Precision tool fabrication with Sinumerik

Zinner's production head describes his experience when switching over to a new CNC system

How quickly can I switch over to Sinumerik? Is Sinumerik the suitable CNC for toolmaking? What functions can Sinumerik offer when it comes to workshop programming for universal milling centers? What perspectives do I have with Sinumerik? These were precisely the questions that Paul Epner was confronted with when he started his new job as production head.

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Tools for the widest range of machining operations

ZINNER GmbH Präzisionswerkzeuge was founded back in 1977 and is a medium-sized company located in Nuremberg. Zinner fabricates high quality grooving, turning, drilling and milling tools that it markets around the globe. The wide range of products extends from approximately 50,000 articles in its standard program up to semi-standard and special tools specifically crafted to customer specifications. The core of Zinner's tools is the self clamping system with force deflection and fixed stop.

High production depth

When manufacturing tools the production depth involved is almost 100%. Only the blanks for the cutting edge materials are procured, for example manufactured out of polycrystalline cubic boron nitride (CBN). However, insert seats and milling geometries are stamped on their own grinding machines.

Zinner and Sinumerik

There was just one basic requirement when Zinner was about to purchase its first CNC machine tool. The potential operator had learned on a CNC that is no longer available on the market. As this CNC was purely programmed in ISO, DIN/ISO was also a key requirement for the new CNC. This made Sinumerik one of the leading contenders. The decisive factor in Sinumerik being ultimately selected came down to the fact that a machine equipped with Sinumerik was simply the fastest available at the time. In addition to the specified DIN/ISO programming, this Doosan milling center equipped with Sinumerik 828D also had ShopMill onboard – the graphic interactive machining step programming. Machine operators quickly latched on to this innovative workshop programming feature, so much so, that the next Spinner machines were also ordered with Sinumerik Operate and ShopMill.

Workshop programming is now standard for prismatic workpieces

In the meantime, programming prismatic workpieces exclusively using ShopMill has become the norm. Only more complex 3D contours, for example free-form surfaces, are programmed using a CAD/CAM system from Hypermill. Programming using ShopMill at the machine and using CAM in production planning justifiably coexist in the machining landscape.

The switchover to Sinumerik from a personal perspective

Sinumerik was already established as the new production manager joined the Zinner team. "In my last job in CNC production planning for a job shop involved in aerospace, motorsport and medical systems, I only worked with a known milling control system from a manufacturer based in southern Germany. Now, as production manager, I am responsible for production planning and work preparation at Zinner. In this function, I frequently have to write CNC program code myself. When it came to CNC operation and programming, I essentially had to mentally start from the beginning,” explained Paul Epner. "I was surprised just how simple and quick it was to become familiar with Sinumerik Operate, and more specifically, the graphic machining step programming. I was able to intuitively incorporate my milling process know-how into Sinumerik, i.e. the machining steps involved in generating CNC program code as well as setting up and running-in the machine. This meant that I was able to transition to the new CNC system in a very short time."

In the meantime, the functionality of ShopMill machining step programming has been fully leveraged. The integrated DXF reader allows workpiece geometries to be directly taken from the CAD. This means that even the most complex prismatic parts can be programmed in the workshop directly at the CNC.

CNC production planning in the home office

Another requirement quickly crystallized out, more specifically, to also create ShopMill programs offline. Offline not only means CNC job planning in the office close to the shopfloor, but also when working from home. "I wish I had this degree of flexibility, and I am certainly all for my team having the same," explains Paul Epner. For this reason, several SinuTrain workstations are being set up step by step. With this programming system, which is identical to the control itself, Sinumerik know-how at the machine can also be utilized 1 to 1 at the production planning computer. This represents a significant advantage since special CAD/CAM system know-how doesn't have to be further established.

The next steps

A basic decision has already been made. New machine tools will always be equipped with Sinumerik. This means that additional technologies will be able to be addressed using just one CNC. The flexibility of being able to program CNCs from home is also here to stay. "In these times where it is difficult to find trained personnel, this sort of flexibility almost has to be a given. However, the scarcity of trained personnel is also forcing us to think about further digitizing the process workflows around our machines and automating our workpiece flow using robots," states Paul Epner. Tool manufacturer Zinner is therefore right in the middle of a process to align its part production with machine tools making them fit for the future. These are all topics that Siemens Machine Tool Systems with Sinumerik and shopfloor management software are consequentially addressing – and today, are already offering innovative solutions to address them.

Author: Andreas Grözinger

CNC4you magazine, edition 2022-2

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