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Turret punch/laser: an investment in fabricating excellence. (Turret Presses).

Fab-All Manufacturing, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, is a family-owned and operated metal fabricating business with a very simple corporate goal: becoming the best sheet metal fabricator in the industry for both quality and service.

The company was founded in 1985 by Sig Adolf and his son Ron to build marine heating products. The Adolfs began producing and selling marine heaters throughout North America and Europe with a great deal of success.

Because of the limited seasonal nature of its product line, they soon looked to expand into other markets. Their first facility had 1,500 square feet, which was expanded to 6,000 square feet in 1995. Today, the company occupies a building with 20,000 square feet, numbers 40 employees and provides everything from design engineering to manufacturing and services to such industries as electronics, trucking, high technology, security, marine, lighting, forestry, food and beverage, and military.

"As necessary, we've continuously upgraded our facilities, equipment and staff to become more efficient," explains Ron Adolf. "We were also earning a reputation for exceptional service to our customers. This commitment has helped us grow no less than 20 percent each year. In some years, we grew as much as 100 percent."

Move to turret

In its early days, the fledgling company had only the most basic fabrication equipment--a small hydraulic shear, hand brake, lathe and the like. In 1989, Fab-All added the production capability of turret press technology when the company purchased its first CNC turret punch presses, both previously-owned mechanical models.

In 1997, the company purchased its first new CNC turret punch press, a TP 2015 hydraulic turret punch press from Finn-Power International. "This was a real turning point for us," explains Ron Adolf. "We had reached a plateau and the Finn-Power hydraulic turret punch press allowed us to continue to grow. We also learned the potential of this kind of state-of-the-art equipment compared to the older mechanical machines we were using."

The TP 2015 dramatically increased Fab-All's sheet metal punching capabilities, but a few years later the company had to meet additional fabrication requirements for its customers.

"While we always needed to increase our punching capacity, we also realized that we were outsourcing an increasing number of laser parts," Adolf says. "The demands that our customers put on us in terms of complexity of parts dictated a laser. We simply couldn't fabricate all the parts required of us with the turret punch press."

Cutting it with lasers

To satisfy this need for increased punching and laser cutting, Fab-All purchased the Finn-Power Laser Punch (L + P) in 1999--the first West Coast fabricator to have this type of equipment. With the L + P Fab-All acquired proven technology that integrates punching, forming, tapping and laser cutting in a single unit for the most varied sheet metalworking operations.

The Finn-Power L + P enables a fabricator to use the turret punch press where it is easier or faster and the laser where it is most effective. The laser/punch machine allows the user to look at the parts, the materials, the time and the overall cost of the parts to determine the optimum process for every production run.

"The L + P is a beautifully designed machine," says Adolph. "My father's engineering background allowed him to look underneath the skin to see what the machine was all about. When you look behind all the panels--how it's put together--it is very obvious that this machine is superior, and had many features we could utilize in servicing the needs of our customers."

The L + P consists of a F-6 hydraulic turret punch press with a laser that has a 60" (1,500 mm) Y-axis and a 100" (2,500 mm) X-axis and a 2.5kW laser. "The L + P allows us to automatically load and unload material. We can now process full-sized sheets and no longer need to shear the material in blanks. We have dramatically cut costs on material handling, shearing and such secondary operations as deburring and forming," Adolf says.

The L + P's high-pressure Triagon 2.5kW [CO.sub.2] laser enables Fab-All to optimize cutting speed for stainless steel and aluminum and produce excellent edge quality. Materials that can be laser cut include 8 mm (0.314") cold rolled steel, 6 mm (0.236") aluminum and 8 mm (0.314") stainless steel. The focal length lens can be changed in seconds without tools using cartridges that are available in 5" (standard), 3.75" and 7.5".

According to the Adolphs, piece part costs have been reduced dramatically. Punching is faster and indirect labor assigned to setup and punching and manual operations has been reduced. In addition, full sheets can be used, eliminating the need for shear-to-size blanks being processed. Outfitted with a loading system, the L + P is capable of unmanned operation from load, punch, upform, laser cut and sorting of parts in one machine.

The O-frame of the turret punch press is separate from the laser, assuring that no vibration is transferred to the laser. Up to 10 auto-index, forming and Multi-Tool holders can be installed in a Finn-Power turret. "Fab-All has four Multi-Tool holders--a 6-, 8-, 10- and a 24-station that help cut tool-changing time between setups," explains Adolf. With the Multi-Tool system, tool change time within the station is virtually eliminated.

Indexing and upforming

Finn-Power's auto-index system precisely rotates the punch and die in their tool holders using a single A.C. servomotor system. Rotation in 0.001-degree programmable increments gives the machine the ability to rotate infinitely beyond 360 degrees, thus allowing the system to automatically select the shortest path to rotate to a programmed angle input into the NC programs quickly and reliably. Fab-All has two 3 1/2" and one 2" auto-index stations.

The auto-index system is built rigidly into the upper and lower frame of the press and engages the auto-index tool holders for tool rotation. This system allows the addition or change of index stations or Multi-Tool stations at anytime. In addition, the Finn-Power turret can run any new wheel technology and marking tools available from Mate Precision Tooling or Wilson Tool International. There are no additional options (i.e. holders or software) needed to run these technologies.

Finn-Power's upforming system allows full tonnage throughout the punch stroke in an upward movement in the turret, providing maximum flexibility in achieving various forming options. Unlike conventional forming operations, the Finn-Power upforming solution provides the capability of the die to never rest higher than the table level when the sheet is being moved, thus eliminating machine downtime due to sheet crashing.

"We are using the upforming feature for embossing, bridge lances, louvers and extrusions," adds Adolf. "The upforming allows us to do deeper forming in this machine." The even positioning of the die also provides greater limits in forming height (up to 0.63" or 16mm in total height) and prevents free sheet movement and scratches on the lower sheet surface. This is of particular importance with coated materials or materials where cosmetic appearance is critical.

"In addition to the laser market, the L + P has opened a variety of new markets to Fab-All," says Adolf. "We can offer the advantages of the punch/laser approach to parts. We now do a great deal of prototype work and are efficiently processing jobs we would not have dreamed of taking prior to the L + P. We can process up to 5' x 10' sheets, and as a result, we recently began making large cabinets for the trucking industry.

"Nearly 75 percent of all parts that we make are fabricated on the Finn-Power L + P. Eventually, we expect this number to rise to 90 percent," says Adolph. With its proven commitment to investing in more efficient fabrication machines and manufacturing methods, Fab-All is drawing closer to this ambitious goal.

Finn-Power International Inc., Schaumburg, IL, or circle 202
COPYRIGHT 2002 Nelson Publishing
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Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Feb 1, 2002
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