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HAAS chosen by Chiappa Fireams

HAAS chosen by Chiappa Fireams

Added to MTDCNC by HAAS Automation on 23 August 2013

For more than half a century, Italian company Chiappa Firearms has manufactured replica, sports and blank firing handguns and rifles that are sought the world over by historic weapon enthusiasts, collectors, re-enactment societies and film production companies.

Chiappa uses three recently installed Haas EC-300 CNC 4-axis horizontal machining centres with rapid fire twin pallet changers to produce the intricate and precise components that make up their faithful recreations.

In 1958, Ezechiele ‘Oscar’ Chiappa founded the company Armi Chiappa to design and manufacture parts for field guns and air rifles. The company’s customers were mostly the 200 gun manufacturers located in the Valtrompia area of Brescia, Italy – an area well known for firearm production, and home to the oldest gun manufacturer of them all, Beretta.

In the early 1980s, the Chiappa family took advantage of vigorous demand from the USA for replica historical firearms to move into a growing niche. About a decade later, the company diversified further into manufacturing blank firing guns under the new brand name Kimar.

Demand for the company’s products soared until, inevitably, it found itself short of factory space. In 2002, Chiappa built a brand new, 70,000ft² headquarters in the south of the region. With a modern development centre and larger production area, the purpose built facility allowed the company to increase its production to 60,000 handguns and 6,000 rifles annually. The dramatic increase also necessitated a large investment in new machine tools, mostly from Italian, American and Japanese builders. The upgrade of capital equipment continued for several years, and included a search to find the best value CNC machine tools.

'We settled on Haas because we couldn’t find any other machines that demonstrated the same excellent price-to-quality ratio,' states Rino Chiappa, managing director of the company and son of the founder. 'Compared to a vertical machining centre, the horizontal working area of the Haas EC-300 gives us 25% greater production yield for the type of components we machine, which are often cut from solid billets, and usually involve removing large quantities of metal.'

The company installed the first of its Haas EC-300 machines in 2007, and subsequently added two more: the first in 2008 and the second a year later.

New niches

In 2007, another local firearm manufacturer ceased production, giving Armi Chiappa almost uncontested access to another growing and lucrative market niche – replica lever action firearms. The products the company subsequently created to exploit this opportunity are at the upper end of its price range and include an 1892 Winchester lever action rifle of the type ubiquitous in Western movies, and carried on screen by, amongst others, the legendary John Wayne. The parts for these particular weapons are machined from billets of solid steel.
Each component in a new Chiappa creation is designed using CAD/CAM before being assembled on screen using 3D simulation. Once satisfied the parts and finished assembly are correct, company designers create toolpaths that are sent directly to the Haas machines.

'We moved to Haas machines because we wanted to create a new production line for lever action products like the Winchester,' says Mr Chiappa. 'The three Haas EC-300 machines make components that include a complete receiver for a rifle – a part that begins life as a solid block weighing 2.5kg, yet just 0.6kg remains after final machining.'

Manufactured from 38NiCrMo4 low-alloy steel, the part is finished with dimensional tolerances of 0.02mm. Batch sizes are up to 400-off, which means the three, 4-axis EC-300s work continuously over three shifts to keep up with demand. Other common materials processed include C40 carbon steel, Ergal aluminium alloy and AVP plastic resin. The latter is used to create prototypes.

'As well as reducing cycle times by 25%, we’ve also extended the life of our cutting tools by 20 to 25%, thanks to the rigidity of the Haas EC-300s,' Mr Chiappa explains. 'Just with these factors in mind, I’m confident that we will see a return on our investment in just three years.'

The real deal

Today, Armi Chiappa thrives on its reputation for precision craftsmanship and historical accuracy. Sales in the USA in particular have grown unabated, and the company recently opened a North America manufacturing operation in Dayton, Ohio.

'There is little doubt that discerning collectors want replica guns to look and feel like the real thing,' Mr Chiappa divulges. 'Even though our prices start as low as $500, each component needs to be a carbon copy of the original. We make walnut handles and stocks, and decorations are hand or laser engraved, not machined. The exterior facing steel parts are even heat treated to mimic original styles. The oldest gun we replicate is from circa 1750 – a Kentucky muzzle loaded Marshall.

'There are many factors that differentiate us from our competitors,' he concludes, 'but our leadtimes, attention to detail, competitive pricing and constant innovation of new and improved models are particularly important.'


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