By switching to a custom wire EDM system from Mitsubishi Electric, Steinkamp Maschinenbau, maker of tools, moulds and special-purpose machines, is now a true “high-wire artist”.
The modern approach of Steinkamp Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG, Espelkamp, Germany, is expressed by the façade of the company building. On entering the building, the visitor is introduced to the company’s products, exhibited in a glass cabinet together with awards. In the office of Managing Director Lars Steinkamp, the latest issues of , the Mitsubishi Electric customer magazine, area laid out on the table. However, Steinkamp doesn’t regard this as a sign of his definitive commitment to his new supplier, as he’s only
been using his FA20-S Advance V wire EDM system since January 2012. “It’s early days yet for a conclusive verdict. The machine hasn’t been running for long enough. What’s more, the machine operator still hasn’t completed his training.” However, Steinkamp reckons he’s moving in the right direction. “If the wire-cutting machine does everything that we expect of it and what it has shown so far, I can well imagine purchasing all future wire EDM machines from Mitsubishi Electric.”
The family business was founded by Ingolf Steinkamp, father of today’s managing director, as a tool- and mouldmaking firm in Espelkamp in 1970. The firm with 110 employees now ranks among one of the key suppliers to the automotive industry. Word has even spread as far as the USA, where the company opened a branch in Erlanger, Kentucky, in 1999. Lars Steinkamp gives his reasons for the company’s success. “I attach great importance to good personal relations and, in our workforce consisting almost entirely of skilled staff, I encourage initiative.” This is no mere lip service, for he invites his team every now and then to joint celebrations and thus encourages identification with the company.
This component destined for a mould is one of the first components machined by Steinkamp on the FA20-S Advance V.
“The Mitsubishi system achieves much higher parallelism and precision than our older wire EDM machines.”
This sense of belonging pays off. Sales of EUR 10.5 million in 2011 and orders in hand ensuring work for the next two and a half months are the proof. In addition to the German and American markets, Steinkamp has also achieved success in the UK, France, Italy and the Czech Republic. Business is booming in the USA, and production in Espelkamp is having to fabricate moulds for the American subsidiary for a transitional period. “We’re excellently equipped, have a huge machine park offering every conceivable technique, and are therefore hard to beat in terms of qual-ity and deadline compliance,” Steinkamp stresses. “Our strategy
results in slightly higher prices, but it also boosts customer satisfaction. And that’s precisely what we mean by service.”
The company certified to DIN EN ISO 9001 since 1997 focuses on the production of equipment for the automotive supply industry and mainly for rubber-metal injection and blow moulding. Steinkamp also produces entire special machines, which it also designs, builds, furnishes with CE markings and supports with service. These are joined by prototype construction and injection mouldmaking.
In its job shop and prototype production, the company uses milling, turning, grinding, sinker and wire EDM machines. Lars Steinkamp goes to the Mitsubishi Electric wire EDM machine, whose Advance CNC control has a complex range of func-tions. “This is by far our youngest and most advanced wire-cutting machine – all the others are anything up to 25 years old.”
The components that Steinkamp wire-cuts are mainly components for injection and foam moulds. His customers more rarely order prototype components. The material is 95 per cent hardened and unhardened steel and small quantities of aluminium. The sizes are as much as 500 x 200 x 30 millimetres. Depending on the size and number of penetrations, the operator quotes machining times ranging from 25 minutes to 30 hours.
Heinrich Wiebe, in charge of EDM, shows us a component produced on the FA20-S Advance V. “I’m delighted with the quality. The Mitsubishi system achieves much higher parallelism and precision than our older wire EDM machines. With a wire diameter of 0.25 millimetres, we achieve surface quality to within 0.2 micrometres. Once we’ve learnt the ropes, we also expect much higher output from the new machine than from the old ones.”
The V package of the FA20-S Advance V operated in single shifts includes a high-performance generator that makes erosion rates of up to 500 square millimetres per minute possible. The high-speed XXL EDM system is a custom, “high-wire” version in this case. “Our machine has a cutting height of 420 millimetres and thus a suitably high flushing tank.” Wiebe lowers the door of the fluid tank. “We don’t want to miss out on unobstructed access to the work area – or water bath technology. Among our old machines, there’s even one with coaxial flushing.” Wiebe also draws attention to the auto-threading system that takes only ten seconds for the task; and to the 20 kilo wire station that has been installed in addition to the 10 kilo station supplied automatically with the machine.
At the machine terminal, Vitalij Marx, operator of the FA20-S Advance V, calls up the 3D drawing
of the component due next for machining. For Steinkamp, the CAD drawing illustrates the complexity of certain parts. “To obtain the necessary EDM skills, you need to train as a fine mechanic or toolmaker. Because in mouldmaking you have to understand, among other things, the interplay of the finished components.” It is therefore essential that the company’s staff have a thorough grasp. The customer supplies them with a 3D model, which they process in the CAM system for EDM machining.
Steinkamp’s interest in wire erosion systems from Mitsubishi Electric was awakened by a neighbouring company that uses a machine from this manufacturer and was highly satisfied with it. The neighbour’s appreciation fell on fertile soil, and all the more so as Steinkamp was disappointed by his old supplier. When he then saw the FA20-S Advance V at a trade fair, he bought it straight off, encouraged by a trade fair discount. What’s more, the FA20-S Advance V was immediately available and therefore ready for use after only a month.
Despite the brevity of business relations so far, Steinkamp can already look back on positive expe-
rience with Mitsubishi Electric. “The technician that installed the machine had all the requisite tech-
nical knowledge, including that of the control equipment. This is by no means usual. And he performed all his tasks efficiently.”
“Sales of EUR 10.5 million in 2011 and orders in hand ensuring work for the next two and a half months.”
Family company founded by Ingolf Steinkamp
DIN EN ISO 9001 certification
Branch established in
Erlanger, Kentucky, USA
EUR 10.5 million sales
110 employees and a high volume of orders
A glance into the future: achieving higher output with fewer man hours
Name and place of company:
Steinkamp Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG, Espelkamp, Germany
Number of employees:
Toolmaking, mouldmaking, special machine manufacture
GmbH & Co. KG
In der Tütenbeke 14
Tel +49 . 5772 . 9111 11
Fax +49 . 5772 . 9111 61
info @ stkm.de
Steinkamp Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG
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