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Competitive in mold manufacturing

With its modern equipment and dedicated employees, Tebis customer SFR Formenbau processes technologically demanding projects with top quality to ensure maximum customer satisfaction. Given their secure position, they don’t have to worry about competitors in low-wage countries.

SFR Formenbau GmbH in the Swabian town of Reutlingen employs 56 people working in the automotive, small electrical devices and medical technology sectors. Thomas Deuschle, technical manager of the company, explains the positive developments in this mold-making sector in recent years. "Approximately two years ago, we shipped the first 2K mold to a satisfied customer,” says Deuschle. "3K molds have since become a standard for us, and we will soon be tackling the first 4K molds." SFR Formenbau sees its strength in complex projects that customers reward accordingly. Another example of the quality of the manufactured injection molds: a 3K mold for enclosure shells, with the produced parts ready for assembly after only two hours of initial testing. The consistent implementation of the Tebis CAD/CAM systems has also contributed to our solid reputation in the industry. These range from electrode design to simulators and the Tebis NC Viewer, providing data to the machine operators. More on this later.

  • State-of-the-art machinery

    The heart of the shop is a Röders RXP 800 DS HSC milling machine that was commissioned in late 2007. "We were fully productive after just three months, despite the fact that we had no prior experience with HSC machining," says Deuschle. The machine features 52 tools in the internal changer and another 52 tools and 36 workpiece pallets in the external tool and pallet changer. This means that when fully automated, we mainly machine steel during the day and graphite at night. The two-shift operation and a work schedule that includes a pallet and tool change on weekends ensure that the automatic Röders will not be idle. Annual run time has since reached over 6,000 hours.

  • Fast NC programming with templates

    Obviously this machine requires a lot of NC programs. And that’s the domain of Thomas Andres, who has worked with Tebis CAD/CAM systems for 13 years. He’s also managed the CAD/CAM area for SFR for the last two years. "We fully rely on the Tebis NCJob technology in NC programming," Andres explains. The NC Job List enables a fast and simple transfer of results from one project to the next. This was demonstrated impressively just a short time ago, when the company won a contract for a series of three enclosure shells. "We were able to transfer the entire NC programming for the mold for one-half of the enclosure over to the other half,” Andres says. "Then we were able to transfer it to two other enclosures." Afterwards, only a few machining operations had to be changed and completed in order to finish the three injection molds. "The gain in efficiency from the consistent implementation of this leading-edge technology was incredible," Andres confirms. "This lets us achieve series-level mold manufacturing with a lot size of just one." The interaction between NC programmers and machine operators is exemplary. "Our new NC programmers are coming from our pool of machine operators," Andres reports. "That’s because ultimately they have the most experience in milling." The NC programmers already use the Tebis Simulator during programming. The NC programs are then tested and output. Transfers of machining data is paperless, using the Tebis Viewer right next to the machine. A compact and up-to-date summary of all the necessary information on setup, machining sequence, tools and run time are always available to the machine operator.

    Some graphite blanks are waiting for machining in the tool and pallet magazine, while others have already been milled and are ready for removal.

  • Experience with many electrodes

    SFR requires a wide range of electrodes for mold manufacturing – from simple ribs to complex structure electrodes. The latter erode the entire face of a part in a single pass to yield the desired surface structure. Special care is used in milling these electrodes. Even the slightest unevenness will leave an image in the injection-molded part. The entire electrode must be machined in the same milling direction, as specified by an experienced EDM specialist who knows what's at stake. When it comes to electrodes for complex ribbing and function elements within the parts, SFR has decided on a single strategy: the electrodes are designed to be as small and as simple as possible. This reduces milling and eroding times. To accomplish this, they’ve defined NC templates and allow them to generate the milling programs for electrode manufacturing at the press of a button. However, the deflection and current level of the eroding strategy can always be optimally adapted to the cavity being produced. In the same way, individual eroding positions can be corrected until the desired tolerance has been achieved. This strategy also provides for considerably more flexibility if changes need to be made. Andres explains: "The large number of electrodes produced by this method can be easily handled with Tebis electrode management."

    This structure electrode is scanned in a single direction across the entire surface, which ensures a completely uniform surface pattern after eroding.

  • Greater productivity with Tebis Version 3.4

    SFR tested the new Tebis Version 3.4 during a three-week pilot phase. "We are very happy that the Tebis software modules for mold making are now available in a single application" – that’s how Andres summarizes his experience with the new version. "And we have many more new options for even more efficient manufacturing," Deuschle concludes, confirming his plan to expand mold manufacturing at SFR: "We are currently waiting for a new sinker EDM machine, a new milling machine and a new wire EDM machine. We're also definitely planning to add more Tebis licenses." The overall goal: more quickly and precisely achieving the desired results.

    The Tebis Simulator provides reliability in the complex kinematics of the rotary/tilt table. This is evident from the wide variety of residual stock programs available at various angles.

Overview

Quote

We fully rely on Tebis NCJob technology for our NC programming.

Features

Focus:

Consistent standardized programming and manufacturing

Benefits:

  • Faster generation of NC programs
  • Up-to-date information in the shop
  • Unattended manufacturing, flexible processing

Sector:

Mold manufacturing, Consumer products

Company:

SFR Formenbau GmbH

Location:

Reutlingen, Germany

Interviewee:

Thomas Deuschle, Thomas Andres

Position:

Technical manager, CAD/CAM division manager

Published:

2008

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