Tuesday, 27 January 2015

5 axes in coffee with Breton MATRIX 1000 vertical milling cnc machine

To reduce cycle times, maintain very strict tolerances and optimize machinings, companies are increasingly turning to 5-axis machines tools on which after the blank has been loaded and clamped the finished part can be produced without any further repositioning.(By Giancarlo Giannangeli for TM- Teconologie Mecaniche)

Opem Spa started operating in Parma in 1974 in the field of industrial foods products weighing; from the beginnings no effort has been spared in continual search for innovative solutions. Enhancing performance and quality has always been a primary goal, in a philosophy that has allowed the Emilia-based company to achieve undisputed levels of technological excellence. Opem therefore has gradually gained ascendancy in the packaging industry, refining new machines that are now being sold all over the world.

Today coffee is the driving line, occupying first place in terms of sales, but the company also produces packaging lines for tea, barley coffee, herbal infusions, ice-cream mix powders, milk powder, spices and biscuits. Coffee is packaged in cans and pouches, in beans or ready-ground, although the lion's share currently lies with coffee pods. In this field Opem is the absolute world market leader, as confirmed by Fabio Binacchi, founder and president of the north Italian company.
«95% of our output is exported; we face fierce competition from German groups, but despite our relatively small size we are hailed for the quality of our products and have established an enviable reputation. We also have several major customers in Germany and despite the renowned German predilection for domestic production we recently supplied additional lines to several German companies that continue to insist on using our products. This seems to confirm that our consistent strategy of placing customers at the center of our development process has allowed us to build systems that offer the utmost productivity and reliability - the key quality prerogatives for industrial plant. As a dynamic SME we place the maximum emphasis on flexibility and our ability to supply completely bespoke systems».
The company was recently  classified by  Ucima (automatic machinery manufacturers association) and ranked number one in Italy in terms of net operating income and sales margin, surpassing all the big name manufacturers operating out of Italy's packaging valley in the Bologna area. On the European level the company came in second, preceded by a single German operator.

A high precision stable machine
Today, Opem operates out of a spacious factory where all systems are designed and built internally. The company has always insisted on keeping all stages of the development cycle in house, from the preliminary analysis preceding the design stage to construction of the various components and final assembly.
«Our focus is to guarantee the maximum quality levels at all times, so we consider it essential to retain full control of each stage of the process. This allows us to make instant priority changes whenever necessary without having to defer to contractors that, however reliable and well-intentioned, are unable to match the speed of response that we can guarantee with our own facilities».
That's why we have a fully-equipped workshop to build all the non-commercial components used in our systems directly in-house. To streamline and optimize our operations we recently purchased a Breton Matrix 1000 5-axis medium-large gantry center offering high speed machining and impeccable performancei.
For example, the carriage and beam travel on generously sized recirculating roller guideways that ensure high precision and stability: all axes are moved by a ground recirculating ball screw with a double preloaded ball nut assembly; position reading tasks are performed by optical linear encoders. Breton devoted special attention to controlling thermal expansion by cooling the ball nuts directly rather than merely cooling the ball screws, thus radically mitigating heat propagation directly at source. The axes are powered by the latest generation brushless servomotors controlled by digital drives.

Increasingly extreme performance levels
Matrix 1000 is a machining center for milling complex 3D shapes that must be machined to high precision and that call for continual axes interpolation. It may seem superfluous in a company that “simply” produces packaging systems, but in fact these automatic lines are composed of increasingly complex machines that offer impeccable performance in terms of operating speed, reliability, and repeatability of results through time. Customers in the industry are currently marshalling their resources because they need to boost productivity levels to produce ever higher numbers of packs per unit time, resulting in a race among suppliers to offer ever faster machines.

