If you're familiar with the name Fagor Automation in this country, chances are pretty good that digital readouts come to mind. But this large electronics firm from Spain is also one of the world's larger players in CNC and related technology, and determined to take a higher profile with those products here.
Actually, they've already made significant strides in this regard. According to Juan Aguriano, president and general manager of Fagor Automation USA (Elk Grove Village, Illinois), Fagor currently ranks first in CNCs imported to the U.S from Europe. Moreover, they've introduced five new families of controls over the last few years, a period in which the company has increased sales here some threefold.
Fagor's reputation is based on providing good value for a low price, which has been central to their recent successes. However, the technical merits of the company's CNC products have been established for quite some time. The first entree into the U.S. came in 1983 when the company was approached by General Electric who wanted to sell one of Fagor's CNC products under the GE brand name. That control became the well-known GE Mark Century One, for which Fagor was the sole manufacturer.
Much more recently, this year in fact, Fagor announced major enhancements to the 8050 series of high-performance controls. With a 32-bit CPU and math co-processor option, the CNCs can deliver 2-millisecond sampling and 4.5 millisecond block processing times. Also, the control has the capability to interface with a Renishaw SP2 continuous tracing probe so that 3D surface geometry can be digitized at speeds of up to 13 feet per minute with data acquisition rates up to 500 points per second. The control also features a new 50-block look-ahead function that automatically calculates acceleration and deceleration moments to enable a machine tool to contour more accurately and smoothly at high feed rates.
Also new with the 8050 series is a shop floor programming option. In the conversational mode, the CNC is programmed via an intuitive CAM-like interface with operations defined on an icon-based keyboard. Or, conventional G-code programs can be run on the control as well.
The new CNC capabilities are part of an overall product development strategy that encompasses a line that includes other CNC products, DROs, digital counters, linear and rotary feedback systems, CNC servo systems and PLCs. Indeed, Mr. Aguriano says that Fagor is currently devoting some 15 percent of its revenues to research and development. But it is also the way that Fagor is approaching the market here and around the world that he believes will enhance the company's competitiveness. Fagor stresses the concept of "global service" meaning that company technicians need to be able to both properly apply and service their products all over the world--an important issue for a company that exports over 70 percent of production to some 50 countries. This approach certainly helps with products sold directly to the end market, such as DROs and CNC retrofit packages, but also helps original equipment manufacturers apply Fagor products correctly and provides assurances that the controls on the OEM's machines will be adequately supported regardless of where those machines will eventually be sold.