Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Turbocam’s 5-Axis Machining & Synergistic Wenzel America Partnership

Innovative engineering requires innovative solutions. TURBO CAM International produces over a million precision turbo machinery flowpath components every year and has been on the cutting edge of 5-axis machining for almost three decades.

Bold core values, bold solutions & synergistic partnerships

The key components of the TURBOCAM story have always been threefold—

  • Dedication to their primary mission of honoring God by conducting business with the highest integrity for each other, their customers and suppliers.
  • Bold and innovative engineering solutions in turbomachinery.
  • Synergistic partnerships with companies sharing similar values and the same dedication to precision and bold innovation for customers.

Off-the-Shelf CMMs could not keep up with TURBOCAM's growth

TURBOCAM  was an early adopter of 5-axis machining, which the company used to produce high performance turbomachinery parts in diverse industries since 1992.  In 2004  they built a new, fully automated plant in Barrington, New Hampshire. Operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (unmanned on Sundays), the plant could produce over 400,000 impellers a year and the next stage of growth required a new innovative 5-axis inspection system.

“We were looking for a partner that could offer us a full engineering solution, not just off- the-shelf CMMs and canned software,” said Dave Romaine, TURBOCAM’s Quality Manager.

“At that time we were working with one of the largest metrology companies in the world, but their measuring systems are all closed, black-box systems, with no way for us to innovate.”

Their search soon brought them to Wenzel America in Wixom, Michigan. TURBOCAM’s team knew WENZEL was the world’s largest family-owned metrology company and that they were also familiar with 5-axis pioneers, Renishaw, since Wenzel used their probes exclusively on their CMMs.

Wenzel provides complete engineering solutions, not one-size-fits-all

“Coupling our customized milling directly with the inspection process was vital to increasing throughput and quality,” Romaine continued.

“Our engineers needed to be able to code the inspection software. When we talked to them about OpenDMIS and its capabilities, we saw a solution that would work for us in all locations and work for our customers, since it was based on the DMIS standard.”

When the TURBOCAM team arrived, they were shown a WENZEL LH87 that happened to be running a Renishaw REVO scanning probe.  As 5-axis early adopters, they were familiar with Renishaw’s newest developments, but this was only the second REVO head produced, and their first in-person look at its capabilities.

“After the demo and meeting their people, we knew Wenzel America was a company we could partner with,” Romaine explained.

“We wanted a measuring machine integrator not just another CMM supplier, and that’s what they were.”

5-axis inspection with WENZEL LH CMM & 3rd REVO head ever made

Partnering with Wenzel America would allow TURBOCAM to use its engineering resources to develop the custom inspection processes it needed as a 5-axis machining company. Its first Wenzel machine would be an LH 8-10-7 CMM with the third REVO probe head ever produced. Today, the company has more than half a dozen Wenzel/REVO systems in operation.

Family-owned personal service with global metrology company

Another key to TURBOCAM’s choice of Wenzel was that along with the personalized customer service of a family-owned company, the company  is also global. This enabled the Wenzel America team to liaise with WENZEL in Europe and Asia on the company’s behalf.  TURBOCAM could work closely with the Wenzel America team who knew the company’s business best and ensure  its inspection system and CMM needs were fully met with standardized measuring processes in TURBOCAM’s plants in all other locations.

Today, TURBOCAM has manufacturing plants in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Romania, England, and India, with  sales offices in the Netherlands, Japan,  and Taiwan.  Only WENZEL machines are used for all the company’s inspection processes of over a million turbomachinery parts per year, creating satisfied customers and over $100 million in revenue for the company.

Wenzel offers CMM training at a level no other supplier can match

Another area Wenzel America has outshone any other CMM supplier, according to TURBOCAM, is their CMM training. Wenzel helped TURBOCAM’s Quality Assurance team train and certify its own in-house technician to do ISO 10360 calibration and maintenance of the company’s CMMs.

“What other supplier does that?” Romaine remarked.

"It allows us to maintain our uptime and fix most things ourselves with very little lost production.”

Without the Wenzel America relationship we could not do what we do

With parts that fly on the Space Station and in the Delta 4 rocket engine and others that provide boosts for the cleanest and most efficient diesel engines in the world, TURBOCAM has grown from 25 employees in 1992 to over 700 employees across the world today. While the majority of the company’s output is for automotive sector, it excels in various aerospace-related applications and supplies some of the biggest names in the industry.

