"We live and breathe micro precision each and every day," says Nicola Thibaudeau, CEO of Swiss company Micro Precision Systems, which manufactures mechanical solutions for precisely guided motion.
Take as an example the guidance system for a robot used in surgery. Mme Thibaudeau explains: "The surgeon uses a robot arm to guide a laser beam to the operating site with high precision. This robot arm features four joints and the laser can be guided within a tolerance of just 0.5 mm with arm extended. And with our ball bearing systems it can do this successfully and repeatedly. To achieve such a result, we need capable employees and superior machinery."
Image: Capable employees and superior machinery is required, says CEO Nicola Thibaudeau
The precision actuators and the respective ball bearing components on the hexapod robot above are being produced by MPS using an EvoDeco 16 turning centre from Tornos.
Image: An MPS part machined on theTornos EvoDeco 16
Eric Pesselier, head of machining, comments: "Originally we had decided in favour of a Tornos Deco 13, then we saw the EvoDeco 16 at the last Prodex show. Since this new model has several improvements over the Deco 13, we decided to investigate more extensively."
His colleague Jean-François Bilat confirms: "The machine's ergonomics compared with the Deco 13 have been significantly enhanced, and improved illumination in the working area makes it considerably easier to set up and monitor operations during production. Given our relatively small production runs, this is very important to us. Also, the fact that the control panel is now attached to the rotary arm and can support employees at the machining area for setting up and any other interventions is not only convenient but makes it also considerably easier to work on this machine."
M Pesselier continues: "Precision has always been our core competence. We very quickly saw that the EvoDeco 16 was extremely stable. Running-in following a weekend standstill has become much briefer. After producing three parts or so, this automatic turning machine has already reached high long-term thermal stability. In very general terms, this automatic turning machine demonstrates impressively high uniformity in the productive phase.
"Even with high precision turned parts we achieve a constant precision of ±5 µ, and that also applies to large production runs. Because the machine is so reliable, the operator has more freedom now to do other things."
Despite everything, the turning machine operator checks the parts every 20 minutes. Any corrections are very easily introduced during productive operation, although according to M Pesselier, "such corrections have become relatively rare on this machine".
The machining department at MPS continually manufactures parts from highly resistant chrome steels or titanium. Turned parts vary in terms of dimensions from a diameter of 2 to 13 mm and a length of 2 to 250 mm. M Pesselier explains: "Both the main and counter spindles are directly driven with synchronous motors and their removal rate is discernibly and convincingly superior. For this reason, and thanks also to the stability of this machine, we prefer to machine bigger parts on this machine with higher chip volumes. We are pleasantly surprised that it is also less noisy than other automatic turning machines even under heavy loads. "
Mr Bilat concludes: "We are fundamentally satisfied with Tornos, which is why we continue to rely on it. If there is a fault, service staff are on site within a short time and any spare parts we need also reach us promptly. This is very important for maintaining our production.
"Our production runs are between 100 and 50,000 pieces, sometimes even less, so our staff are flexibly deployed on the various automatic turning machines. A homogeneous machine shop permits this kind of rotation with no loss in production or quality. On top of that there is an important opportunity to make savings. Our machine shop allows us to use the same tools on various machines from the same manufacturer. This gives our machining department a very high degree of flexibility.
"The EvoDeco 16 meets our specifications with regard to swapping the tools around. Programming the control and operating the machine is comparable with the Deco 13, which additionally helps us maintain our advantage of being able to rotate our staff. In addition, the fact that we can use bigger bars with a diameter of 16 mm opens up new potential for future projects."
No wonder that another EvoDeco 16 has been ordered as an expansion of production capacity.
First published online