Bertrand Bonnay, owner and managing director of the small jobshop AEMB in Thyez, France, was looking for a cost-effective, technically advanced and above all dependable alternative to his previous wire-cut EDM systems. By investing in an MV1200R, he’s hit the bullseye.
Jobshop AEMB specialises in single items and micro-series of up to twenty components. Its small team consisting of the owner, three employees in the workshop and a single employee for bookkeeping and organisation machines precision parts for companies of the industrial region in the Arve valley south-east of Lake Geneva. “We’ve acquired an outstanding reputation among local companies mainly on the strength of our high flexibility. Working on call, we produce metal components within a matter of hours. Aside from the overall dimensions, there are practically no limits. Producing anything from cemented carbide custom tools for lathes and exclusive watch cases made of titanium through to single and multiple parts of corrosion-resistant steel for the aerospace industry and mould inserts of cold- and hot-working steel for tool- and mould-making, we have a highly diversified customer base,” Bonnay reports. He regards this broad range of customers and components as one of the main pillars of his success.
Bonnay had been working for almost 30 years as a tool- and mould-maker. When the company that last employed him went broke, he set up his own production business in 2005. His strategy from the outset was to produce high-grade components as one-offs and at most in small series flexibly and at short notice for companies in the immediate region. Building on his experience of tool- and mould-making, he first specialised in die-sinking. After only a short while, he extended his machining methods to include milling and, later, wire-cut erosion. To work cost-effectively and inexpensively, he purchased exclusively second-hand milling, die-sinking and wire-cutting machines recommended by their previous owners. His business grew steadily, and Bonnay soon had three employees working for him in production. “The current size of the business is ideal for me, as it gives us our main competitive advantages, i.e. high flexibility and extra value for money,” he adds. Another argument in favour of his jobshop is its proximity to its customers. He is frequently awarded jobs personally while visiting his customers, who also often directly provide the necessary data and drawings. Finished parts are delivered to customers by his staff at individually agreed times, or the customer collects his parts himself.
The production of unique items places huge demands on man and machine. The ability to handle jobs in rapid sequence at short notice and on time, Bonnay tells us, is ultimately an expression of dependability. On top of this, a production business needs the necessary machine capacity. Some months ago, the jobshop in Thyez found that it was reaching its limits. With his trusty machines, he says, he wasn’t always able to efficiently handle the large number of jobs. “Older machines tend to be slower. In addition, you also have to expect parts to fail, causing machines to break down. What’s more, programming and setting up older machines is often time-consuming and labour-intensive, particularly in view of the rapid advances in the methods and technologies of today’s commonly used CAD/CAM systems,” he continues. This was particularly true of the EDM systems at AEMB. Consequently, Bonnay decided for the first time to purchase a new MV1200R wire-cut EDM from Mitsubishi Electric in spring 2017. Colleagues and the employees of his customers were always stressing the special quality and forward-looking technology of these machines.
At the jobshop in Thyez, the MV1200R has already proven its worth after only a few months. This wire-cut EDM system, says Bonnay, gives him the assurance of advanced technology and long-term performance. “The equipment of the MV1200R is state-of-the-art in every respect. This is something I know from experience to be absolutely true for the mechanics, drives, wire threader, control and programming technology,” he adds. He is particularly impressed by the machine’s dependability. He and his staff set up and program the machine during the usual working hours, and for workpieces with longer machining times or small series, the machinists set up everything so that the MV1200R can work overnight or even at the weekend without supervision. He has so far been able to rely entirely on the wire-cutting machine from Mitsubishi Electric, he says. “With this dependability, the MV1200R boosts our flexibility still further. The machine ensures that we can reliably keep to deadlines agreed for jobs performed at short notice.”
Earning money in his free time.
The subcontractor mainly generates NC programs externally and offline at a 3D CAD/CAM system (TopSolid form Missler). To transfer them reliably to the MV1200R, a special postprocessor has been installed.This means they can accept DXF data and STEP files from customers, generate the NC programs from them and send the data straight to the MV1200R. In the workshop, all that’s left to do is add or modify a few parameters. The advantage of such work processes is that the NC programs are generated during the machining process and the wire-cutting machine can operate productively almost entirely without stoppages. This contributes enormously to the jobshop’s cost-effectiveness and flexibility. The MV1200R wire EDM system, Bonnay confirms, operates absolutely dependably unmanned. And the reliable wire threader plays its part in this. “This is why I can tell everyone that I earn my money in my free time, as the wire-cutting machine operates unmanned,” Bonnay adds jokingly.
At AEMB, single parts with relatively simple contours and geometries are also programmed at the wire EDM’s CNC Advance Plus control. This is where the operators benefit from the simple and straightforward user guidance and from the integrated technology data. They received the required training during commissioning of the machine in a session lasting only a few hours. “This short training session demonstrates how easy the MV1200R is to program and operate. It enabled all of my staff to use the wire-cutting machine productively and efficiently,” says Bonnay. Another benefit is that the CNC control from Mitsubishi Electric is able to read DXF data directly and use them as the basis for the NC program.
The choice offered by the wire EDM technology from Mitsubishi Electric between high machining speed and superlative surface finish proves to be highly beneficial. In other words, the varying demands of machining jobs can be met perfectly every time. For example, to produce customised cemented carbide tools with an extra-fine surface finish for turning shops, the MV1200R at subcontractor AEMB has the digital fine finishing generator DFS at its disposal. This makes it possible to cut profiling lathe tools, most of which are ready for use without subsequent grinding. And this also contributes to the highly flexible processing of tightly deadlined subcontracts. For other jobs, such as small series of drive components for medical equipment that do not need exceptionally high surface quality, the drive technology with Tubular Shaft Motors and optical drive system then clearly reveal their strengths. Such jobs are processed by the MV1200R at high machining speeds with high precision and next to no time.
Summing up, Bonnay confirms that the MV1200R has fully satisfied his expectations of quality, working speed and advanced technology. “The Mitsubishi Electric wire-cutting technology has a large hand in our ability to maintain and build on our position and reputation among our customers,” he stresses. With the MV1200R, AEMB in Thyez, France, sees itself ideally equipped for the future.
Bertrand Bonnay is a tool- and mould-maker by training. Having founded his business AEMB in 2005, he machines precision parts under subcontract with his four employees. He is particularly proud of the high regard in which he is held for his work by his customers, some of which are internationally active companies.
He earns his money in his free time, he says. While his machines are running unmanned, he can take a ride on his bike, he says.
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Subcontractor for precision customised profiling tools as well as high-grade components for aerospace, medical technology, and tool- and mould-making
53 rue des Bouleaux
74300 Thyez, France
Tel +33 4 5098 4638
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