German machine tool industry still sees chances for growth

In the first half of 2014, the German machine tool industry maintained its production output at the previous year’s high level of around 6.5 bn euros.

vdw5“Thanks to healthy domestic demand, the sector has put up a valiant performance”, reports Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), speaking at the AMB in Stuttgart on 16 September 2014. At the same time, he admits that the association’s forecast for production output, with a plus of 3 per cent, is appearing increasingly over-optimistic.

Chances for growth are looking quite good
Nonetheless, the VDW definitely sees grounds for optimism. Up to July, order bookings had risen by 7 per cent. Important momentum is coming from abroad. “For the year’s second half, we are expecting a reversal of roles between domestic and foreign demand”, says Schäfer. Domestic orders were in fact still rising overall in the year’s first half, by 18 per cent, while export orders were lightly down at minus 1 per cent. In the months of May to July, however, they were already down by 5 per cent, and in July they fell by 24 per cent, the first double-figure drop in a single month for eight months.

For export orders, the picture is reversed: they have been rising since May, from May to July they were 23 per cent up on the preceding year’s equivalent figure, and most recently, in July of this year, by an impressive 42 per cent. The growth consists partly of large-sized orders, but not exclusively. Rather, it is broadly based, and is also showing up in the figures for metal-cutting technology.

America and Eastern Europe are the determinant factors in demand from abroad
According to a survey commissioned by the VDW, it’s primarily orders from America and parts of Europe that are responsible for the upturn. The intensive re-industrialisation efforts in the USA and high capital investment by the automotive industry in the NAFTA nations of Mexico and Canada, and in Eastern Europe, have here ensured higher order volumes for “Made in Germany” production technology.

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New Vacu- Vise clamping system from Horst Witte Geraetebau

Vacu-Vise is a clamping method using vacuum as an alternative to conventional vises operated pneumatically, hydraulically or mechanically.

Form- fitting work piece clamping with vacuum clamping technology.
Form- fitting work piece clamping with vacuum clamping technology.

This clamping system consists of a specially designed vacuum chuck and two clamping jaws, which are mounted on a rigid, but resiliently deformable support plate. When vacuum is switched on, the support plate is drawn into a trough and deformed in such a way that the clamping jaws tip towards each other and thereby clamp the work piece securely with great force.

Easy and efficient…
Especially advantageous – when a vacuum supply is already in use on a machine – this new clamping method offers an extended effective use of the “medium” vacuum. Wherever dimensions of a work piece and cutting forces no longer permit conventional vacuum clamping, there is now a possibility of strong and if necessary additional form-fitting work piece clamping with this new clamping system.

…also when it is complicated
For example, if on a milling center several consecutive processes require re-clamping of a part are required and the remaining surfaces for direct vacuum clamping are too small, this innovative clamping technology can be used.  One system has already been implemented in the medical field, and amongst other things is in use for manufacturing plastic elements for knee implants.

Horst Witte Gerätebau Barskamp KG
Horndorfer Weg 26-28
21354 Bleckede, Germany
Tel: +49/5854/89-0
Fax: + 49/5854/89-40
[email protected]


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Haas Machine Number 150,000!

Haas Automation is celebrating building and supplying its 150,000th CNC machine tool: a DS-30SSY dual-spindle turning centre with Y-axis.
Edstroms 5
At a special handing-over ceremony to mark the occasion, Haas Automation Europe’smanaging director Alain Reynvoet attended the Manufacturing and Automation Expo 2014, Stockholm, to meet the owners of Swedish company Claesson Engineering – a general, precision engineering business founded by three brothers – and to present them with a commemorative plate to mark the occasion of their purchase of this very special machine tool.

“Installation of the 150,000th machine is a signal event for Haas Automation,” said Mr. Reynvoet. “The fact that it has been bought by a European company, in the relatively high-cost region of Scandinavia, is further proof that our new generation of products combining value, performance, reliability and support – are the right ones for any market, however tough the trading conditions. And unlike other builders, Haas continues to manufacture its high-value products at its 1-million-square-foot facility in Southern California, a fact as revolutionary today as it was more than 25 years ago, when Gene Haas introduced his first VMC for less than $50,000.”

Skyrocking growth
As recently as June 2007, Haas celebrated building and installing its 75,000th CNC machine tool, purchased by a family owned machining business in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. Not bad considering the California-based company only started building CNC machine tools just 20 years earlier. Incredibly, the company has since built and supplied an additional 75,000 machines in around one third as long as it took to build the first 75,000. More than 50% of that production has been exported to customers in overseas markets. “The Haas DS-30SSY CNC turning centre is one of our latest-generation machine tools,” adds Mr. Reynvoet. “It was designed to provide affordable high-productivity to companies around the world wishing to machine complex parts in as few setups as possible.”
In Switzerland
Urma AG Werkzeugfabrik
Obermatt 3
CH-5102 Rupperswil
Phone +41 62-889 20 20
Fax +41 62-889 20 28
[email protected]


PS: We’ve just managed to write a success story in Switzerland with Hapa Electronik that realises wonders with its Haas Super Mini Mill… soon released, stay tuned.


