Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AGMaschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AG

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Advantage for the user from the pragmatic package


When you examine the growth of tool builders Werkzeugbau Otto Huss GmbH, you will see Hermle machining centers tracing a thin red line throughout. Following the acquisition of the company's first machines and investment in additional equipment, the past 15 years and more have continued to see expansion in technology matched by growth in capacity.

"Anyone who recognizes the opportunities and advantages of modern machining centers can do things with CNC systems that you cannot even begin to imagine," explains Thomas Birkelbach, Managing Director of Werkzeugbau Otto Huss GmbH, outlining his experience of decades in the manufacturing of parts and complex tools. And to a large extent, the company's history reflects the development of technology in the fields of milling and complete 5-axis machining.

It all started in 1987 with the switch towards contract manufacturing, production and special machining of tools and mould-making. The objective was to create the required capacity and also to invest in a future-proof CNC machining center. The balance was achieved: Today, the Machining Services division contributes around two thirds of the business activity, with the remaining third coming from the manufacturing of tools and spare parts.


"During an evaluation exercise, 15 years ago, we got in touch with Hermle and had them show us their unconventional concept in the C 800 V series. Given its mineral casting bed and three axes in the tool, we were sure that it would precisely meet all of the machining requirements we had at that point," says Thomas Birkelbach. Following the good experience gained there, a Hermle universal milling machine U 630 S followed on. In 2003 we moved into 5-axis technology, with the C 40 U, adding a further 5-axis system in the C 20 U in 2007.


A subsequent investment project involving a C 42 U CNC 5-axis high-performance machining center and a B 300 V CNC machining center demonstrates that the company is in no way prepared to overstep the mark, despite its satisfaction and love of the 5-axis technology. As it began to register bottlenecks in preliminary work, Huss decided in 2012 to split the workload between 5-axis high-performance machining and highly efficient 3-axis prefabrication, so that the machining centers were not occupied with uneconomical work. This freed up the required capacity in the tool and plate manufacturing areas, as well as in contract machining, while the business also benefits from more flexible use. "Due to our single-part and small-series production, we have to cater for high fluctuations in orders and capacity in our CNC machining area. For that reason, we don't have full staff coverage for complete two-shift operations, but instead start second and potentially third shifts with modified production structures comprising combined preliminary and full-range work, as well as multiple-machine operation," says Thomas Birkelbach, explaining the underlying concept.


Whenever possible, 3-axis machining is used.Then, whenever necessary, work switches to a 5-axis machining center. Furthermore, multiple-machine operation means that one operator can look after critical machining operations on one 5-axis machining center, while the second is operated more-or-less autonomously, to manufacture spare parts or small series components. Ideally, the C 42 U permits both 5-sided and 5-axis full machining and simultaneous machining on large format workpieces. And with as few clampings as possible. This allows Huss to cope with the tendency for ever larger tools and increasingly complex tool components, offering their customers real added value.

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