MoldMaking Technology

MAR 2018

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Case Study / Automation 34 MoldMaking Technology —— MARCH 2018 Summit Tooling (McHenry, Illinois) routinely runs 24/7 unattended machining. Robots load and unload tooling and workpiece fixtures in three manufacturing cells, feeding nine machines that include a graphite mill, vertical mills and sinker and wire EDM machines. Summit Tooling President Dan Martin credits this capability to the partnership that his company built with Makino, which supplies Summit Tooling's machine tools and the engineering services that Summit Tooling used to implement these complex automation systems. Dan Martin and his wife Michelle founded Summit Tooling in 1996. The company designs and manufactures small to medium precision prototypes and production molds for a variety of applications including over-molds, two-shot injec- tion molds, insert molds, spin-cavity technology, hydraulic- core pull technology and thin-wall molds. Customers hail from medical, pharmaceutical, consumer packaging and automotive markets as well as from the electric utilities industry. The company has 30 employees. Efficiency through Automation Aids Growth Like most mold manufacturing companies today, Summit Tooling competes with manufacturers from around the world that offer lower labor prices. Customer requirements for increasingly complex mold designs with tighter tolerances and demands for shorter lead times and reduced costs also challenge the company. "The biggest challenge today is speeding up the moldmak- ing process to deliver products faster, and automation is the SUMMIT TOOLING PROBLEM: Meeting customers' requirements for delivering complex molds with shorter lead times while also reducing costs. SOLUTION: Makino EDM and CNC machining centers that are equipped with robotics that are configured into automated manufacturing cells. RESULTS: Machines run unattended 24/7, which resulted in decreased delivery times and costs and doubled sales and production. Automated Machining Cells Simplify Moldmaking only way to do this," Martin says. "Unattended run time is the main reason we are delivering projects much, much more rapidly today." Martin researched and met with a variety of mill and EDM suppliers, seeking not just a machine manufacturer but also a partner to play a strategic role in how Summit Tooling would grow. The company began investing in the first of its 11 Makino machines in 2008. The same year, Summit Tooling purchased an a61 horizontal machining center and two S33 vertical machining centers from Makino. Shortly thereafter, in 2011, Martin enlisted the support of Makino's automation and engineering services to integrate the company's first fully automated EDM cell, a Makino EDAF2 sinker EDM machine. Martin did not invest in full automation of loading and unloading of tooling, parts and fixtures at this point because, as he says, "I'm a conservative person, so I tend to move cau- tiously." Nevertheless, Summit Tooling replaced 12 commod- ity milling machines with the three new Makino machines This aerial shot shows one of Summit Tooling's EDM cells that was installed in 2014–2015. It combines two Makino U32j and one U53Tj wire EDM machines that are loaded and unloaded by a System 3R Workmaster robot. Summit chose these machines because of their programmable work tanks and ergonomic access to the work zone. These features also provide flexibility in the ways that the automated cells are configurable on the shop floor. Images courtesy of Makino. VIDEO Access the related video under the Videos tab at MMT online.

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