Spain Continues To Focus Abroad

This year’s BIEMH show proved that Spain’s machine tool builders, as well as its tooling and accessory manufacturers, are looking outward to a growing global market.

Article From: 6/1/2006 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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What better city to host a metalworking trade show than Bilbao, which has a long metalworking history and a museum wrapped in titanium sheet? Spain’s latest machine tool technologies continue to attract worldwide attention, as does Bilbao’s Guggenheim.

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Large-part machining demonstrations are a staple at the BIEMH show. The Juaristi horizontal boring mill (below) has dual pallets that can support 10,000 kg. The largest machine at the show was the Soraluce FX milling/boring center (right), which offers up to 4,800 mm of vertical travel and 30,000 mm of horizontal table travel. ONA’s NX 6 RAM EDM unit, shown on the following page, provides a large table capacity to accommodate sizable workpieces.

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The idea behind this R&D project was to develop an underfloor lathe that could resurface train wheels without requiring them to be removed from the train’s bogie.

My second time attending Spain’s biennial BIEMH machine tool show reinforced the notion that this E.U. country is drawing greater attention from the global metalworking marketplace. The 2006 show was the second edition held at the Bilbao Exhibition Center (BEC), which co-organizes the event along with AFM, Spain’s association of machine tool manufacturers. The rain that fell in Spain during the 24th edition of this event didn’t seem to dampen the spirit or interest of international attendees. While overall attendance and exhibitor numbers were down slightly compared to 2004 (although still much higher than previous shows that were not held at BEC), the numbers of international visitors and represented countries were both higher. This seems to indicate that there is a growing interest in Spanish machine tool technology abroad.

According to Gardner Publications’ 2005 World Machine Tool Output and Consumption study, Spain ranks ninth in the world in machine tool production and tenth in machine tool consumption. AFM representatives note that the automotive and die/mold industries remain big targets for its member companies, but many would like a greater share of the burgeoning aerospace market. Some companies do have a healthy aerospace presence, such as Danobat (one of seven companies within the Danobat Group) with its line of turbine blade grinders.

The U.S. market is one that AMT, Spain’s association for machine tool accessories, components and cutting tools, would like to see its member companies penetrate. Most of the AMT companies are small to mid-sized manufacturers that export approximately 40 percent of their sales. Carlos Pulana, president of AMT and director of the Izar cutting tool company, believes that the key to success in the U.S. market hinges on identifying niche applications that the Spanish manufacturers can fill. In order to gain exposure in the United States, ten AMT member companies plan to attend IMTS 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Pulana notes that their largest U.S. distributor is American Quality Tools, located in Riverside, California.

On With The Show
Machine tool design trends of note at this year’s BIEMH show included multitasking capabilities, automatic part load and unload, an emphasis on quick tool changes and increased use of linear motor drives. There’s always a significant presence of large-capacity machines at BIEMH. Juaristi, which specializes in big boring and milling machines, displayed its multi-axis TX horizontal boring machine that has been used to produce sizeable turbine blades for hydroelectric applications. The pallets on this machine measure 1,600 by 2,500 mm and can accept workpieces as heavy as 10,000 kg. Soraluce, a Danobat Group company, had the largest machine at the show, its FX horizontal, which offers 4,800 mm of vertical spindle travel. Both companies offer various machining head configurations for their machines.

A number of enclosed machine tools were also on hand. Kondia displayed its HC-400 dual-pallet HMC with optional vertical storage unit that can hold up to 400 kg per pallet. Zayer featured its Memphis 5000 high speed gantry-type milling machine designed for die/mold work. This machine uses rack and pinion drives, rather than ballscrews, for longitudinal and cross-movements.

ONA, the world’s oldest EDM equipment manufacturer, continues to focus on large-capacity EDM applications. Its AE1000 RAM unit accepts a maximum workpiece size of 1,950 by 1,600 by 600 mm and weight of 10,000 kg.

Trimek offered demonstrations of its touch-probe and scanning CMM capabilities. The company emphasized the importance of marrying inspection with production. Rather than simply inspecting workpieces for quality control, the company believes shops should focus on process inspection by noting how measurement data is trending. Trimek is represented in the United States by GBI Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio).

Attendees at the most recent SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in the United States may have noticed polishing equipment from Autopulit. The company, which manufacturers customizable CNC grinding and polishing machines, recognizes tremendous opportunities in the automotive aftermarket, especially in the United States.

Visitors to this year’s show also noticed a couple of company mergers and acquisitions. Nicolás Correa and Anayak have recently combined under the Nicolás Correa Group. Those machines will continue to be sold under their individual brands. In addition, the Danobat Group has recently added Overbeck ID grinding machines to its stable of companies.

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