices, positively impacting these projects' environmental sustainability. ACRYLUME E PLUS(TM) Coated Steel Sheet, a new coated flat-rolled steel that has a chromium-free clear emissive polymer coating, provides all of the quality and performance attributes inherent of ACRYLUME(R) with improved thermal emittance.

U. S. Steel's new ACRYLUME E PLUS(TM) offers the environmentally conscious metal building construction industry a chromium-free emissive acrylic coating on GALVALUME(R) Coated Steel Sheet, which is designed to meet challenging solar reflectance and thermal emittance regulations. Prior to the introduction of this product, the emissivity requirements could only be met through pre-painted GALVALUME(R) products. ACRYLUME E PLUS(TM) also meets numerous European Union environmental directives including Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH).

The original ACRYLUME(R) , which meets all current environmental guidelines in the United States, will continue to be available to customers for commonly used applications such as metal roofing and siding.

The new ACRYLUME E PLUS(TM) provides users with the same benefits as traditional ACRYLUME(R) . ACRYLUME(R) set the standard for enhancing the outstanding corrosion protection of GALVALUME(R) Coated Steel Sheet by sealing it in a tough, clear polymer coating. As with ACRYLUME(R) and ACRYLUME CF(TM), ACRYLUME E PLUS(TM) also minimizes staining and discoloration issues during storage, handling and installation, and both products can be used in the same end-use applications. In addition, neither product requires the application of lubricants prior to roll forming, thus they can be delivered to a job site free from slippery substances, providing customers with increased safety during handling and installation.

SOURCE United States Steel Corporation

Published inSheet Metal

Semyx is proud to announce the immediate availability of its new Cobra Series waterjet cutting machines. The Cobra water jet cutting series is the newest addition to the Semyx line of water jet cutters.

cobra sheet imt
The Cobra waterjet cutting series is best suited for large areas, which allows for mass production and cutting of large materials. The Cobra waterjet cutting series, also, allows you to add additional cutting heads to enable double production on the same machine, yielding higher running speeds. Like all Semyx models, the Cobra Series features stainless steel covers, central controller for all modules, and CAM software enhancements.

“One of the Cobra’s special features is its special linear drive belt,” said This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Director of Sales at Semyx. “This gives the machine a much faster speed and acceleration on all axes, which speeds up production tremendously when cutting softer materials. We have specifically geared this machine towards the carpet and turf industries.”

Published inSheet Metal

sheet metal 1 imtStrong business growth at Blaze Neon, one of the UK's largest manufacturers of signs for retail shopfronts, banks and offices, has prompted the installation of a second flatbed laser profiler and two new CNC press brakes at its Broadstairs factory within the past 18 months. All machines were supplied by Bystronic UK.

Established in 1981 and now employing over 300 staff at its factories in Broadstairs and Birmingham, which also incorporates Cygnia Maintenance, Blaze is a long-time user of plant from Bystronic, having purchased a larger laser profiler at the end of the 1990s and a water jet cutting machine in 2007.

Managing Director Clive Knight said, "We decided to opt for machines from this Swiss manufacturer as, 14 years ago, they were the only supplier of top quality sheet metalworking equipment prepared to equip a CO2 laser cutting centre with extraction, filtration and ducting to allow us to profile perspex safely.

"The machine proved reliable in operation and continues to do so, which encouraged us to standardise on this supplier for practically all of our sheet metal processing plant.

"We think they are well produced machines and the manufacturer keeps up to date with modern sheet metalworking technology, which allows us to stay competitive.

"Having the extra equipment means we normally complete our production during day shifts, seven days a week, so expensive night shifts are avoided."

The original Bystar 4020 laser cutting machine accepts 4-metre by 2-metre sheet whereas the latest machine, a Bysprint 3015, has a capacity of 3 metres by 1.5 metres. A second bed at the rear allows a new sheet to be set up while the previous one is in the machining area.

The rationale for installing the machine was to provide extra capacity and back-up for the Bystar. This is important for Blaze, as a majority of its work is laser-cut and turnaround of one week and sometimes less has to be maintained within the production shop. There is a trend among steel sheet suppliers to standardise on 3-metre material, which encouraged the company to opt for the smaller Bysprint.

One of the operators responsible for laser profiling at Broadstairs advised, "The new machine is around 15 per cent faster than the original model, due to its smaller moving elements and modern drives.

"We mainly cut aluminium and stainless steel up to 3 mm thick and perspex up to 5 mm. However, brass and occasionally copper are also profiled. The Bystronic control contains parameters for cutting all of these materials using optimum conditions."

Interestingly, this operator is Blaze's only remaining employee with experience of operating the pantograph laser cutter that the Bystar replaced. Very advanced for its time, it required a paper template to allow a line-follower to trace the profile.

However, humidity tended to distort the paper and with customers demanding increasingly higher quality signs, requiring a tolerance of ±0.5 mm to be held, accuracy became difficult to hold. In addition, the lower power laser resulted in a cutting speed one-tenth that of the Bystar's, so the machine struggled to keep up as production quantities grew.

Blaze's metal shop supervisor commented, "Some degree of CNC profiling resilience was introduced with the installation of a ByJet Pro 3015 water jet cutting machine, the first and only one we have on site.

At the same time, it allowed us to manufacture our own mild steel bases for totem signs we make for Sainsbury's, Yamaha and other well-known firms. Previously, the 25 mm thick bases were bought in, but if a customer pulled forward the delivery date, it was difficult for us to respond as production was out of our hands."

Having 3 metre by 1.5 metre water jet profiling capacity in-house also allowed the sign manufacturer to expand the scope of its manufacture to include glass, brick and tile items, as well as to cut softer materials like perspex and foamex when required.

Features of the machine include twin cutting heads which double production output, automatic adjustment of cutting head height, 84 m/min simultaneous positioning and a shuttle table for loading and unloading material at the same time. The Waterjet can be programmed by the same Bysoft programming software as the two laser machines, making transfer of work seamless.

In May this year (2013), Blaze turned its attention to metal bending capacity. Against a backdrop of increasingly tight tolerances and more long-term contracts for banks, notably Lloyds TSB, Metro and the Halifax, the manufacturer decided to install two Bystronic press brakes. They are an Xact 100 for bending material up to 3 metres long and an Xact 160 capable of processing 4-metre sheet, mainly aluminium and stainless steel. Model numbers denote pressing force in tonnes.

Existing equipment on site was starting to fold sheet either over- or under-square, due to general wear and the old method of bottoming out the top wedge-shaped tool, or punch, into the 90-degree V of the lower die plate. Blaze's metal shop supervisor said that the Bystronic press brakes use air bending to produce much more accurate folds, whether at 90 degrees or at intermediate angles for sloping facades, all using the same die set. Consistency of bending from batch to batch avoids the need occasionally to fit-up panels if they are slightly out of alignment.

During air bending, accurate CNC control over ram position allows the upper tool to press the workpiece into the bottom tool opening by exactly the right amount, without bottoming. Bend angle is controlled by the program, which specifies how deeply the punch should enter the die.

To avoid variance along the bend length due to the frame deflecting, hydraulic crowning automatically applies compensation pressure in the middle of the machine to ensure the angle is precisely the same throughout the whole bend length. The 2D control enables easy program entry, graphical visualisation of the part and simulation of the bending process, including collision monitoring and ensuring that the operator bends the part in the correct sequence.

Published inSheet Metal