Amada Sheet Metal Machinery
By Barry Page
EG 6013 with light weight robotics for bending automation
HG1003 ATC – Automated tool loading unloading and robotics for automated bending
Amada has over 70 years of experience in the sheet metal industry and boasts many ‘state of the art’ products that represent Amada’s achievements and technological advances.
While sheet metal production can be divided into various categories, including laser cutting, CNC punching and bending, the use of machinery, obviously increases production, but this certainly doesn’t mean that quality and repeatability will increase or change with it.
In order to ensure that these factors are taken care of, it is important that the equipment being used is of a good quality and reliability. By relying on good quality machinery, the human error factor is removed from the equation. By combining machinery with good programming software such as the Amada AP100 (2D) as a base programming package, parts can either be drawn up or part drawings imported and manipulated as required before production starts. Various additional software modules are offered for each machine type, providing streamlined design and programming capabilities.
Sheetworks 3D Model
The Amada Sheetworks package is one of the strongest 3D sheet metal design packages available. This package utilizes all the sheet metal attributes when developing a part or assembly, including material stretch. Most other packages use the “K Factor” which is a generalized formula but not always as accurate. By using the Sheetworks software, proto-typing is done in a virtual environment which is not interfering with production on the shop floor. Once the product is designed and developed, the customer is able to view it in operation by being able to open and close doors, drawers etc. All locks, hinges, rivets, screws, forms, bends etc. are shown in the 3D model.
Nesting software is another module offered which takes the components to be produced and lays them out in the most efficient way on the sheet before processing begins. By utilizing the different settings in the nesting software, parts can be fully rotated or not rotated at all if needed. Your pre-set parameters and part shape determine the sheet utilisation percentage.
Once this programming process is completed and the parts are in the blanking process being laser cut or punched, the next step can be started – bending. With the aid of the Amada VPSS3i Bend software, all bending sequencing, tool selection, tool fitting and tool layouts are done in the office. This eliminates the need for the operator to waste time deciding on the next step needed. All information is sent to the machine via network enabling the operator to open the program with data readily supplied. The “teach function” indicates where each tool piece should be mounted as well as which bend is to be executed next. This way, the knowledge and skill remains the property of the company. All programs together with tooling info etc. is stored in the software database (SDD) for future use. When needed again, it is simply called up, transferred to the machine and used again.
Another factor which many people take for granted is the bending process. This is normally one of the last processes on parts and determines the ultimate quality of the component. If a component is blanked to a poor quality, the bending, if performed correctly, will be able to hide most impurities. Bending thus becomes an integral part of the process.
In order to obtain a quality bend, countless details have to be considered, including beam parallelism, beam stability, beam control, tooling selection and tooling quality. Obviously the most important factor is the material quality to begin with.
Amada CNC bending machinery ranges from the simpler entry level “single axis” controlled machines, to the intermediate 3 and 4 axis controlled machines and the high end 7 axis controlled machines. All these machines are built to the same quality standards, yet offer different options on operability. The Amada range of benders has evolved over time and new concepts are constantly being incorporated, which is clearly evidenced in the new “intermediate” bender called the HM Series.
This latest addition to the Amada bending line-up is available as a 100 ton x 3 meter capacity machine, equipped with the well-known Amada AMNC touch-screen control that offers a graphical interface, which allows operators to quickly retrieve programs generated by the bending software.
Tooling is tailor-made according to customers’ needs and manufactured by Amada. The superior quality of Amada press brake tooling is evident in the fact that it is through-hardened to 65 rockwell and supplied in various profiles and manageable lengths. Through-hardening ensures a far superior tool life when compared to other tools that are “case hardened”. Life expectancy of Amada press brake tooling can easily exceed 10 years if stored correctly. The newer Amada AFH (Amada Fixed Height) tooling now also allows for different profile tool pieces to be utilised together in one machine set-up – yet different shapes. All centre points are the same, too, which will assist in streamlining production by reducing tool changes drastically.
With the average tool change time on a press brake being anything from 15 minutes and above, production planning is of extreme importance. Far too often though, the production planner does not have bending experience. This results in excessive tool changes being done in one day.
Amada has looked at this inefficiency and introduced the ATC (Automatic Tool Changer) system on the HG Series of machines. This ATC holds the various tools in its magazine and loads or unloads tooling as required for each component to be bent. The ATC is able to load 3 meters of tooling within 80 seconds. This includes the rotation of any tools before insertion if needed. The setup speed makes the HG-ATC ideal for smaller batch runs as well as production runs. The operator can continue with other preparation work, while the machine “readies” itself with tooling and settings.
Tool life on the HG-ATC is extended considerably as there is no need for the operator to handle the tooling physically. The tool magazine stores all tooling and only those pieces required for the specific set-up are maneuvered in and out of position by the tool gripper. Hydraulic clamping secures the tools in place once positioned.
Speed and versatility will drastically reduce the need for multiple bending machines on the shop floor, thus reducing space, labour and electricity. As with any job, planning is important, but this machine is very forgiving when it comes to a “quick’ job in between production runs thanks to the fast tool changing capabilities.
Our Amada showroom is open for demonstrations of this machine and many others. We are confident that we will be able to increase your throughput, quality and profitability by utilizing our sheet metal solutions.
For more information, please contact Amada – Tel: 011 453-5459.