EMO 2019 Tactile measurement for fewer machine idle times

Author / Editor: Patricia Hubert / Mag. Victoria Sonnenberg

Setting up tools Alupress produces aluminium workpieces in large volumes with µm precision. For this, high-precision tools are needed. When these tools have to be set up, the specialist for complex processing of cast components relies on Mapal.

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Alupress relies on the new Uniset-P set-up device from Mapal when it comes, for example, to setting up PCD surface mills to µm accuracy.
Alupress relies on the new Uniset-P set-up device from Mapal when it comes, for example, to setting up PCD surface mills to µm accuracy.
(Photo: Mapal)

Every week, 75,000 components, completely processed housings, or aluminium flanges leave the Alupress Berlin GmbH. Over 80 % of these components are made with tools from Mapal. Over 20 years ago, a reamer was the first tool from Mapal to be put into action in the works in Berlin. For “in the field of fine processing, Mapal’s know-how is unique,” says Patrick Wittig, responsible for tool management in the Berlin factory.

The highest precision is demanded in many areas at Alupress. “In some cases, we must produce boreholes in large series to a tolerance of less than 5 µm and achieve surface roughnesses of Rz = 2 µm,” Wittig explains. The highest precision is therefore fundamental with these tools. When processing a flange, a tool with fixed, soldered cutting edges will not create the desired surface. “We therefore changed to a milling tool with adjustable PCD blades,” Burk­hard Schimkat, responsible for jigs and tool technology at Alupress, remembers. For production with µm precision, however, each cutting-edge on a milling tool must be set with µm precision to match the runout.

The challenge of setting up to µm accuracy

And this is exactly where Alupress faced a challenge for a long time. “We only had an optical set-up device in use,” says Wittig. “Tactile measurement with blade contact was, however, unavoidable in this case in order to achieve the required tolerances.” The final precision had to be set directly on the machine. And that was elaborate, liable to error and time-consuming. For this, machines stood still for up to 2 hours.

This is why Alupress went on a search for alternative procedures. “It was only logical to take our challenge in setting up the tools straight to Mapal,” says Wittig. For Mapal had long kept a consignment store at Alupress for different projects. Once a week, a technical adviser from Mapal was on site in order to ensure, among other things, that the stock of tools was in order, to check newly arrived tools, or to initiate repairs. “For this, we have the Unibase-M dispensing system from Mapal and in this context had also become familiar with the firm’s set-up devices. In addition, the PCD surface mill, which prompted the search for a solution, was from Mapal,” states Wittig, recalling the details.

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Tactile measurement with µm precision

Since October 2018, the presetting room at Alupress in Berlin has contained a Uniset-P from Mapal. The columns of this set-up device, which has a portal construction, contain a measurement camera and a backlight source for optical measurement of tools. “The set-up device for Alupress is equipped with an additional traverse in the portal,” explains Michael Hils, Product Manager Mechatronic Systems at Mapal. On this traverse is mounted, on the one hand, a second camera for rotation centre measurements and blade inspections as well as, on the other hand, an axial tactile sensor to measure runouts with µm precision and to enable adjustment.

Patrick Wittig is enthusiastic: “We use the Uniset-P to set, for example, our Mapal PCD surface mill to an accuracy of 2 µm. Additional fine adjustment of the milling inserts relating to the axial runout in the machine space is eliminated, thanks to the new set-up device.” For Alupress, this means an enormous time-saving.

Yet this is not the only advantage that the Uniset-P provides for the firm. “The set-up cycle for the tools can be preset and saved,” explains Michael Hils. This means that the operator selects on the monitor the tool to be set up and receives step-by-step explanations of the values he should set. These values are laid down once for each tool, then the corresponding measurement program is created and stored. “The handling is very simple. Once a tool has been recorded, every operator can set it up,” Wittig confirms.

This raises process security, for only when tools are correctly set up can the required tolerance be achieved in processing. “With the second camera, furthermore, we can, for example, document the blade inspection very accurately,” adds Wittig.

Tool management as additional support

It is not only with Mapal’s set-up device that Alupress is completely satisfied. “We received excellent training for this device,” says Wittig. In addition, we hear that the tool management, which Mapal took care of for projects at the Alupress base in Berlin as well as the branch in Laurens (USA), provides enormous support. “This means that we have no more tool bottlenecks now,” Wittig continues. A dialogue partner with technical know-how is always available, he says: “Mapal not only supplies us with tools, dispensing systems and set-up devices, but also supports us in fulfilling production schedules,” Burkhard Schimkat concludes. And the collaboration of the partners continues.

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Just recently, Alupress tested the new Unibase-S dispensing system for decentralised availability of personal protective equipment for workers.

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* Dipl. Eng. (FH) Patricia Hubert is PR Project Manager in Corporate Communications at the Mapal Fabrik für Präzisionswerkzeuge Dr. Kress KG in 73431 Aalen, tel. (00 49-73 61) 5 85-0, info@mapal.com