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Mechanical Presses

Mechanical muscle

By Lynn Stanley

Press technology balances expanding capacity with a strong bottom line

July/August 2011 - For Manufacturas Estampadas SA de CV, the technology features of a press make the difference when it comes to supporting customer requirements. “We are a job shop-type stamping plant with a very diverse customer base,” says Tony Teachworth, operations manager for Manufacturas Estampadas. “Matching the right press technology with the job is a driving factor for us in our purchase decisions.”

When work from a recreational vehicle manufacturer prompted the plant to add another 600-ton press to its fabrication division, the high-volume stamping specialist knew it needed a mechanical press with certain key features. Part configurations called for manual production, a rigorous process requiring a press with a wet clutch and a bed size large enough to support tooling with up to five stations. Manufacturas Estampadas’ search led it to a flexible, cost-effective workhorse capable of nurturing the delicate balance between expanding manufacturing capacity and a strong bottom line.

Based in the industrial state of Chihuahua, 200 miles from the U.S. border, Manufacturas Estampadas’ location allows it to maintain close communication with customers across the border and in the northern part of Mexico. The plant serves the electronics and automotive industries with high-quality processes, equipment and skilled personnel.

“We initially considered six press manufacturers, but technical features and cost concerns quickly cut the list in half,” says Teachworth. “We needed a 600-ton straightside equipped with the technical features we wanted at a price point cost effective enough for us to be able to pick up the new work and still remain profitable.”

Rigorous production
Other press manufacturers offered a 600-ton straightside with a wet clutch as part of a premium model package, according to Teachworth. SEYI-America Inc. in Walnut, Calif., was the only press builder to provide a wet clutch as a standard feature for its 600-ton straightside. “You need a wet clutch to run a large press,” he says.

“Running a dry clutch for manual operations on the scale of Manufacturas Estampadas’ workload would wear the component out fairly quickly,” says Alberto Garcia, regional sales manager for SEYI. “A flywheel-mounted wet clutch runs in an automatic transmission fluid bath that provides lubrication. Since transmission oil is automatically cycled and filtered throughout the reservoir, oil continually bathes the clutch brake linings and bearings and reduces the heat from the system for longer life and higher intermittent stroke performance. The other advantage is that there is virtually no plate wear.”

SEYI-America was formed in 2000 to create a link between the North American metalforming community and its parent company Shieh Yih Machinery. SEYI has more than 1,500 presses operating in North America with sales and service offices in California and Tennessee.

“Although SEYI’s service and support comes out of the U.S., we were very comfortable with the level of experience they offered and their capability to support our project,” says Teachworth. “SEYI’s technicians are trained in-house and have a high level of engineering knowledge. In addition, they had the press we needed in stock. That was a big advantage for us.”

In addition to running two shifts on the SEYI straightside, which was installed in 2011, Manufacturas Estampadas changes dies on the press four to six times a day. The smallest tool is a manual die. Sized 30 in. by 48 in., the die is used to run  thick, high-strength, low-alloy steel that requires a 600-ton press capacity. The tool produces a reinforcement part for a recreational vehicle.

The largest tool used on the press, 48 in. by 140 in., fabricates a frame for the recreational vehicle from mild steel. Comprised of five stations, the tool blanks, trims, forms and punches the part. The tool is loaded and unloaded manually with manual transfer of parts from station to station. Manned by three to four operators, the tool produces four parts per minute totaling approximately 200 frames per hour.

“We plan to use even larger tooling on this press in the future,” says Teachworth. The plant also plans to install a feedline, but Teachworth says the plant still will run a mix of manual and automated parts. “There’s a trend toward using automation to carve out additional savings, but in our case with the large framework, the cost of automation for this application would not pay for itself due to the complexity of the part configuration. Maintaining this fabrication as a manual operation gives us a greater return on investment and improved cost benefits for our customers,” he says.

The straightside’s Smart Pac 2 Wintriss press control also supports the plant’s requirement for automated and manual operations. “Manufacturas Estampadas’ operators were already familiar with the Wintriss control so the ability to provide that control made the learning curve easier for operators,” says Garcia.

Part accuracy and repeatability is enhanced by the straightside’s eight-point gibbing. “The eight-point gibbing means improved press and tool alignment with less lateral motion in the ram,” says Teachworth. “Our eight-point slide guidance system contains the slide throughout the stroke, which means clearance left to right and front to back is limited to no more than 0.003 in. to 0.004 in.,” says Garcia.

SEYI uses finite element analysis as a way to measure and test how a press structure will react to certain loading conditions. By assigning the material properties for each individual component throughout the press assembly prior to computer analysis, engineers can determine if certain structural components need to be moved or reinforced. “These iterations are repeated until the press design meets the required deflection rating allowing SEYI engineers to actually modify deflection ratings based on customer requirements for less cost than if the customer were to just start adding material,” Garcia says. “A press with lower deflection will give stampers longer tool life and better part quality while reducing their operation and maintenance costs.” The stamping plant’s 600-ton straightside offers a deflection of 0.0012 in. per foot under full tonnage across 2⁄3 of the bed area.

As part of Manufacturas Estampadas’ value-added operations, the plant builds most of its tooling and performs all its tool repairs in-house. “The straightside’s low deflection gives us greater tool life,” says Teachworth. “That was an important feature for us.”

Additional production capacity
The straightside’s drive system supports the capacity demands of Manufacturas Estampadas’ workload and also provides the capability to handle the plant’s future plans to increase workload for the press system. “Once we complete the installation of our feed line, SEYI’s drive system will allow us to achieve 10 strokes a minute more than some other straightsides on the market in the same tonnage range,” says Teachworth. “That may not sound significant at first, but we run two 10-hour shifts six to seven days a week, which means that on this press alone we could run nearly 9,000 more parts a day. In a year that adds up to an additional production capacity of approximately 1.5 million more parts.” The straightside’s center drive, built with wide suspension points for increased eccentric load capacity, is especially suited for progressive and transfer applications. Shorter cranks result in a shorter path for higher torque and power.

“Strokes per minute, bed size and shut height—the straightside’s operating parameters—gave us the flexibility to take on the new work; but its technical features, wet clutch, weight of press, low deflection and Wintriss controls outweighed other straightsides on the market and sealed the deal for our purchase decision,” Teachworth says. “As a stamping plant producing a wide range of products for a variety of customers, we can’t afford downtime. We run this press every day and have experienced no issues. For us, that’s the definition of the term value-add.” FFJ

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Sources

  • Manufacturas Estampadas SA de CV

    Chihuahua, Mexico

    phone: +52 614/481-1449

    fax +52 614/481-1961

    www.manesa.com


  • SEYI-America Inc.

    Walnut, Calif.

    phone: 909/839-1151

    fax: 909/839-1150

    www.seyiamerica.com


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