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Free online training modules for machine tool companies on the fundamentals of Corporate Social Responsibility

The project DESIGN-MTS – Defining Social responsibility Interventions for a Grounded Networking in Machine Tools Sector was launched in July 2013 and has brought together partners from industry, academia and the research world to develop a multi-stakeholder platform in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability.
CSR copie
The project has enabled partners to enhance communication on relevant practices in the sector, to encourage the exchange of best practices and to promote stakeholder dialogue along the value chain. Over the past year, the project consortium has identified areas of relevance in CSR for the machine tool industry, namely employability, demographic changes, workplace challenges and environmental sustainability. The project has mapped challenges and opportunities in each area, it has assessed the level of awareness and best practices in the sector and has disseminated findings through a series of events as well as the project website. A major objective of the project is to better inform SMEs as regards the fundamental concepts of CSR, international standards, and to help them better prepare to respond to growing requirements of customers. Therefore, online training modules have recently been launched on the project website and offer free-of-charge courses to companies and trade associations.

To help SME’s….
As societal and regulatory pressure have increased on large customers, such as in transport vehicles industries, they have adopted “codes of conduct” and corporate strategies for CSR. In these strategies, customers also outline their expectations from players in their supply chain in key CSR areas, such as environmental sustainability, labour practices, workplace safety and fair operating practices. Small-sized suppliers of production machines and tools lack sufficient resources and knowledge to understand and assess customer requirements which are often based on international standards such as ISO 26000. Filip Geerts, CECIMO Director General, states: “Compliance with customers’ CSR-related requirements has become a matter of competitiveness for machine tool suppliers. It increasingly affects suppliers’ ability to keep their customers and to win new contracts”.

…through online training
The online training modules are designed to educate SMEs and help them develop their internal capacity to comply with these standards. SMEs will be introduced to fundamental concepts of CSR and implementation methodologies, but also to real-life examples from industry. The DESIGN-MTS project offers thereby a useful tool which contributes helping meet the Europe 2020 strategy’s objective of smart and sustainable growth.






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World premiere for watch plate manufacturing from Röhm

The watch industry is profiting to an increasing extent from the trend towards status symbols. Through increasing demand, the necessity for manufacturing faster is also increasing without having to compromise on the quality.

Swivelling: Then, the chuck is swivelled by 180° on the machine (e.g. by a divider). In the process, the tool support swivels as well.
After the machining of the first side, the chuck is swivelled by 180° on the machine (e.g. by a divider). In the process, the tool support swivels as well.

These requirements for more efficient and faster machining possibilities require clamping solutions that are perfectly matched to the watch industry. With the new plate chuck of the “micro technology” series, Röhm makes it possible for the first time to machine both sides of plates with one clamping operation. So far, plates have been machined using two clamping operations: first the top side and then – after reclamping – the bottom side. This reclamping operation takes not only valuable time, but it also introduces a loss of accuracy.

To machine on both sides in one clamping
The cumbersome way of machining plates caused a great deal of unrest amongst the employees of Switzerland’s Röhm Spanntechnik AG. They wanted to offer Swiss watchmakers an efficient alternative that did not cause the machining accuracy to deteriorate. Quite the opposite: The new chuck was to be even more accurate. Hence, an ingenious solution was found together with the German parent plant of the clamping technology specialist with the involvement of well-known watch manufacturers: a chuck that for the first time makes it possible to machine plates on both sides with one clamping operation.

To simply change side
The patented innovation clamps the plate on a console and the first side is machined. Then, the chuck is swivelled by 180° on the machine (e.g. by a divider). During the automatic swivelling operation, the workpiece support also swings to the other side of the plate. This ensures a secure support for the plate on both sides, and overpressure is prevented. Now, the second side of the plate can be machined reliably and without any loss of accuracy.

Heinrich-Röhm-Str. 50
89567 Sontheim/Brenz
Tel: +49 7325/16-0
Fax: +49 7325/16-510
[email protected]


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Microfluidic devices with micron-scale resolutions

Micron-scale resolution – with today’s laser technology, resists for microcomponents can be produced cheaply and quickly. With a new compact laser system, individual trays are exposed directly.

Compact and powerful: The LPKF ProtoLaser LDI exposes resists with structures down to the micron range.
Compact and powerful: The LPKF ProtoLaser LDI exposes resists with structures down to the micron range.

