Top from left: Ken Fleming, Circa Metals VP of operations, Peter Visser, Mate Precision Tooling sales engineer, and Sean Reid, turret press setup operator. Click image to enlargeCombining the right tooling with new fabrication machinery will get the most bang for your investment buck


Circa Metals has built its success on using a knowledgeable, systematic approach to punch press tool selection and use.


Circa is a full-service sheet metal fabrication company in Vaughan, Ont. With a 9,200 sq m (99,000 sq ft) facility equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, the company handles both large and smaller fabricating projects from product design assistance to custom parts. Its capabilities include metal stamping and blanking, roll forming and shearing, embossing, press brake bending, pemming, turret punching, notching, TIG, MIG and spot welding, powder coating as well as complete product assembly. 

Any company using the latest technology in turret machines requires an equal amount of tooling expertise to maximize the quality of their products and productivity of the shop as a whole. 

It’s all about “maximizing turret output and getting rid of secondary operations,” says Peter Visser, Mate Precision Tooling sales engineer. “The more operations that use special application tooling and are consolidated into the punch press, the higher the productivity.”

Four Mate special application tools used in the Prima Power presses help automate and maximize operations.Click image to enlargeCirca Metals put this theory to the test with the recent implementation of four Mate tooling products—the EasyTap, EasyBend, Multi Tool and QCT tooling. The tooling was part of a capital equipment upgrade at Circa, which included the acquisition of two Prima Power punch presses.

With an ever-growing customer list, Circa is expanding its capabilities at its Ontario shop with the latest technology, including the two Prima Power punching systems. Circa is both a contract manufacturer for a number of Canadian companies, as well as a manufacturer of its own enclosures product line for electrical and communications equipment. Its customers includes leading companies in the telecom, communications, data centre, utilities and electrical distribution spaces.

Productivity improvements have so far proven to be substantial. Circa’s new turret presses automate secondary operations and even handle raw material handling for unmanned production. 

This automated production is maximized four ways using Mate punch tooling:

  • EasyBend tool bends sheet metal tabs at any angle up to 90°, which has eliminated moving parts to a press brake; 
  • EasyTap produces threaded holes, eliminating secondary drilling and tapping operations; 
  • Multi Tool consolidates smaller tools into a single tool, saving space in the turret for more tools 
  • QCT quick change tooling saves setup time on new projects. 

Sean Reid, Circa Metals turret press setup operator, loads a full complement of Mate tools into the Prima Power Model 1530 turret.Click image to enlargeProductive production
“Circa Metals really understands the importance of the correct tooling in getting the most out of their turret presses,” says Visser. “While tooling can account for a quarter of the price of a new machine, properly managed, its contribution to profitability could be many times that.” 

The focus on new tech and tooling not only increases profitability for the jobs they are used on, but they also decrease Circa’s variable spending by as much as 10 per cent. 

Peter Schagen, Circa’s engineering team leader, says the Mate tooling combined with the new Prima Power presses has resulted in measurable improvement.

“On average, we tap 5,000 holes a month on various part projects. There’s no lost time moving the parts to another machine for tapping operations when using the EasyTap tool.”

Once programmed, the system fabricates parts automatically with punched features; bends, taps and threaded holes are all done without operator intervention.Click image to enlargeSchagen also says Circa sets up the machine 20 per cent faster using Mate QCT tooling, and its M4PM tool steel adds a lot more wear resistance and toughness over conventional tool steels. Add the UltraTEC holders in the QCT, and Schagen says set up time is
often cut in half. 

“Circa Metals has approximately 50 Mate Multi Tools in our two Prima Power presses, with two Multi Tool stations in each machine,” says Schagen. “This enables adding more tools in the turret for V-line letter stencils, countersinks and other forming tools. These additional tools in the turret means more machine indexability and overall more green light production time for the press.” 

When it comes to custom fabrication, Circa’s new VariBend tool saves trips to the press brake for bending. 

“That’s where this tool pays off the most,” Schagen says. “Using Mate’s VariBend, Easy Tap, Multi Tool and QCT tooling maximizes our press output.” 

Partnering for success
One of the keys to a successful technology implementation is having a partner on the sales side that understands his customers’ needs and expected outcomes. Schagen says Mate sales engineer Peter Visser helps design the right tool combinations to get the most out of the recently acquired machines. 

“He really helps us understand the true value of the tooling, the quality of the fabricated parts and how the tooling contributes to the bottom line. That’s really important to us,” says Schagen. SMT

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