The productivity of the lines produced by Opem varies from system to system, but output can easily reach 1,200-1,300 pods/minute, each individually weighed and sealed in plastic wraps. An impressive production rate that makes it hard for a bystander to even see the products in the blur of motion they hurtle along the conveyors. Indeed, the only way to actually see products in transit is to observe the production flow under strobe lighting!
This exasperation of packaging speed calls for micrometric precision in the construction of moving parts, which must be meticulously crafted to obtain infinitesimal mating tolerances. Even if 5 continual axis machining is performed rarely in the Opem workshop, the 4 and 5 positioned axes have become a constant, especially in relation to large size workpieces.
Maintenance of precision can be guaranteed only when the blank part is positioned in the machine just once.
«Milling on several faces, angled chamfers, drillings and many operations on a single component are all part of the routine today and we need to perform all these processes on the same machine. Clamping is a single process; all operations are performed in sequence and the part is fully machined and finished. The absence of additional external operations on the part once it has been positioned on the worktable results in compliance with tolerances in each dimension that were hitherto extremely difficult to achieve and called for painstaking set-up procedures. Today we can be absolutely certain that precision requirements are met consistently».

Also time savings resulting from faster throughput times have been maximized thanks to the Matrix 1000.
«With respect to the past, when we had to unload parts and then reposition them, machining times have been significantly reduced. In addition, a powerful machine like the Matrix, with its impressive performance credentials, greatly assists us in making heavy duty components».
Another of the reasons that led to the choice of such a monolithic machine is the size of the worktable, which makes it possible to clamp both bulky side assemblies or even several parts in different areas of the worktable to be machined in succession and without interruption.

Parameters for high speed
Before choosing the Matrix 1000, the Emilia-based company management did their homework carefully: «We found a large number of high quality machines on the market, but we preferred to go with an Italian product made by a high-end builder. Price is not the critical factor for our company: the characteristics we are focused on are precision, ruggedness and, above all, the level of service received. In fact, working with the machine manufacturer's technical team a series of special tooling systems were developed in accordance with adequate parameters for this type of high speed machine. Our collaboration with Breton made it possible to refine chip removal technologies and strategies, identify the best tools and optimize the machining processes. All cycle times have been significantly reduced, both for roughing and surface finishing».
The selected tools are stored in a spacious magazine that ensures prolonged operation of the system without intervention. The magazine is installed outside the work area to keep the tools clean and ensure the maximum level of reliability through time. The cast-iron fork head is particularly effective, imparting both structural stiffness and absorbing machine vibration. The model installed in the Opem works is equipped with Direct Drive motors and a thermally stabilized spindle.
A versatile machining center
Matrix 1000's massive frame and high performance make it the ideal solution for a range of industries: aerospace, automotive, tooling and design. To meet all machining needs, Breton can configure the machine specifically in accordance with customers' needs; the standard version is equipped with a large working area, although it can be configured with two separate work areas for tandem machining. The machine affords optimal accessibility and visibility of the work area thanks to its large front doors and gantry structure with travelling beam.
One particularly interesting feature is the structural solution invented and patented by Breton: heavy-duty shoulders built using innovative Metalquartz technology, i.e. an arc-welded and stabilized steel sandwich structure with ribbing embedded in a quartz composite polymeric matrix. This exclusive technology assures the utmost structural rigidity and vibration damping, which guarantees a better surface finish and longer lifetime of the milling tools.
Matrix is not designed simply for machining steel parts: it can also work with composites and resins. The machine can be equipped with an efficient dust extraction system on the spindle nose and roof-top bellows that completely seal the work cell, segregating the machining zone from the surrounding environment.

For info and requests write to mail@breton.it.
We’ll get back to you promptly.
Well, that’s all for today, thanks for your attention.
Sergio Prior


  1. German predilection for domestic production we recently supplied additional lines to several.cnc mills

  2. for instant, a large propeller blades. Usually these components are so heavy, or the machine is so heavy or big that making a swiveling table isn’t a good option. metal milling machine

  3. Thanks you for sharing this unique useful information content with us. Really awesome work. keep on blogging CNC Milling