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Germany’s First Electric Car Factory Sets New Standards

Germany’s First Electric Car Factory Sets New Standards

The world’s largest car manufacturer is getting ready for the future. Over the next few years, Volkswagen will make a radical transition to e-mobility, and the Volkswagen plant in Zwickau, Germany, will play a key role in this process. With the ID.3 model, the blueprint for the new generation of electric cars is being created here. And the bending experts from Bystronic are also on board. Article by Stefan Jermann, Bystronic.

Much of what happens in the automotive industry goes on behind closed doors. This includes the realignment of the manufacturers towards e-mobility. But when German Chancellor Angela Merkel herself fires the starting signal for the production of the new Volkswagen ID.3, everything is already very much in the open. This was the case in Zwickau, Germany, where the production lines for what could be the most ambitious current project in the entire automotive industry kicked into motion.

The ID.3 is more than just a new model; this new electric car embodies the future of Volkswagen and is intended to usher in a new era. The group has set itself the objective of becoming the leading global manufacturer of e-vehicles. And this mission is being pursued with a vengeance. With investments of €1.2 billion, Volkswagen wants to turn Zwickau into the home of Europe’s largest e-mobility factory. This year, more than 330,000 electric cars are scheduled to roll off the production line—a total of six models from the Volkswagen, Audi, and Seat brands.

Platform for the Whole Family

So far, sales of electric cars have been sluggish. The ID.3 is designed to change this—thanks to an attractive price of below €30,000, rapid charging capability, and a range of up to 550km. Jürgen Stackmann, a member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, promises, “The size of a Golf on the outside, the space of a Passat on the inside, and the acceleration of a GTI.” 

The ID.3, the first model in the ID. family, forms the basis for a zero-emission generation of vehicles. The modular electric drive matrix—MEB for short—offers the necessary scalability from the compact car to the bus. By 2022, it will be incorporated in 27 models of four Group brands. The “ID.R Pikes Peak” prototype has already proven that the sky is the limit. On June 24, 2018, at the mountain race in the United States bearing the same name, the supercar with its 680-horsepower electric four-wheel drive made motor racing history and beat the previous record set by rally legend Sebastien Loeb by a large margin. This sports car will remain a racetrack dream, but it shows in an impressive way what the ID family can achieve.

76-second Cycle Time

Kati Langer stands in Production Hall No. 12. She is inspecting the Xpert 40, which is connected to two Kuka robots in a production cell. The passionate Bystronic saleswoman, who has accompanied the ID.3 project with Volkswagen from the outset, is proud of the system. In order to seamlessly integrate the bending systems into Volkswagen’s workflows, we had to overcome a number of structural challenges,” she explains while we watch the two bending robots at work. 

The first robot removes the part from the container station and deposits it on the centring system. The second robot picks it up, swiftly feeds it to the bending machine, and performs the first of two bending steps. Then it returns the part to the centring system and the first robot completes the remaining bending steps. Subsequently, a stationary system welds two ball nuts to the part. The gripper then picks up the part and places it on the conveyor belt. 

The entire process takes exactly 76 sec. Watching the robots perform their bending sequences is a genuine delight. If you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes, you would hardly believe how elegantly and nimbly the two robots work hand in hand—or rather, gripper in gripper. Subsequently, the bent part is installed in the support structure of the chassis where it stabilizes the undercarriage. A second fully-automatic bending cell manufactures a component that is installed at the front of the car chassis.

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Bystronic Opens New Subsidiary In Thailand

Bystronic Opens New Subsidiary In Thailand

In the immediate vicinity of the international airport Suvarnabhumi in the east of the Thai capital Bangkok, Bystronic has opened a new office as of March 22, 2021. With the new national company, Bystronic is moving closer to its Thai customers and can provide them with even more direct support with a motivated team.

After a decade of partnership with the local representative, the newly founded Bystronic Thailand Co. Ltd. enables Bystronic to work even more closely with customers in Thailand, to support them even more directly, and to advance into segments that could not be tackled before. The experienced team of engineers has been supporting customers for years. A new and dynamic sales team will further increase the awareness of the Bystronic brand in Thailand.

