issue: June 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine
Taking on New Forms
Email this Article
by Lisa Bonnema, Managing Editor
Recent trends such as pre-painted metal, servoforming, and reduced inventory are changing the face of appliance metalworking, forcing suppliers to develop technologies that not only cater to these demands, but that do it better, cheaper, and faster than ever before.
As is always the
case, most production trends focus on saving the appliance
OEM money. To some appliance producers that means outsourcing
operations such as metalworking, while to others it means
purchasing high-tech automation. Whatever the approach, the
goal is to reduce any extraneous operations.
the elimination of in-house processing, customers are finding
they are receiving substantial savings and better products,"
notes John Rapkoch, director of Metallurgical Services for
Tull (Chicago, IL, U.S.). "For instance, the conversion
to pre-painted [steel] can not only save the customer money,
but may also improve the overall quality of the product. The
quality of the paint used is a much higher grade than in-house
operations, and customers can expect a cleaner steel and better
pre-treatments when not undertaking the process themselves."
Robert A. Southwell,
regional sales manager and market specialist for AIDA
Dayton Technologies Corp. (Dayton, OH, U.S.) agrees. "Appliance
producers are continuously working toward elimination of secondary
operations. This includes working more and more with pre-painted
stock and other highly cosmetic-sensitive materials such as
brushed and polished stainless steel," he says.
according to Mr. Southwell, is the increase of operations
such as in-die tapping and hardware insertion in the die.
"This trend has led to the use of larger dies and more
transfer die operations," he explains.
says that these growing requirements have led AIDA in its
development of its NST straightside press, which has preloaded
roller guides that are lube-free and, thereby, eliminate the
potential for oil contamination of the part. The NST is also
designed with larger bed areas and window openings to accommodate
larger dies, wider material, easy removal of the finished
part, and easy inclusion of an in-press transfer system.
has also played a role in advancing metalworking technologies,
making zero changeover almost a requirement, says Ricky Hansson,
senior manager of Project Management for Salvagnini
America, Inc. (Hamilton, OH, U.S.). "Instead of
turning your inventory around maybe once every 14 days, you
may need to turn it around once a day," he explains.
To allow for quick
changeover, Salvagnini’s bending machines have a tool
changing system called ALA (automatic length adjustment) that
automatically adjusts the bending length of the tool. "If
you’re bending four sides of a refrigerator door, for
instance, you must have the right length of the tool, obviously,
for the short side and the long side. And, if we have inward
bends that are going inward on the panel, we also need to
contract this segment so we are able to get off the produced
parts and are not ‘locked inside’ a produced part,"
Mr. Hansson explains.
growing trend in metalworking equipment is the use of servomotors,
which is said to bring increased accuracy and flexibility benefits
to appliance production.
to this trend, Finn-Power
International (Schaumburg, IL, U.S.) recently introduced
its E5 Work Center, a 6-axes fabricating system that features
a servomotor-driven punch mechanism. According to the supplier,
the punching process combines electrical servo technology
and mechanical power transmission, enabling strict punch control.
A servomotor, together with a lead screw, move a roll that
in turn moves the ram by means of a guiding surface.
E5 can also be equipped with an optional upforming mechanism
driven by an electrical servomotor. The mechanism is said
to provide an optimal way of forming—by lifting the
The global marketplace
is another factor driving appliance metalworking. "Introduction
from overseas competition of the servo (either electric or
hydraulic) actuated bending technologies [has allowed] for
a quick-change changeover from one radius to another,"
says Dave Peters, appliance applications manager for Atlas
Technologies, Inc. (Fenton, MI, U.S). "Atlas has
focused much of our research and development on the servo-hydraulic/adjustable
bending technologies. This technology can also incorporate
electronic checking of the formed flange.
the bend angle can be made immediately not only the current
part, but also for subsequent parts. This feature is helpful
when running both stainless and pre-painted CRS on the same
machine, since the material characteristics will vary not
only between the materials, but also between different coils
or stacks of pre-cut blanks."
producers agree that servoforming technology is certainly
one of the most recent revolutions in metalworking. This was
perhaps most evident at the Metalform 2003 show held in June,
where several suppliers released new servo-driven systems.
America Industries LLC (Wood Dale, IL, U.S.) released
the H2F an H1F a.c. servo driven mechanical straight side
and gap presses. According to the company, the machines’
slide accuracy is in microns with complete control of slide
stroke, speed, dwell, and energy.
we’ve taken out everything related to a standared flywheel-driven
mechanical press, and drive these presses with a high-torque
knuckle motion linkage driven by ‘standard’ servo
motors," explains Steve Schroder, vice president of
Sales and Marketing. "And with that come huge efficiencies
AIDA Dayton introduced
a similar concept at the recent Metalform show called ServoPro™.
"With ServoPro technology, a high-torque/low RPM servo-motor
directly drives the driveshaft of the mechanical press, eliminating
the standard main motor, flywheel, clutch arrangement,"
says Mr. Southwell.
he says, was developed specifically for the metalforming industry
to deliver the full tonnage and torque ratings of a standard
mechanical press in addition to delivering full-rated energy
at low speeds. "ServoPro allows the user to program
the stroke of the press for the specific application at hand.
This includes the stroke length, slowing down or pausing the
stroke to assist in drawing/forming applications, reducing
the velocity in blanking, hardware insertion, or in-die tapping
applications, as well as dwelling under load for coining applications.
The stroke can also be modified to significantly increase
cycle time for automation and, thereby, increase production
As this trend
of "servoforming" continues, Mr. Schroder of Komatsu
believes that it will eventually override current metalforming
technologies. "There is no question in anyone’s
minds where we are at," he says. "This will replace
all existing mechanical presses with typical motor drives
and gearing for generating energy and tonnage. This will