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Speed is life: increased production speed for a family-owned shop doubled sales in six months.

Stephen Morin, managing partner of 4-M Precision Stamping, Inc., Auburn, NY, and his staff spent eight months in search of a punch press and press brake that would add fabricating capacity to their business. They looked for equipment with the highest throughput and fastest print-to-prototype time. They found it in a high-speed, high-performance, 30-ton CNC turret punch press and precision servo-controlled hydraulic press brake with an adaptive forming device manufactured by Strippit/LVD, Akron, NY. The combination of punching and bending technology helped Morin and his staff expand their fabrication business and double sales in six months.


The short-run stamping shop is a family-owned business established in 1968. The company is operated by owners and founders Germain, Stephen, and Daniel Morin who work alongside family members Margaret, Allen, and Edith.


The company ventured into sheet metal fabrication when stamping work

diminished because of shortened product life cycles and increased offshore activity. The company provides stamping and fabricating services for both short- and long-run applications, producing component sheet metal parts for OEMs in the medical, plumbing, and heating industries, and processing materials, such as cold-rolled steel, stainless, aluminum, and copper. The company employs 60 workers at its 50,000 f[t.sup.2] facility in upstate New York.

The addition of a Global 30 1225 CNC turret punch press and PPEB 90-ton press brake changed the mix of 4-M's work from predominantly stamping to an equal mix of fabricating and stamping jobs.

The company eliminated the six- to eight-week process required to hard-tool jobs and is handling work it could not have pursued before the punch press and press brake. In an example of the streamlined process, Stephen estimated a job on Monday, won the work on Wednesday, and began producing parts on Friday.

"The speed and accuracy of the turret punch press opened new doors for us," Germain said. "We're processing jobs we wouldn't have pursued before. In many cases, I couldn't have designed the tools in the time it now takes us to start running parts. We have reduced tooling lead time as much as five weeks."

The 30-ton hydraulic punch press delivers up to 400 hits per minute on 1" centers and is capable of producing at 1,000 strokes per minute in continuous nibbling mode.

The punch press handles workpieces up to 98.4"x49.2" and material up to 0.250" thick. It provides [+ or -]0.004" finished part accuracy and [+ or -]0.002" finished part repeatability with axis speed of 83m/min. Global's X-axis, Y-axis, diagonal speed, and turret rotation also contribute to the machine's overall throughput.

The machine's productivity is due to an advanced servo-hydraulic press drive optimized for high-speed operation. This high-speed hydraulic system gives 4-M the flexibility and features that take advantage of the intuitive control interaction. 4-M's operators can apply custom settings or alterations to stroke elements, such as depth offset, dwell and ram speed, to further maximize machine capabilities.

Job Transfers

To gain production efficiency, Dan, 4-M's production manager, transferred jobs from the company's waterjet to the punch press. A part that took 25 minutes to process on the waterjet and a machining center--requiring two handling operations--now is done on the punch press, producing a sheet of eight parts in less than 12 minutes. A single operation punches, taps, and countersinks holes.

"The ability to perform tapping and countersinking are key features for many of the parts we produce," Allen said.

The 30-station turret is engineered to minimize setup time. Every station accepts shaped punches and dies. Quick-change die holders reduce setup time, and a large tool door allows easy access to the turret for tool changeovers.

The hydraulic press brake complements the capabilities of the punch press and lets 4-M produce accurate, high-quality parts with fewer setups and less handling.

"We have eliminated as much as 80 percent of our setup time with the new press brake," Edith said. "Parts that used to take 15 minutes to set up are now set up in 15 seconds."

The press brake features a PC-based CNC and software package. The CAD/CAM CNC creates and stores interactive databases for bend allowance, angle corrections, and spring-back. The user-generated databases created by actual bending results are searched and applied each time a part program is generated. This automatic optimization of the part program eliminates trial bending and reduces the time required to produce a quality part.

Scrapping Trial Runs

Scrap has been reduced by 75 percent by eliminating setup operation trial runs.

The company uses the Easy-Form Laser adaptive bending system to assure first-part/good-part accuracy. The system uses a laser to monitor the bend angle and sends real-time information to the CNC, which adjusts to produce the correct angle without interrupting the bending process.

"The ability to prototype quickly and to produce a blank, put it on the press brake, and have it formed correctly the first time was key for us," Stephen said.

The company now produces prototypes from a drawing to a hands-on part in less than 30 minutes. Although prototyping is not a business focus for 4-M, the company generates prototypes for large jobs.

"We don't consider ourselves a prototype house, but before you buy 100,000 of a six-part weldment, it's beneficial to have a dozen prototypes in hand," Stephen said. "We generate those prototypes very quickly."

The accuracy of punched and formed components improved the speed and accuracy of 4-M's robotic welding operations, and provides the part volume required for robotic welding. In one application, 4-M welded 72 components in less than two minutes, significantly faster than manual welding which would take eight minutes or longer. The company offers welding as a value-added service.


As the company takes on new and different jobs, the Morins evaluate each part in terms of how it can best be produced. The waterjet is used for parts requiring thicker materials--1/4" stainless or thicker--and contours, as opposed to geometric shapes.


With a greater range of production capabilities, 4-M has the flexibility to be more responsive to its customers. An example is a recent job the company completed in six hours, which once would have taken three to four days. Strippit/LVD or Circle 204 for more information
COPYRIGHT 2007 Nelson Publishing
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Title Annotation:FABRICATION
Publication:Modern Applications News
Date:Jun 1, 2007
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