From one to another!
From filing to precision milling
Manufacturing and finishing large and heavy tool, mould and machine components using high-precision five-axis machining – machining specialist HETEC from Breidenbach fulfils customer requirements with an accuracy of 1/100th mm using Hermle machining centres.
HETEC’s claim of ‘Performance is not a matter of chance’ exactly expresses the machining services supplier’s philosophy! And that philosophy was born out of Friedhelm Herhaus’ experience: For too long he felt hampered in his desire to put his manufacturing knowledge and skill to practical use and to the customer’s benefit. In such cases there is only one way forward: setting up one’s own operation. Which is why Friedhelm Herhaus left his previous employer in the summer of 1998 and joined up with his brother Günter Herhaus to found HETEC OHG, initially in Bad Laasphe. Their goal was to provide specialist machining services for manufacturing individual components in tool and mould making as well as small batch production for other engineering companies – and at last to be able to do that at the cutting edge of what is technically possible. With the decision taken, production commenced with a milling machine which was soon followed by two machining centres, a wire-cutting plant and a 2D CAD /CAM system. As the business grew, brother Werner Herhaus joined the company as well, and in 2000 the HETEC GmbH was founded. Although the company has remained the same since then, the same cannot be said of what goes on inside it. The brothers each took responsibility for a specific area, and together they put the company claim into practice with a programme of investment in CAD/CAM systems, CNC machine tools, optimization of workflows and remote monitoring of processes – so their customers could always rely on the company providing state-of-the-art manufacturing technology.
HETEC’s USP: Large scale precision machining
This strategy has remained in place to this day, whereby the business has evolved more and more towards high-accuracy machining and production of very complex tool and mould making components as well as large scale base tools. This required investment in five-axis machining centres, and in order to meet the exacting customer requirements with sustainable reliability, HETEC has included five-axis machining centres from Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AG in its portfolio since 2009. This began with a type C 40 machining centre, which was followed by a C 30 U. As soon as they became available, the next deliveries were of C 60 U and C 50 U series large machines, then came a C 400 U for smaller items and lately another large unit, a C 52 U. Friedhelm Herhaus explained: “We have always received very good and fair advice from Hermle and we are delighted with the 5-axis concept, with the performance, the very high degree of precision, the accessibility, the excellent and fast service as well as the cooperation in all phases of a project and subsequently.” As a graphic illustration of this, he pointed out that to date, the C 40 U machining centre purchased in 2009 has already clocked up over 30000 spindle running hours – and it is still using the original spindle! Not to mention the fact that the precision values recorded in a measurement log from 2016 simply repeated those that had been recorded seven years previously!
Pragmatic automation made to order
It is worth mentioning that despite the broad range of applications in the areas of full processing of and finishing work on complex tool and mould components, the Hermle machining centres manage all that just with the standard tool magazines. One reason for this is that HETEC has developed its own tool/magazine management system that allows all the machining centres (each of which has the same HSK-A63 tool holding fixture, by the way) to be tooled according to the order and the work to be done. Altogether this involves around 2000 ‘sharp’ tools, each provided with a chip, including around 250 different milling tools and around 300 for drilling and thread cutting. This means that the tools can be changed ‘blind’, as it were, i.e. deployed as required and with drastically reduced changing and equipping times. With the installation of the new C 52 U five-axis machining centre, the decision-makers went another step further by ordering the HIMS (‘Hermle Information Monitoring Software’) base package for the first time. This involves a display of the life status and transmission of the information by email as required. This fits perfectly to HETEC's manufacturing and (remote) monitoring strategy: single-shift normal operation and otherwise (monitored) automatic operation. With a working range of X-Y-Z 1000-1100-750 mm and the 700 mm swivelling rotary table with a load-bearing capacity of 2000 kg, the C 52 U machining centre is ideally suited to highly complex simultaneous/full/finishing machining of extremely intricate tool and mould components or base plates.