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Ensuring High Precision

Ensuring High Precision

Ingun Prüfmittelbau GmbH relies on the high-precion SwissNano technology to ensure success in the world of test and measurement. Article by Tornos.

Ernst Dietrich

Any company claiming to be the ‘market leader in test equipment manufacturing’ really has to perform excellently. Ingun Prüfmittelbau GmbH has become a synonym for permanent innovation and top-quality products boasting absolute precision. Among others, the company owes this prominent position to an intelligent manufacturing strategy and to machinery that has been selected with due care. And here, Tornos’ SwissNano machines play a key role.

In 1971, Ingun Prüfmittelbau opened its doors for business with the production of test probes and test fixtures with only only seven employees. Almost 50 years later, the staff has grown to more than 300 employees worldwide, and Ingun is now one of the leaders in test equipment manufacturing, offering a range of test probes and test fixtures used to test the electrical function of electronic components such as PCBs.

Generally, products such as harnesses used in cars, battery packs for bicycles or state-of-the-art smartphones, laptops and PCs are tested for correct operation with an Ingun product. As devices are getting smaller and smarter, it is inevitable that their PCBs are getting smaller whilst featuring more functions and closed-loop control circuits. Examining and testing PCBs are becoming more and more complex, and Ingun is making every effort to continue coping with these technical challenges as they evolve. Its spring-loaded test probes ensure reliable and consistent contact security for more than 25,000 different types. Both standardised and customised test fixtures as well as an extensive range of fixture accessories for individual upgrade are the company’s second mainstay. The company’s R&D department is working closely with the production and assembly departments to provide the customers with tailormade solutions.

Infinite Diversity

The diversity of the components to be tested requires an appropriate range of products, and Ingun takes pride in finding the adequate solution for each task. In addition to standard probes, the company also offers high-frequency and high-current test probes. The latter ensures the safe transmission of high currents with little heating as well as precise measurement thanks to minimum internal resistances.

The complexity of the test probes is not evident at first sight. They generally consist of a barrel, a spring, a plunger and a probe with gold-plated tip. It’s getting really interesting, though, when it comes to the sizes and the material to be machined. For Ingun, outer diameters smaller than 0.8mm are already large and the turning of 0.12mm cross holes and of 0.19mm studs are usual tasks. For the most part, brass as well as copper-beryllium alloys are machined. Most recently, the share of Teflon and other plastics has also been increasing as these materials have inherent insulation.

Since the time slots between engineering, prototype construction and test phase were becoming smaller and smaller, and external suppliers weren’t able to supply in short term, Ingun established its own turning shop in 2012. Even if Ingun is operating on a global scale today, the company is acting on the maxim to exclusively produce in Germany to ensure its high-quality standards.

At the Forefront of Technological Development

From the very beginning, Ingun’s turning shop has been planned as a high-end solution for the development of new technologies. In close collaboration with design engineers, innovative solutions are sought and exceptional technologies are experimented with. The standard just isn’t good enough for Ingun’s turning shop. Here, the benchmark is set. Only until a process is running steadily will it be outsourced to external local suppliers, who then will produce about 80 million turned parts per year.

The fact that the turning shop is now equipped with 15 machines proves that this concept worked out. These machines already include six SwissNano machines from Tornos and two machines of this type will follow by the end of this year. The first SwissNano was purchased in 2014, when the turning shop had to manufacture a most challenging, highly complex test probe with a crown on its face. The technical parameters perfectly matched. The machine is small, compact, easily accessible, stable and precise. But was it able to prove this in practice? It was. In the course of elaborate turning trials in Pforzheim, Germany, the machine showed what it had to offer. In this context, Ernst Dietrich’s team unanimously praise the support offered by Tornos. Together, they developed solutions for process optimisation.

With a shortened bar loader, the vibration could be further reduced. In this regard, the specific oil extraction system and the pick-off device directly mounted on the spindle are some very interesting features. Such details emphasise the high demands Ingun makes on its machines. The company does not content itself with the standards and is always looking for improvement. At the same time, Ingun has shifted to the in-house production of its entire parts series, thanks to the use of the SwissNano machines, which provide the company with additional flexibility.

A Close Partnership

The SwissNano convinced the responsible Ingun managers from the very beginning—and they have not been disappointed to date. The machine is amazingly fast, highly precise, and is easily accessible and easy to convert. With an annual ratio of two thirds set-up work and one third turning work, the latter is a decisive aspect. For Dietrich, the turning shop manager, the optimisation of the set-up times is essential. That’s why the workplaces and processes are optimised accordingly in special workshops. The possibility to change over in ‘next to no time’ between turning with or without guide bush and the resulting flexibility of the SwissNano are features that are appreciated as well in this context. This is extremely important for a company that rarely has to machine the same part again. Another aspect applauded by Dietrich is the TISIS software.

“My colleagues have felt at ease with it from the very beginning. The machine is easy to program; important features are already registered, and the simulation function provides reliable protection against interference and opens up possibilities to further optimize the program,” he says.

This passion to permanently push the envelope is typical for Ingun. The company promotes junior staff members and gives them the opportunity to prove themselves. So, the team being responsible for the Tornos machines is still very young, yet very competent and is fully committed to the tasks on hand. In addition, these young employees can benefit from the wealth of experience of their older colleagues. In this department, cycle times of just 15s for extremely complex test probes are the rule rather than the exception.

Based on these positive experiences, the SwissNano machine will remain the machine of choice for Ingun. This, however, does not mean that they will rest on their laurels. The company is even thinking about a strategic partnership with the Swiss manufacturer. In the coming years, Ingun will continue to grow at a tremendous pace and will thus need machines on which the requested micro-precision can be achieved in no time and at high flexibility. Tornos’ SwissNano provides Ingun with the ideal basis for this.

 

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