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Stamping

Fagor Arrasate helps fabricators improve energy efficiency, cycle time and reliability

By Lynn Stanley

Above: Fagor Arrasate has patented a force control system and introduced the first servo-mechanical press for hot forming of metal sheets.

Sensorization and servo-mechanical advances help fabricators’ energy efficiency, cycle time and reliability

October 2018 - Baby Boomers continue to exit the workforce but a lack of skilled labor is one of many variables that impact manufacturers. Research conducted by Google and Millward Brown Digital found that younger, more tech-savvy, hyper-connected professionals are the new decision makers in many organizations. The trend makes a digitized, customer-centric approach more important than ever.

In addition, stamping suppliers are increasing their focus on high-tech automation, quality control and efficiency tools to remain cost-competitive in the wake of steel and aluminum tariffs.

Spain’s Fagor Arrasate has weathered the ebb and flow of market changes and is equipping customers to respond to an uptick in stampings that has increased 63 percent over its historical average in the U.S. alone.

FFJ 1018 stamping image1

Automaker SEAT S.A., a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, installed a Fagor Arrasate servo-press line at its Martorell, Spain, factory.

A 2018 Thomas Index Report surveyed metal stampers, who report that their workloads are rivaling levels seen before the 2008 recession.

“The client is the nucleus of everything we do,” says David Pascual, CEO for Fagor Arrasate S. Coop. The machinery builder is a founding member of the Mondragon Corp., one of Europe’s largest industrial corporations. Aside from mechanical, hydraulic and servo-driven stamping presses from 64 tons to more than 15,000 tons, Fagor Arrasate designs, manufactures and supplies a range of metalforming machine equipment that include slitting, cut-to-length, multi-blanking, pickling, painting and galvanizing lines and rolling mills. The company has facilities in the U.S., Germany, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and China.

Connections

“The sensorization of machines and data analysis allows us to increasingly predict behavior in the future, which results in higher performance of the machines and equipment,” Pascual says. “Predictive maintenance is a reality and 4.0 Smart Connect, our own development, allows us to tailor solutions to the needs of the client.”

A Smart Connect integrated maintenance system makes it possible for stampers to predict future maintenance needs on a machine, so it can develop contingency plans that don’t interfere with normal production. In addition, the system protects the management of information and ensures an accurate data exchange.

Visual Stamp and Syncro 3D software also support smart functions in Fagor Arrasate presses. Syncro 3D uses an off-line virtual model that calculates the paths, appropriate speed of the press and transfer to prevent possible collisions. The ability to simulate an entire cycle helps diligent operators to increase press rates and output.

Visual Stamp makes monitoring, control and diagnosis of the stamping process in real time through an independent cyber-physical system integrated into the press control. This allows the customer to ensure the press is working in ideal conditions.

Fagor Arrasate research and development engineers have also considered more efficient energy consumption measures for stampers. The equipment maker developed a servo-mechanical cushion that reduces energy consumption by 75 percent when compared to a hydraulic cushion. Technicians replaced the hydraulic cylinder in a press with a rack-and-pinion mechanical drive system activated by an electric motor. As a result, the energy used to form a part is recouped instead of being lost.

“Hydraulic cushions have been used for two decades to prevent wrinkles during part forming,” says Phil Conway, North American Director at Fagor Arrasate USA Inc., Willowbrook, Illinois. “Typically energy used to stamp a part is lost in the form of heat buildup in the hydraulic unit’s oil, which then has to be replaced by cooling oil to ready it for the next cycle.”

During deep drawing operations, the cushion prevents wrinkles from forming around the edges of the part by pressing down on the contour of the blank. Because material flows in a controlled state, the potential for wrinkling is eliminated.

FFJ 1018 stamping image2

Cross section of Fagor Arrasate servo-mechanical cushion, which reduces energy consumption by 75 percent when compared to a hydraulic cushion.

New terrain

Achieving greater precision when synchronizing the servo-mechanical cushion with the main drive of the press means clients can simplify pit installation and may be able to perform less maintenance. Stampers can expect to recoup their investment in two years.

With its mechanical press business, Fagor Arrasate has patented a force control system and the first servo-mechanical press for hot forming. The press permits higher speeds with lower energy consumption then hydraulic presses. Large dimensions (up to 3,600 mm by 2,500 mm), a multilevel furnace and an automatic feeding system are just a few of the features.

“Until recently, hydraulic presses were the standard for hot stamping,” says Conway. “Servo-mechanical presses have entered the terrain because of improved energy efficiency, cycle time and reliability.”

Fagor Arrasate engineers view development of new cross-cutting technologies as particularly important for the automotive industry, which is designing new vehicle platforms adapted to alternative sources of energy.

“Innovation in hot stamping is giving rise to new steels susceptible to continuous processing with multi-step transfer systems,” says Pascual. “Progress in aluminum processing lines, the analysis of high- and semi-high-temperature aluminum deformation—which [describes] the metal’s behavior—is allowing us to provide optimized solutions for processing and shaping these materials.”

Madrid, Spain-based automotive supplier Gestamp chose Fagor Arrasate to install a hybrid servo G2 line with a servo tryout press. The company will use the equipment to stamp steel and aluminum parts for Jaguar Land Rover.

Following the success of a Fagor Arrasate servo press line installed in 2015, Gestamp opted for a full servo press line, which consists of six presses with a combined capacity of 10,228 tons. The lead press has a capacity of 2,800 tons with a CNC cushion of eight points and 600 tons. The new G2 mechanical servo press line will help Gestamp boost die performance for reduced downtime and higher production output. The presses will produce complex heavy-duty automotive parts.

“We are at the technological forefront but we do not settle,” says Pascual. “We continue to invest resources in research and development because we must not forget that innovation is the key. Only from innovation can you provide clients with added value.” FFJ

Sources

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