MoldMaking Technology

NOV 2018

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Case Study / Automation 30 MoldMaking Technology —— NOVEMBER 2018 A seven-axis FANUC robot feeds a workpiece into one of four new Makino D500 five-axis vertical machining centers in Cooper Tires's eight-station CNC machining cell. The company says that investing in advanced automation has reduced costs and downtime, provided more flexibility and made the Findlay, Ohio, operations more competitive globally. By Cynthia Kustush Anyone who owns a vehicle and who purchased tires for it is probably familiar with Cooper Tires, the flagship brand of par- ent company Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. (Findlay, Ohio). The Cooper Tires moldmaking plant is based in Findlay and cur- rently designs and builds about 300 molds per year to produce tires for cars, minivans, SUVs/CUVs and pickup trucks. Dan Duling is Cooper Tires's project engineer, oversee- ing the company's 24/7 moldmaking operations and its 85 employees. About two-and-a-half years ago, his plant took delivery of four new Makino D500 ‹ive-axis VMCs, a 40-position MMC2 pallet stocker and a FANUC seven-axis robot that operates on a rail system—an update to an aging CNC machining cell comprising 8 ‹ive-axis machine tools. Replacing just half of the less-ef‹icient CNC machines with the Makino D500 machines has produced several notable bene‹its to the moldmaking process, Duling says, and will most likely lead to further investment in machine tools and automation sooner rather than later. More Capability, Less Equipment and Material Cooper Tires's previous processes involved using a lot more CNC equipment, including a vertical turning lathe, a saw and a wire EDM machine, Duling says. Because tires are round and because the 20-year-old milling centers were not as versatile as the new Makinos, the company's moldmaking process began with a ring of aluminum material that was turned, cut into eight segments and then machined with wire EDM to burn through the remainder of the mold details. All those steps were necessary in addition to the vertical milling that was performed on more than one of the eight machines in the cell, he says. COOPER TIRES PROBLEM: Aging, inefficient machine tools, exces- sive manual processes and, at times, added mold- material costs. SOLUTION: Updated manufacturing cell with four new Makino D500 five-axis vertical machining centers and a FANUC seven-axis robot. RESULTS: Significantly improved efficiencies leading to cost savings in both time and materials. Advanced Manufacturing Cell Speeds Tire- Mold Production Images courtesy of Cooper Tires. VIDEO Access the related video under the Videos tab at MMT online.

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