A shining example
Anyone who works ’round the clock, in three-shift operations, needs machines that offer absolute reliability by incorporating extensive automation. Regiolux puts its faith in the TruPunch 5000 with the active die.
Illumination systems from the Bavarian town of Königsberg create brilliant lighting environments — in classrooms and conference rooms just as much as in offices and athletic facilities. To achieve the best quality in its housings Regiolux, the luminaire manufacturer, has always placed its bets on in-house sheet metal processing. Through to 2008 the metalworking shop used two elderly punch presses and worked directly from the coil. With a larger order in the offing, it became clear that capacities had to be expanded. “The resulting need for three-shift operations and weekend work and preparing for the future meant that a highly productive, automated system would have to be obtained.
These demands are all met by a TruPunch 5000 with active die and SheetMaster,” reports Michael Kohlmann, production manager at Regiolux. A good year after the system was commissioned in April of 2009, those in charge at Regiolux look back favorably.
Scratch-free and highly productive
The TruPunch 5000 chosen as the replacement for one of two TRUMATIC 200 R units offers several thoroughly convincing features and sets new standards in sheet metal processing. Friedrich Brotzeller, foreman in sheet metal operations: “The machine is distinguished by enormous productivity and a high degree of automation.” One outstanding extra, according to Brotzeller, is the active die. This machinery option enables scratch-free processing and opens new options for sheet metal punching and forming.
Having used the punch for twelve months now, operations scheduler Markus Mauer looks back: “Expanded automation makes us far more productive than when we used our two old machines. The changeover from machining individual sheets to manufacturing from the coil is now much quicker. What’s more, new products can be introduced to the manufacturing line with short lead times.”
The active die is indispensable for many components. “Normally a fixed die can scratch the workpiece. This might happen when removing the pieces or if there is build-up along the edges of the die. The reject rates for our pre-painted products and those made of aluminum or mirror-finish material were far too high,” Michael Kohlmann explains. “The surface of the aluminum reflectors for strip-lights, for instance, has to be absolutely perfect. That is a quality specification for our final products.” Foreman Friedrich Brotzeller adds: “A film on one side protects the products from damage after production, while on their way to the customer. But during production the other surface is in direct contact with the machine and has no protective film.”
Since the active die is retracted each time the sheet is positioned or moved, the lower side remains scratch-free. Thanks to the use of the active die Regiolux has been able to cut the reject rate by a good twenty percent. In the TruPunch 5000, the sheet no longer has to be lifted by the die but instead lies flat and plane on the surface; the tooling can work closer to the clamps. This means less scrap and, in turn, lower materials costs.
Reduced programming times
Shortening the time needed to complete any given job has resulted in further savings for the company. The costs per part in reflector production have been reduced by a total of thirty percent. Since the active die can be retracted, there is no risk of parts jamming during forming or when cutting out sections. Such problems used to regularly cause production stoppages, but they have become a thing of the past. Programming is now considerably easier, too. The fixed die is no longer a constraining factor since it is not necessary to allow vertical clearance.“ The programming times for components formed by downward motion have dropped by about twenty percent,” according to Markus Mauer.
To date Regiolux has used the active die only occasionally for forming operations, but the potential has certainly been recognized. Sheet metal parts can be fashioned with an upward forming stroke. This has opened up vast new options for the lamp maker, one example being integrated grounding lugs. Michael Kohlmann, Markus Mauer and Friedrich Brotzeller are convinced that they did the right thing in selecting the TruPunch 5000. Michael Kohlmann: “We at Regiolux aim, in principle, to amortize machinery investments within two to three years. The quality of the parts manufactured with the TruPunch 5000 and the volumes it can turn out certainly indicate that this is an attainable goal.”
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in summer 2010.