The company is headed by General Manager Mr. Thitipan Hirunpataya. He was instrumental in setting up the Thai subsidiary, building up the sales and service teams and fine-tuning new operating strategies to meet the needs of the market.

“The integral part of a local office is the direct link to our customers. We get to know their manufacturing needs, we offer solutions, we listen to their feedback and we are able to offer them the best service directly from the manufacturer”, said Thitipan Hirunpataya.

With the opening of the new office in Bangkok, Bystronic will have a further sales and service center in an important region for Bystronic. Sales, service, consulting and hotline services form the core services. In addition, the location will also include software and hardware training as well as spare parts. Customers will thus benefit from the comprehensive know-how of the leading technology provider.

 

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LVD Introduces Robotic Bending System Featuring Automated Tool Changing Press Brake

LVD Introduces Robotic Bending System Featuring Automated Tool Changing Press Brake

LVD introduces Ulti-Form, a new robotic bending system featuring an automated tool changing press brake. Ulti-Form follows the success of LVD’s Dyna-Cell robotic bending cell and takes automated bending technology a step further by incorporating an automated tool changing press brake to keep bending productivity at its peak, handling both small batches and long production runs efficiently with minimal changeover time. Ulti-Form delivers high productivity bending with unattended operation.

TOOLCELL-INSPIRED DESIGN

Ulti-Form features a 135-ton press brake designed using the ToolCell platform, LVD’s top-rated automated tool changing press brake, integrated with an industrial robot. The press brake houses a built-in tooling warehouse and uses a gripper mechanism in the machine’s backgauge fingers to quickly and efficiently change tools. The press brake and robot work together in synergy to keep changeover time to a minimum. As the robot picks the first workpiece from the input stack and centers it, the press brake completes the tool change. Ulti-Form handles parts from 50 x 100 mm up to 1200 x 800 mm weighing up to 15 kgs.

NO ROBOT TEACHING

Ulti-Form is automation that’s easy to use with a fast “art to part” process thanks to LVD’s powerful programming wizard. Programming of both the press brake and robot is handled offline and no robot teaching is required. CADMAN-B software automatically calculates the optimal bend program. The robot software imports all bending data and automatically calculates all gripper positions taking into account the gripper force, collision detection and robot reachability. It generates the fastest collision-free path for the robot across the complete bending operation. The system’s database contains all the setup information needed for the press brake and robot so that Ulti-Form is quickly readied for production.

AUTO-ADAPTING GRIPPER

The Ulti-Form robot gripper is an auto-adapting design engineered by LVD (patent pending). It has the flexibility to accommodate a number of part geometries, automatically adjusting to the workpiece size. This allows a series of different part geometries to be processed without the need for a gripper change, keeping production continuous and uninterrupted.

QUALITY ASSURANCE

Equipped with LVD’s Easy-Form Laser adaptive bending system, Ulti-Form offers automation with a quality guarantee. Real-time in-process adaptive bending technology adds advanced process stability to robotic press brake bending. The Easy-Form Laser system adapts to material variations, including sheet thickness, strain hardening and grain direction, automatically compensating for any changes to ensure consistently accurate bending results.

 

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Face-To-Face With A Master Bender

Face-To-Face With A Master Bender

Brian Smith, president, and KC Lesch, COO, at Albina Co. Inc. discuss the reasons why they selected DAVI Promau for their steel bending, rolling and fabrication processes.

Albina Co. Inc. is a family owned business servicing the steel industry since 1939. Located in Portland, Oregon, they serve all United States and Canada. Steel bending, steel rolling and steel fabrication are their bread and butter, since they curve structural steel members, various sizes of round pipe and HSS material, and plates.

With a big angle roll (MCP) and a 3 roll variable axis plate roll (MAV) purchased in the last two years, Albina started partnering with DAVI. This led us to the chance of talking with Brian Smith, president, and KC Lesch, COO, at Albina.

