The 5 axis leap

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by Kip Hanson

Quebec mouldmaker embraces five axis technology in a big way

When André Rochette decides to do something, he does it in a big way. As president of Rocand Inc., Sainte-Foy, QC, he was faced with a substantial increase in sales and development activity.

He wasn’t about to let his customers down. “Client relations are very important to us, and as a Tier 1 automotive supplier, we have to meet aggressive delivery times. Our existing equipment was unable to keep up with demand, so it was a simple decision. We increased capacity to meet our customers’ needs.”

Most manufacturers would respond by purchasing an additional machine to meet that need. Rocand ordered three. “Small, medium, and large,” laughs Rochette, describing his new five axis CNC universal milling machines from DMG. “Our goal is to continually produce high quality products to the automotive industry, with the best lead time and a competitive price. Choosing that equipment was a way for us to achieve those goals.”

Mouldmakers need a number of capabilities to do their work. Chief among these is an efficient method of removing large amounts of material quickly. DMG delivered that with its U-series machines. The largest of Rocand’s new machines, the DMU 340 P, has a 3400 mm work envelope and table load capacity of 16 tons. Its 52 kW, 12,000 rpm spindle boasts 430 Nm of torque. And since Rocand purchased the optional 24000 rpm pickup spindle, it can rough and finish five sides of the workpiece in one handling. Says Rochette, “now we can do more machining in a single operation and produce tools for our customers in the shortest possible time.” 

Those tools include sophisticated injection moulds for motor covers. “That one has an integrated lead-frame, with two overmoulded components inside,” says Rochette. “We had to develop that expertise to manage a variety of global programs for all the major car manufacturers, including Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, Peugeot, Renault, GM, Ford, Nissan and Hyundai.” 

Why did Rocand choose DMG? “We’ve been doing five axis machining since 2004 and already had a good idea of what we needed,” explains Rochette. “But we wanted to look at different approaches to high speed machining, so we visited the 2011 EMO show in Hanover, Germany. We looked at a number of machine tools, but the deciding factor for us was DMG’s approach on the design of the equipment, the size and the configuration for our application. Aside from the quality of the machines overall, many of them have a cubic work envelope, which is very good for mouldmaking.”

The machines have been in production since September 2012. “This investment allows us to serve our different customers as quickly as possible, with quality products at a competitive price. The DMG equipment helps us to achieve that objective.”

Rocand has been on a steady growth path since its doors opened in 1996. It achieved ISO 9001 certification in 2001, doubled the size of its production floor a year later, and is adding space to the facility again this year. With technical centre facilities in Mexico, Brazil, France and Germany, Rocand is now a leader in complex injection and extrusion blow moulding, and prides itself on fair and ethical relationships with its clients. The trio of DMG machines now sitting on Rocand’s shop floor can only serve to strengthen those relationships. SMT 

Kip Hanson is a contributing editor. [email protected]

Rocand Inc.



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