Outstanding results are only possible with a tailor-made clamping fixture. Since Peter Aldrovandi is convinced of this, he builds the fixtures himself – including one for his new wire EDM machine, an MV1200R Grand Tubular from Mitsubishi Electric.
Peter Aldrovandi, Managing Director of Aldrovandi AG in Baar, Switzerland, sits at his PC and pages through the latest contributions to his discussion forum that he has set up at www.aldrovandi.ch/forum. As an EDM specialist through and through, he has been running the forum for several years so that he can share his expertise with his fellows. “I have no reservations about doing this. I regularly swap notes with colleagues from all over the metalworking sector. At social evenings that I organise several times a year, we share our worries and ideas.” In the forum, he encounters a user faced with the difficult task of choosing between three wire erosion machines from different manufacturers. Some advice sounds pretty flippant. For instance, “With Mitsubishi you get the most for your money” or “The biggest cheek was once after wire breakage when the machine rethreaded the kerf on the spot.”
In view of his openness, manifested by the constant flow of information on technological developments and savings opportunities, it is no surprise that Peter Aldrovandi has regular customers who have remained faithful to his firm for 30 to 40 years. Through the window he greets a man who has just arrived to collect his parts. “That’s someone from V-Zug AG that produces high-grade devices for kitchens and washrooms – one of our customers since the Seventies.”
V-Zug is thus one of the very first customers of the mechanical and technical firm that purchased its first wire EDM machine back in 1974 and focuses on wire and die-sinking EDM.
The company now uses six wire erosion machines and one die-sinking machine, all of them state-of-the-art, and can thusvery swiftly and flexibly respond and ensure punctual delivery even where more elaborate jobs are concerned. Also available is a machining centre that enables him to offer the full range of machining inclusive of grinding.
“With Mitsubishi you get the most for your money.”
The smell of freshly brewed coffee wafts through Aldrovandi’s office as he places cups and a plate of croissants on the table. “In face-to-face meetings with customers – and over a cup of coffee – we’ve often found surprising and simpler solutions. We’re in close and direct contact. Our customers expect quick, inexpensive and competently performed work within the tolerances.” But Aldrovandi knows where his limits are. “If there’s a better alternative to wire EDM, we say so. The customer’s confidence is the most important thing.”
Cultivating contacts with the customer also includes personally supplying key accounts with finished parts and collecting parts for machining from them. Within the sparsely populated firm, relations are no less personal. As fellow employees, the Managing Director has his wife Elisabeth and his sister Esther. And then, finally, there’s Daniel Melliger as the only non-family member whom Aldrovandi has known since childhood and who, like his sister, trained as a toolmaker at Aldrovandi AG.
Clamping fixtures can be seen on a cart. Aldrovandi picks one up. “In the interests of our customers, we aim to clamp workpieces intelligently, so we build these fixtures ourselves. For series parts, for example, so that several can be clamped together and wire-cut cost-effectively. Or for complex parts for which high positional accuracy is all-important so that we don’t have to additionally align them manually.
Aldrovandi replaced an old machine with his MV1200R Grand Tubular from Mitsubishi Electric in December 2012. He was curious about the latest technologies, he says, including the drive strategy of the MV Series with its Tuibular Shaft motors that permits a high quality of surface finish even with standard settings. These drives in the X, Y, U and V axes prevent cogging and ensure smooth and highly controllable movements. In the workshop, Aldrovandi tells us that he became aware of the Tubular Shaft motor during a presentation of the high-end NA Essence wire erosion system at the Sauber racing car production shop. “I told Hans-Peter Barth, the Swiss Mitsubishi regional rep, that if he were to offer me an FA-S Advance with Tubular Shaft motors, I’d buy it. And when I finally saw the MV1200R Grand Tubular at the 2012 Prodex trade fair, I couldn’t say no.” The machine completely satisfies Aldrovandi’s requirement profile. He expects a wire EDM system to be compact, precise, maintenance-friendly, dependable and cost-effective and offer a high machining speed. An integrated B axis is an absolute must for him. The MV1200R picks up further points with its price/performance ratio, low servicing and operating costs and its easy-to-operate new ADVANCE PLUS CNC control. Completely digital, the latter communicates much faster and more efficiently with the aid of the Optical Drive System and thus enhances component precision.
“In the interests of our customers, we aim to clamp workpieces intelligently, so we build these fixtures ourselves.”
However, Aldrovandi doesn’t program at the machine, which he has equipped with a 20-kilo wire station for longer interruption- free assignments, but at a specially created programming station. He is able to adopt the most commonly used CAD data straight from the customer and process them. With reference to products, he can show what he does with the data. “We produce components for sensors, medical technology parts, punching tools and general machine components. The main materials we use are hardened tool steel and stainless steel as well as cemented carbide and titanium in dimensions ranging from 10 x 20 to 200 x 250 millimetres.”
Because data have to be kept confidential, Aldrovandi applies high security standards to his IT infrastructure. “I’ve built my own server so that my data and those of my customers cannot wander off into the Web. My customers appreciate this data security.” He opens the door to a store room. “I keep at least six months’ stock of all the consumables that I need for EDM. Wire and filters, for example. As long as power comes out of the socket, I can do the jobs for my customers.”
The “Intelligent AT” automatic wire-threading system developed by Mitsubishi Electric has also stimulated his interest. He demonstrates how it works. “I was recently standing at the machine and glanced into the dielectric bath, when the wire suddenly broke and the machine threaded the kerf on the spot. And on an 80 millimetre high workpiece. Until this morning, I had no idea that it worked so perfectly. ” He also stresses the energy efficiency of the MV1200R Grand Tubular. “I benefit firstly from the lower piece costs. And secondly, as the father of a nine-year-old daughter, I have an obvious interest in protecting the environment and conserving resources.”
Name and place of company:
Aldrovandi AG, Baar, Switzerland
1965, converted into a Swiss Aktiengesellschaft in 1976
Number of employees:
Wire-cut and die-sink EDM, precision machining
Tel +41 . 41 . 763 0333
Fax +41 . 41 . 763 0331
mail2006 @ aldrovandi.ch
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