Optimum clamping solution through solution-orientated production partners

Just in time for the largest order in the company's history, a specialist mechanical engineering manufacturer comes up with the idea of using vacuum clamping technology. This allows many aluminium workpieces to be produced in a single clamping operation, where otherwise individual blanks had to be clamped. With this, the clamping experts at AMF have virtually pulverised the set-up time.

Vacuum clamping technology is a great help for the production of many different aluminium workpieces at a Thuringian specialist mechanical engineering manufacturer. It makes the production of often small series or individual parts much easier. And the customer reports that they have reduced set-up times by around 95%. The customer is a specialist mechanical engineering manufacturer that has specialised in complete, automated robot systems including quality and presence checks using the latest camera technology. In doing so, each order is an individual solution. The idea of manufacturing components in series for this can therefore be forgotten right away.

There are no large series of components

However, almost all parts, sub-assemblies and fabrications from design to installation - mostly made of aluminium - are produced in-house. And in this way, the machiners use a gantry milling machine and two CNC machining centres to produce every single part - from small to large - with a precise fit. This used to be very time-consuming, as clamping the individual blanks takes a significant amount of time and is very laborious. Each individual part requires its own special clamping solution to ensure that the cutter reaches all the necessary sides and edges.

Since two Premium Line vacuum clamping plates from the clamping experts at AMF measuring 600 × 800 mm have been attached to a base plate on the machine table of the Hurco DCX 22i, those days are over. This is because - and this is the great trick with this solution - individual blanks are no longer clamped at all. Instead of that, large aluminium plates are fixed in place, from which the individual parts are milled out. This means that individual parts are no longer machined in a single clamping operation, but rather many parts are produced at once from the large plate. This already gives an idea of where the 95% saving in set-up time comes from. The designers calculate the optimum utilisation of the aluminium plate with the aim of keeping waste to a minimum.

Many different parts in one clamping

The individual parts are produced in a five-sided machining process almost to their final dimensions. 0.45 mm of the aluminium plate remains. This is necessary to prevent the vacuum from breaking. The parts are later broken out of the plate, deburred and - if necessary - finished. Individual areas on the vacuum clamping plate can be marked out with the corresponding sealing cord if the entire area is not required. The sealing cords also compensate for minor unevenness on the workpiece surface.

The vacuum required for clamping the aluminium plate is generated by the AMF rotary vane vacuum pump. It ensures reliable continuous operation of the clamping plates used. Because the pump is very compact, it can be installed directly on the machine. A motor power of 0.75 kW suction performance of and 20 m3/h generate a output pressure of 1.5 mbar. Two Venturi nozzles are also integrated into the Premium Line plate, which suck in a maximum of 48.8 l/min of suction volume against the atmosphere at an operating pressure of 3.5 bar and generate a 92 per cent vacuum. The two vacuum clamping plates used can be connected to each other and then operated via a common connection. 

Conclusion: Thinking in solutions brings great benefits

The customer's production process has achieved enormous improvements and time savings with the vacuum clamping technology. As a production partner that thinks along with the us, AMF has not just provided a product, but a solution.