When Mike Meredith, owner of Workshop Wire Cut and Machine (Aurora, Ohio) saw the Chevalier (Santa Fe Springs, California) 1418 vertical machining center (VMC), the proverbial light bulb flashed for him. This five-person, 3,000-square-foot shop had been focused on wire EDM, servicing mostly mold/die builders in the Cleveland area.
Mr. Meredith had spent 12 years in mold making and had a comfort zone in this market segment. “As the market changed, however, we broadened our customer base, and we knew diversity was our key to future success. So, we began offering general machining services, along with our wire EDM, so we could do prototype, short and long production runs for customers,” he says of his shop, which was started in May 2000.
“We were prepared to offer wire EDM, CNC milling, manual milling, lathe work, grinding and EDM drilling, supported by our various machines, but something was needed to set us apart from the other shops,” says Mr. Meredith.
Workshop purchased the Chevalier 1418 VMC, which features the Sinumerik 802D control, from Siemens Energy & Automation Inc.—Motion Control Systems (Elk Grove Village, Illinois).
The VMC features an 8,000 rpm spindle speed (10,000 rpm option) and rapid traverse and an 18-inch (X) by 14-inch (Y) by 15-inch (Z) work envelope. It has a 331-pound workpiece capacity, 1,417-ipm XYZ rapids, rigid tapping, 12-station carousel ATC, rear exit chip auger and automatic chip flusher. It also offers ±0.0002-inch positioning accuracy and ±0.0001-inch repeatability on 30- or 40-taper tooling.
The VMC’s compact control features full CNC capability, conversational mode, G-code programmability, look-ahead and rotary axis spindle control. It also offers program simulation and a WYSIWYG feature.
Workshop runs conventional tool steels as well as more exotic alloys, such as Hastelloy and Inconel, plus aluminum and various thermoplastics, suberabrasive peek, PPS, Delrin, PVC, Nylon, Ultem and Radel. Many of this shop’s customers are involved in the medical industry, and Workshop also services special machine builders and industrial pump manufacturers.
“The parts we produce are used in various industries, including MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines, where much of our plastics go,” Mr. Meredith continues. “Our tool steel parts runs are used in molds, dies and special machinery. Often, we take jobs others can’t handle, and the machines we have in our shop are a key reason why.”
In using the Chevalier 1418 VMC, Mr. Meredith observes, “This machine has made a substantial impact on the work product at our shop, because it can do so much. The Siemens control is especially useful. It controls both axis and spindle movement on the machine. We use a PC and floppy disks for long-term data storage via the RS-232 port through a DNC cable. The control has ample storage with its 256 kB part program memory, which eliminates our needing to download the programs we use frequently. This keeps the PC available, instead of using the DNC program to download directly to the cut.
“With other controls we looked at, this function was not possible. Because of the variety in our work and our runs, the combination of features on the Chevalier 1418 VMC and Siemens Sinumerik 802D was a perfect fit for Workshop.”
Mr. Meredith notes that the graphic simulation is helpful in catching errors, as is the look-ahead feature. The controls also have direct menus for setup to access the tool memory and machine offsets. This makes setup far less complicated and reduces operator workload.