Success Story

FOGS 40 68 C in toolmaking

The second machine cuts (even) better

The real prowess of a machine tool manufacturer is only revealed in truly difficult jobs, such as a "flying" change: Schmedthenke Werkzeugbau ordered a second Droop+Rein milling machine with overhead gantry (Droop+Rein FOGS) from Starrag Technology GmbH, which began operation at the same time as the other FOG machine shut down for retrofitting.

It was an investment they haven't regretted, according to Jörg and Carsten Schmedthenke, Managing Directors of SWB Schmedthenke Werkzeugbau GmbH in Gütersloh. Having begun to smooth large tools, the workshop has become a highly sought-after specialist in large sophisticated tools for automotive bodywork. Jörg Schmedthenke looks back: "We weren't able to smooth large components in the past, because we didn't have the right machines." In 2012, the family operation therefore took on a second-hand Droop+Rein FOG 2500 from the BMW toolmaking facility in Eisenach (pallet: 6,000 mm x 2,500 mm, three-way pallet changer, changer for 60 tools, fork head with three motor spindles, maximum 24,000 rpm), which BMW had already comprehensively retrofitted.

"We have been able to expand our range to include very large structural and exterior body parts" says Schmedthenke. "Today we take on a lot of smoothing work not only for our own products but also for external clients. This means the investment we made in the Droop+Rein FOG 2500 has more than paid for itself." In 2017, the machine underwent another retrofit, in which the golden oldie (built in 1994) was given new drive technology and a new control system, meaning it can now machine parts from high-alloy castings. According to Schmedthenke, the machine has smoothed "sensationally" since the retrofits. 

In 2016 — thanks to the enormous success of the old Droop+Rein machine — the East Westphalia-based company ordered a second one: The Droop+Rein FOGS 40 68 C is also a five-axis machine tool designed for smoothing (X axis: 6,800 mm; Y axis: 4,000 mm, Z axis: 1,500 mm, C axis: ±200°, B axis: ±115°; pallet: 6,000 mm x 3,000 mm, changer for 51 tools, fork head with two motor spindles, 10,000 rpm or 20,000 rpm) with a Heidenhain control system that is tried and tested in toolmaking (iTNC 530 HSCI). "With the second machine, we're smoothing all of the components for the automotive sector," explains the Managing Director. "The investment in a second FOGS machine also provides more security in the event that one machine fails." Indeed, the new Droop+Rein FOGS took over the work of the first machine when it underwent 22 weeks of planned downtime for retrofitting.

"It was very important for us to have a supplier on whom we could rely completely in terms of meeting deadlines and commitments", says the Managing Director. "We agreed on a nine-month delivery time, and Starrag met this 100%." Equally important to the East Westphalia-based company was a very high level of availability, which was at over 95% shortly after commissioning. This reliability was not only thanks to the FOG series but also, according to Schmedthenke, down to the Starrag staff, who "were extremely knowledgeable and paid close attention to detail, down to the last 100th of a millimetre" during assembly.

Droop+Rein FOGS



In line with the Starrag claim "Engineering precisely what you value", Schmedthenke thus received a machine with all the features they wanted exactly when they needed it. This meant it went into reliable operation four weeks after setup, precisely when the Droop+Rein FOG 2500 was due to be shut down. The machine wasn't pre-assembled at the Starrag factory in Bielefeld, but built from the ground up in Gütersloh and put into operation. The mechanical structure was so accurate that only the smallest of optimisations to the geometry was necessary. "The machine geometry was almost faultless immediately after setup", says Schmedthenke happily. "And with a lot of other manufacturers, the geometry can't really be assessed, because their machines have to be significantly adjusted straight away."The East Westphalia-based company is now using the second machine purely for smoothing. "With an additional drive, we could also use it for roughing", emphasises the qualified engineer. "But because of our two-machine strategy, we've decided to employ a machine just for smoothing. The precision needed in toolmaking can only be achieved by roughing on one machine and smoothing on another."

For quality reasons, the company from Gütersloh does not conduct all of the machining in one clamping operation. During roughing, so much heat is transferred into the component that its geometry changes. Schmedthenke: "If I were to start smoothing immediately, the dimensions would 'run away' from me as the component cooled." 

In order for tools — for example for the outer shell of vehicles — to achieve milled perfection, Schmedthenke allows large components to cool off and "relax" for two to three days after roughing before they move on to smoothing. "It means we have to work quickly today, but it's only if we allow the tool a couple of days' rest that we will achieve the desired level of precision" explains the specialist. "And the benefit of this precision can be seen in the short training period needed for the press." 



SWB Schmedthenke Werkzeugbau 

In 1993, Horst Schmedthenke and his son Jörg took over a toolmaking plant in Gütersloh with 13 employees. Two years later, younger son Carsten Schmedthenke also joined the family business. Since then, the brothers have jointly become sole managing partners of the business. Today it is a prosperous company with a very respectable machine park that includes two tool presses and can manufacture and process components weighing up to 100 tonnes. Business is going well, as is demonstrated by the number of employees: over the years this has increased to 87. Toolmaking plays an important role in this, including the production of very large tools for the construction of vehicle chassis. The portfolio ranges from the manufacture of individual parts or layers up to complete tools and tool kits, including the engineering, design, manufacture and incorporation in mass production.

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