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New Levels of Productivity using Haas Machines

New Levels of Productivity using Haas Machines

Added to MTDCNC by HAAS Automation on 08 August 2012

Supreme Engravers South Africa Ltd claims to be the largest manufacturer of hot foil blocks and cutting cylinders in the southern hemisphere, supplying to all of the printers in South Africa, as well as many others in the U.S., UK and Europe.
Supreme client list includes manufacturers of greeting cards, folders, product packaging and labels, textiles, books and stationary. To produce the ornate, often complex, designs required by such companies, Supreme has, up until recently, used a traditional chemical etching process.

In a quest to improve quality and productivity, company Managing Director Izak Meyer has spent a great deal of time and money to identify and prove an alternative production method: one that would allow the company to hone its production techniques and expand its global customer base.

&ldquoChemical etching was too slow and too expensive,&rdquo he says. &ldquoWe needed to find an alternative process if we were going to attract new business and grow the company.&rdquo

To find a suitable alternative, Meyer quite literally travelled to the four corners of the Earth.

&ldquoIt sounds a little excessive,&rdquo he smiles, &ldquobut I wanted to do proper tests and studies to be sure that Supreme could have confidence in whichever alternative it invested in. After all, this was something that would affect the very core of our business, and would have lasting consequences.&rdquo

Meyer&rsquos search concluded rather closer to home than he had expected, when he was introduced to the Haas CNC Mini Mill &ndash a compact machining centre launched by Haas Automation at IMTS, Chicago in 2000, that has since spawned a whole new genre of machine tool.

&ldquoI spent a lot of time at Haas CNC Services in Johannesburg testing the Haas machines,&rdquo says Meyer, &ldquoalthough it quickly became apparent that the Haas Mini Mill would be able to offer exactly what we were looking for. The machines were by far the best in terms of quality and performance, especially when we took the price into consideration &ndash even compared to imported Taiwanese machines.&rdquo

What really clinched the deal, Meyer claims, was the support.
&ldquoHaas CNC Services have an excellent and well-deserved reputation for support,&rdquo says Meyer. &ldquoThe pre-sales support was good, but the back-up proved to be exemplary.&rdquo

New Levels of Productivity

&ldquoFor Supreme, a machine offering spindle speeds of, say, 50,000 rpm would make the engraving operation easier,&rdquo Izak Meyer explains. &ldquoBut such machines are five times more expensive than a Haas Mini Mill. So, instead of buying one expensive machine, I bought four Haas Mini Mills and fitted them with gear-driven speed increasers that enable us to cut at 30,000 rpm.
&ldquoHaving four machines also gives us far greater flexibility,&rdquo continues Meyer. &ldquoIf we had just one machine we would have to wait for a job to finish before we could start another. If something goes wrong on a job, we&rsquod have to load it again. Having four Mini Mills is a tremendous advantage.&rdquo

Cylinder-based printing is, says Meyer, much quicker than block-based processes, hence an industry-wide increase in demand. Now that the Haas machines are installed, Supreme is manufacturing up to 80 cylinders a month, and the company has recently divided in two, so that cylinder production can take place unhindered by other production schedules.

&ldquoThe split may mean we need to purchase another three or four Haas machines,&rdquo says Meyer, &ldquopossibly including a VF-1 vertical machining centre.&rdquo

For now, Supreme runs the Haas Mini Mills 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including unmanned overnight shifts. During daylight hours, there are two operators attending to the four machines, both of whom were new to CNC when the Haas machines arrived.
&ldquoThe machine control is so easy and so user friendly that neither of our guys had any trouble making the transition to CNC,&rdquo says Meyer. &ldquoNow that we have, all of the customer artwork we receive can be e-mailed, proved and delivered to the machines electronically. There&rsquos no more fetching films and delivering samples.&rdquo

The Haas Mini Mills produce a deep, engraved image that is accurately spaced around the cylinder or on the block, allowing for thermal expansion. This provides high-definition images unsurpassed by other production methods, and also eliminates problems that can be caused by foil spread.

&ldquoThe machines are extremely accurate, which is good for fine label work. In fact, since we&rsquove had the Mini Mills we have been able to tell our customers, &lsquoas long as we can see it, we can cut it!&rsquo That&rsquos how accurate these machines are.&rdquo


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