Keeping it Simple
- August 29, 2017
The automotive industry sure hasn’t. Brian Donnelly, president at machine tool distributor Ferro Technique Ltd., says two axis lathes and three axis machining centres remain as popular as ever with Canadian automotive parts suppliers and OEMs, far more so than their more complex peers.
“Advanced machinery definitely has its place, but the fact remains that multi-taskers can’t compete with traditional machine tools in terms of sheer metal removal,” he says. “And that’s usually the primary consideration with automotive and other high-volume parts producers. As a rule, they want to do all their milling on a machining center, and their turning on a lathe.”
Because of this, the majority of Donnelly’s business in this area comes from sales of Doosan CNC two axis and three axis equipment. Of course, that doesn’t mean these relatively “simple” machines aren’t being dressed to the nines with automation, including robotic part handling and built-in pallet changers. “The advantage here is that you can maximize your spindle cutting time by loading one pallet while the other is busy making parts,” he says. “We’re also seeing a lot of twin spindle activity. This includes the DMP500-2SP twin-spindle vertical machining centre and the TW2600-GL twin spindle lathe, both of which are becoming very popular in automotive.”
Wayne Pitlivka, manager of technical sales at Ferro Technique, says auto parts manufacturers are also showing great interest in making these machines more productive. Quick change toolholders and workholding have been available for decades, as has offline presetting, but it appears this technology is finally beginning to make sense for higher volume manufacturers. “One of our customers recently benchmarked some quick change tooling and found there is definitely good ROI on the investment,” says Pitlivka. “Implementing such equipment resulted in a lot less machine down time with no negative impact on tool life or part quality. Granted, tooling up like this can be an expensive endevour for anyone, but if it saves a company money in the long run, that’s the path they’re usually going to take.”