When Ernst Wagner built his first manual chain-link fencing machines in 1893, he had no idea that he was thus laying the foundations for a company with a global reputation. The company group today has roughly 1 200 employees on its payroll and about 750 of these at the parent plant in Reutlingen alone. The years of experience of wire and tube processing find expression in the company’s multi-faceted range of machines. In the wire erosion department, the company has been using innovative technology from Mitsubishi Electric for the last two years. The machine park comprises two FA30-S Advances with Z-axis extension and an enlarged work tank, an FA20-S Advance and a high-precision NA1200 Essence.
The tiniest springs for medical technology and the watchmaking industry, large shock absorber springs, chain-link fencing and steel chains – what all these products have in common is that they all involve the mechanical processing of wire for their manufacture. Complex machine configurations today ensure that this processing can be carried out efficiently.
With over 115 years of experience, WAFIOS AG has long established itself has the leading manufacturer of machines for wire and tube processing. Thanks to its broad model range, the company occupies a leading position worldwide. “We want to ensure that our customers find the matching solution for practically any application,” says Björn Zwiesele, head of Mechanical Production and Quality Management, explaining WAFIOS’s product diversity.
Because of the complexity of the parts it produces, WAFIOS has a high manufacturing depth, which calls for maximum flexibility in view of the wide product range. Björn Zwiesele describes how WAFIOS meets this challenge: “By combining skilled personnel with modern production technologies, we achieve high efficiency and productivity.” Finding highly skilled employees on the labour market is difficult these days, so WAFIOS trains its own. And, as far as the machine park is concerned, the company regularly invests in new and innovative technologies.
The best example of WAFIOS’s openness to innovation is the wire erosion department. In the last two years, four new machines have been purchased, all of them from Mitsubishi Electric. Wire-cutting is a crucial link in the WAFIOS process chain, as many machine parts can only be produced inexpensively and efficiently with this technology. It is therefore understandable that WAFIOS requires innovative and high-perfor-mance wire erosion machines.
“We had reached the point where we had to decide whether it would still be worthwhile maintaining the old machines,” Björn Zwiesele recalls. As the total cost of ownership (TCO) was too high overall, the investment in a new machine in 2008 made more sense in the long term, he claims. After an exhaustive comparison of the machines on offer and successful test machining, WAFIOS bought the FA30-S Advance from Mitsubishi Electric. The head of Mechanical Production names the reasons: “In its totality, the machine from Mitsubishi Electric was the model with the best price/performance ratio, even taking the sideline costs into account. On top of this, there’s the manufacturer’s competent after-sales service.”
The special feature of the FA30-S Advance purchased at the time was its modification for its special application, that of machining sliding mandrels measuring 1800 x 300 mm with a cutting depth of 500 mm. To make this possible, the Z-axis had to be extended and the water tank widened. A remarkable achievement, as Zwiesele notes: “Despite these modifications, the manufacturer supplied the machine in the shortest time so that we could quickly get production going.” Looking back, he regards this first wire-cut EDM machine from Mitsubishi Electric as the door-opener for further machines of the same make.
The machine’s impressive performance and the obliging service were reason enough for WAFIOS to purchase further machines from Mitsubishi Electric – first an NA1200 Essence and an FA20-S Advance, and in autumn 2010 another FA30-S Advance with the same modifications as the first one. The machines were selected with great care, so that the array of technologies in wire erosion is as balanced as possible. “The two FA30-S Advances give us sufficient capacity for the large workpieces.The two smaller machines create extra scope and flexibility in production,” Björn Zwiesele explains and refers to the broad range of parts that WAFIOS produces for its machines.
In the case of the NA1200 Essence, WAFIOS had an additional rotating B-axis installed, an optional extra that has been retrofitted on the other three machines. The NA1200 Essence’s tubular direct drives make it a high-precision machine with absolute positional accuracy. Just how much production depends on it is explained by Björn Zwiesele: “In some cases, we cut super-fine grooves for wire guidance in stainless steel rollers. These are of the order of 60 µm.”
The first two years with wire-cut EDM machines from Mitsubishi Electric have left the experts at WAFIOS in no doubt. All four models operate dependably and achieve optimal production results. “Our standard of quality demands such results,” Björn Zwiesele adds. The, in all respects, positive experience – which also includes customer service – therefore demonstrate conclusively that the switch to Mitsubishi Electric was the right step to take in wire erosion. WAFIOS made these recent investments at a time when the general economic climate was subject to major fluctuations. Zwiesele is optimistic all the same: “The ups and downs in the economy will probably continue in ever decreasing cycles, but we are in a good position to plan ahead for the future – in the wire erosion sector as well.”
Name and place of business:
Dipl. oec. Thomas Hösle
Number of employees:
Developing and building high-end machines for wire and tube processing
Tel: +49 (0) 71 21 / 14 60
Fax: +49 (0) 71 21 / 49 12 09
sales @ wafios.de
Head of Mechanical Production and Quality Management
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