Manufacturing companies and OEMs sometimes get to a point in their growth and development where it makes sense to opt for independence from subcontract machinists. There are many reasons why, but the most common, perhaps, is that local suppliers simply do not give an appropriate or reliable level of service – slow deliveries, poor part quality, lack of capacity, or technical ability, for example. This is precisely the case with Todo Impresión, a specialist printing company based near Barcelona. The company uses a Haas VF-3 vertical machining center to make a patented robot-loaded system for printing brand names and logos on stainless-steel beer barrels.
Rubén Rueda Ruiz: We’ve designed and developed a large-scale printing machine for a particular client – a well-known German brewing company. It uses two ABB robots – one to load a beer barrel, the other to unload it. Once loaded, the barrel is held in a custom-made rotating fixture, allowing the screen-printing heads to quickly and accurately mark the barrels with brand logos and text. The machine is 100 percent our design, and we intend to market it around the world.
Up until recently, we relied on local subcontract companies to machine almost all of the main precision parts. We had a few manual mills, but until we bought the Haas VF-3, we didn’t have in-house CNC capability.
That wasn’t a good place to be. We needed flexibility, reliability, and good quality – which we couldn’t always count on. We were spending too much time resolving supplier problems. We ordered the Haas, and it was delivered in a week! The support from the Haas Factory Outlet in Spain has been incredible.
The Haas VF-3 is my very first CNC machine, although I’m an engineer with more than thirteen years of experience. We also invested in Mastercam®, which works very well with the Haas. I’ve had to learn how to use both, and I’m happy to say, it’s been a painless experience.
We’re machining ST52 steel for the structural parts of the printing machine, and 6082 aluminium for many of the other parts, such as base plates to attach the barrel grippers to the robots. We also machine some PE and nylon parts, for the maintenance-free guide ways, for example.
We machine a wide range of different parts in different sizes, so the Haas Wireless Intuitive Probing System (WIPS) has been very useful. We can keep set-up times to a minimum, and since I’ve had to learn programming on the job, it’s been a huge help.
As a business, we have three priorities: service to customers, controlling part costs, and meeting delivery dates. Since we bought the Haas and brought the machining in-house, we feel confident we can consistently achieve all of them.
We now machine more than 90 percent of all our parts. Some of them only just fit the VF-3; perhaps we should have bought a bigger one! We probably will, but in the meantime, I’m working the machine 12 hours a day until, at some point, we employ an operator to take over.
Haas was recommended to us by several local companies who already use their machines. We took their advice, and I’m happy to say, we made the right decision. Things are moving fast for our company, but we now feel like we have the control, confidence, and independence we need.