For starters, Brian told us about the history of the company and the recent rolling needs. “Our first angle rolls were homemade and started us on our 81-year adventure as a bending company. After many years, when we started rolling plate, our equipment allowed us to bend small and medium sized material. Last year, then, we decided to take the leap and go into the large plate rolling market and purchased a DAVI MAV, allowing us to bend 64 mm x 3 mt wide plates,” he said.

Then, he explained which criteria they use when they select a new rolling machine. Being downtime a schedule and reputation killer, quality is the first feature, since the equipment must be dependable and operational 24/7, as well as it needs to be innovative in some way. Secondly, an unmatched customer support—that is, they look for a company wanting to team up and having longevity in the industry. Moreover, easy access to spare parts and tooling and, last but not least, price (reasonable and within budget).

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Bending In The Smartphone Era

Bending in the Smartphone Era

How exactly do newer CNC press brakes create more parts than older mechanical or hydraulic press brakes? Find out in this article by Marcel Fiedler of Bystronic Inc.

Older controls required manual numerical programming.

Do you remember getting your first cellphone? What was the first thing you took out of the box and spent time with? It was probably the user manual. The cellphone was a new technology, and you needed time to understand and learn to use it. It wasn’t intuitive, and you absolutely needed that manual.

What happens when you get a new smartphone today? You unwrap the well-designed package, admire your shiny new device, turn it on, and get started. It’s probably already charged and just waiting for you to use it. That’s it. It doesn’t have any buttons or dials; the entire surface is a human-machine interface, or HMI. And it probably doesn’t have a manual. A pop-up notification shows you received a new message, and you just tap to see what it is. It’s intuitive.

Press brakes last much longer than cellphones, of course. That’s why in many job shops today you might find both mechanical and hydraulic press brakes with old controls. They can last 30 years or longer and still bend parts. Of course, just because a machine turns on does not mean it can produce parts efficiently. If you see less seasoned operators attempt to run the shop’s oldest brake, you’ll probably hear them say, “Does anybody know how to operate this machine?”

Learning and understanding bending theory is probably as challenging as learning to be a good welder. It takes time and patience to learn the differences between every machine. Those differences can be significant, especially in a bending department with both old and new equipment. They require different training strategies, all driven by technology that has literally changed how operators learn about sheet metal bending: the software and machine control.

The Pre-Smartphone Era

Imagine starting a new job as a press brake operator around the same time that you received your first cellphone, before the smartphone era. You spend most of the time going through the manual, guided by a veteran who knows the machine inside and out. You read the blueprint and adjust the machine settings as necessary. You learn how to adjust the position of each axis, determine where the backgauge needs to be, dial in the part, make other adjustments by typing nominal values into the controller, then run production until you need to switch over to the next part. Once you understand the basic concept of one machine, you walk to the next press brake and learn this process from the beginning again, with your experienced tutor and the manual right next to you.

You receive a printed blueprint, and you write the program at the machine control. You determine the material type and thickness, define your bend angle, then position your backgauges manually for each bend. If not provided on the print, backgauge positions are defined as an actual absolute value that needs to be calculated manually

.

Overall you spend 10 minutes (or longer) getting the press brake ready to make the first bend—and that old machine control gives you no indication of how to do this. By looking at the control alone, you don’t know which tools to pick or how to set them up. That’s why you need an experienced operator by your side. He knows the setups and best ways of doing it by memory. Still, even with all his knowledge and experience, he pays very close attention to his choices so he doesn’t make any mistakes. Setup is time-consuming, and the old machine control doesn’t give much if any assistance.

At some point, you’re on your own. You position the peripherals of the machine first so you know where to place the tools. What tools do you select for this job? You’d better have a quick guide or “little black book” close to the press brake to know which tools to pick.

The Smartphone Era

The control shows other relevant information, including raw material location, customer information, and due date.

Fast-forward to today. Imagine you just graduated from school and you’re now looking for your first real job in the sheet metal industry. Thing is, you aren’t on the shop floor with an experienced employee who has operated just one machine his entire career.

Instead, you’re in a classroom environment. You sit by a desktop PC with the press brake operating software installed. You don’t have a printed machine manual, and on some days you might not work with someone with decades of press brake experience, especially if they’re needed on the floor. But that’s not a problem—and here’s why.

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