LPKF, in cooperation with the Slovenian company Aresis and the University of Ljubljana, is developing new low-cost, fast processes for structuring of microcomponents. Maskless UV laser direct imaging (LDI) of photosensitive polymers (photoresists) offers numerous advantages over classic mask projection techniques.

Research and development in the field of microfluidic devices and micromechanical systems benefit from fast prototyping processes such as LPKF-LDI. Lab-on-a-chip devices help miniaturize processes and reduce liquid sample sizes as well as waste. This opens up tremendous possibilities for the LDI process in medicine, biology, chemistry, and physics. The applications are diverse – blood and cell analysis, medical diagnosis and screening, sensors (chemical, biological, environmental, and weapons technology; automotive engineering), synthesis of chemicals, and physical experiments.

Manufacturing microfluidic components
Three processes are mainly used to manufacture microfluidic devices on the scale of tens of nanometers to more than a hundred micrometers. The currently prevailing method of photolithography is primarily recommended for large-scale production. For frequent layout changes or low production quantities, though, the process is much too elaborate. In the electron beam method, the structures are written directly onto a resist. The electron beam has resolutions of between 20 and 50 nm. However, special resists, conductive substrates, a high vacuum, and an extraordinarily large amount of time are required for this process. With Laser Direct Imaging (LDI), a scanner-guided laser beam writes structures directly, rapidly, and precisely onto the photoresist without using a mask. This results in extremely smooth side wall edges.

LDI: fast, flexible, and precise
The LPKF ProtoLaser LDI can be used for production of microfluidic devices as well as MEMS, BioMEMS, integrated optics, and photonic experiments with microscale structures. In terms of precision, LDI surpasses all comparable systems for mask projection. Investment costs are considerably lower than for electron beam lithography and for numerous mask alignment systems. LDI even enables structuring of elements with web widths of less than a micron.
However, there are many more features: substrate exposure with a focused 375-nm TEM00 UV laser beam, which can also be used for standard UV resists; software-controllable laser focus (1 – 3 µm) for changing precision requirements; and an integrated camera for fine positioning of substrate and automated self-calibration as well as stitching mechanisms for real-time manufacturing of large samples.
The launch of the ProtoLaser LDI product will coincide with the presentation at MicroTAS in San Antonio, USA, from October 26 to October 30.

Various cylinders machined out of SU-8. Maximum precision at an extremely high aspect ratio.
Various cylinders machined out of SU-8. Maximum precision at an extremely high aspect ratio.

Laser & Electronics AG
Osteriede 7
D-30827 Garbsen

Proto Labs, Inc. launches new additive manufacturing service

Proto Labs, Inc., a leading online and technology-enabled quick-turn manufacturer, has announced the launch of its additive manufacturing service through the acquisition of privately held FineLine Prototyping, Inc. a leading provider of additive manufacturing services.
Proto Labs
The addition of additive manufacturing expands Proto Labs services to address a wider spectrum of need for the product developer. From concept models, to form and fit testing, to functional testing and short-run production, no other company can supply a broader range of quick-turn custom parts with the speed, reliability and consistency of Proto Labs.

A new trump in the game
The addition of an additive manufacturing service is highly complementary to Proto Labs’ existing CNC machining and injection molding services. Historically, 70% of Proto Labs customers also utilize an additive manufacturing service in their product development process. Proto Labs will announce its new additive manufacturing service to its substantial database of over 300,000 product developers to leverage the inherent synergy this new service provides.  “We are excited to launch our new additive manufacturing service,” said Vicki Holt, Proto Labs President and CEO. “The FineLine acquisition is the first step in building this new service. We will look to expand our additive manufacturing capabilities in the US, as well as globally, through both organic growth and potential new acquisitions. Our customers have been asking us to provide additive manufacturing services for quite some time, and now we can address that need. We’re accepting orders starting today.”

A new name : fineline
Fineline Additive Manufacturing specializes in the rapid prototyping of three-dimensional objects. Within Fineline, Proto Labs offer three high-tech processes: stereolithography (SL), selective laser sintering (SLS) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). Whether small parts with precise geometries or large, highly detailed patterns are needed, these  additive processes provide product developers another quick-turn option during early prototyping.

Will this evolution follow in Europe ?  Stay tuned!

Proto Labs
Bernard Faure – Savoie Technolac
18 Allée du Lac Saint André
F 73382 le Bourget du Lac Cedex
Tel + 33 (0) 479 65 46 50 – Fax + 33 (0) 479 65 46 51
[email protected]

In the United Kingdom: [email protected]
Firstcut – cnc machining:
Protomold – injection:  


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