A good turn

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by Shop MT staff

Alpen Machine & Tool Ltd., Concord, ON, has been in business since 1979 and has continued to grow even through economic downturns because of a focus on technology investments.

“We’ve made good choices along the way and we reinvest heavily back into the business,” says Robert Verhousek, plant manager, who runs the operation with his father, Frank. “Since 2008, we’ve put back about $2 million into the company.”

Part of that investment includes a DMG four axis turning and milling centre, the CTX gamma 1250 TC, installed last September. The new machine joins several other DMG machines in the 8,000 sq ft machine shop – three axis milling and simultaneous five axis milling, as well as three surface grinders (Rosa Linea Steel and Jakobsen).

The CTX gamma 1250 TC is unique in design. It features the integration of a powerful B axis milling spindle for five axis simultaneous machining.  The machine is designed with a large Y-axis range of +/- 7.9 in. and linear roller guideways in all axes for improved machine performance. A disk-type magazine holds 24 or 36 tools. The machine features a Siemens 840D solutionline control for user friendly DIN programming, DMG’s ShopTurn 3G and shop floor orientation.

Indeed, Verhousek says what he likes best about the DMG machines are their user friendliness.

“I’ve been a machinist for 16 years and I first started on a Deckel, which is now part of the DMG group. Even back then it was easy to use because it had a conversational code for programming instead of the more complex G code. Over the years we have had machines from different suppliers, but we felt that DMG perform better when it comes to cycle times, acceleration and deceleration and quality for machining tolerances.”

Verhousek says Alpen has invested in high-end machine tools because it’s the only way to compete in the competitive job shop market.  Up until the financial crisis hit in 2008, Alpen’s main business was machining mould components. But when the downturn hit, Verhousek says he and his father decided to move out of the mould business and focus on aerospace, power generation and oil and gas industries.

“We like the more difficult-to-cut materials and more complex jobs. We were competing with too many people for the simple stuff. Now we can handle complex jobs because our new machine is rigid and can handle anything. Also, DMG is pretty much the champion in five axis machining and we have that capability now.”

The CTX line includes the CTX beta 1250 4A, the newest machine in the family, which extends the range of applications for this line of turning and milling centres into four axis production turning. It offers complete machining of chuck-held stock and bar stock in two opeations on the main and counter spindle. Key features of the new machine include a water-cooled motor on the main and counter spindles, a 12-pocket direct drive VDI turret with a maximum 10,000 rpm (16 stations, for faster removal rates, is optional), a turrent with the Trifix precision quick change system for VDI tools and simple and fast programming using the Siemens ShopTurn 3G control.


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