In particular,  TURBOCAM recently increased production for one aerospace client exponentially, requiring the highest performance, highest throughput inspection to maintain needed output.

“Without our relationship with WENZEL and the 5-axis inspection processes we’ve worked on with them over the years, there is no way we could meet demand and quality for our customer,” Romaine stated unequivocally.

“We’ve worked with them very closely on the software and systems to create blade inspection processes we would not otherwise have.”

More people touched by TURBOCAM’s primary mission

For TURBOCAM, this has meant a level of growth that has allowed the company to further its mission of freeing people from modern slavery in Nepal and providing education, clean water, and opportunity for over 1,000 children in India, Nepal, and South and West Africa.

TURBOCAM and Wenzel America’s synergistic partnership has helped both companies expand their markets and create products that serve their customers better for more than a decade. More than that, it has also helped create far-reaching effects greater than any bottom line. It is a partnership that, for both companies, looks to be only just beginning.

About TURBOCAM International
TURBOCAM is a recognized world leader in 5-axis machining technology with over 150 multi-axis milling machines producing prototype and production parts in 9 countries. We offer our expertise in 5-axis programming and milling of integrally-bladed parts up to 1100mm such as: aircraft engine blisks machined from solid forging, axial and centrifugal impellers, turbines, compressors, and turbochargers.

TURBOCAM’s strength in manufacturing software has helped make prototyping a major emphasis of the company. We produce over 500 unique part designs per year and have grown into many areas of advanced part development and production for passenger, jet aircraft engines and rocket engines. TURBOCAM is ISO 9001:2008 and AS9100:2004 certified. We are also Nadcap® certified for aerospace coatings.

For more information about TURBOCAM, visit their website at www.turbocam.comFor product info contact Ollie Sexton, VP of Business Development.  And for information about TURBOCAM’s Quality Assurance, contact David Romaine, Corporate Quality Manager.

What’s it Mean for a Business to Think Locally and Act Globally?

  • Innovation.
  • Technology.
  • Entrepreneurship.
  • These aren’t just words.

They’re the cornerstones of the American Dream.

They’re the legacy of our state. 
And they’re the building blocks that put the City of Detroit on the world stage for the last century.
They’re also what drive one of the most important non-profit business groups in our region - Automation Alley.

Regional Business Groups are key drivers of innovation and economy 

In every area of the country there are technology and business groups that help to support and expand their region’s businesses. Some of these groups hold networking events, provide access to business expertise, interface with regional governments on their behalf and even lead international trade missions to encourage foreign investment and help develop exporting opportunities.
For more than 15 years, Automation Alley has provided all these functions and more to Southeastern Michigan’s business community.  Since 1999, they’ve grown to over 1000 member companies, generated over $325 million in export sales for those members and invested more than $8.5 million in regional high-tech companies.
Their current vision is “To make Southeast Michigan globally acknowledged as the leading technology and innovation region in the United States by 2020.”

Spotlighting technology companies - One small part of their mission

A key event to further this vision is their annual Technology Industry Outlook.

Along with Anderson Economic Group, they benchmark Southeast Michigan against 14 other technology centers around the country and provide an in-depth look at how we stack up.  This year Wenzel America was invited to participate and display some of our most innovative metrology technology.

Prior to unveiling the report they hosted a Technology Center Spotlight that featured Southeastern Michigan companies who provide technology and innovation that support the region. 

Wenzel America shared exaCT desktop 3D scanner at this year's event

We featured our exaCT Computed Tomography desktop 3D scanner, showing how it can be used to measure and analyze complex parts, improve quality, and support manufacturing.
Zach Brown explaining Wenzel's 3D Scanning
Technology to Dan Raubinger of Automation Alley
Wenzel America's Drew Shemenski
shows off the exaCT desktop 3D Scanner

Also invited was Fisher/Unitech, a Troy-based IT solutions company for the discrete manufacturing industry and leading 3D printing reseller, who shared some of their latest 3D printing solutions.

 Technology Industry Outlook for SE Michigan brings a few surprises

At the main event following the technology spotlight, Automation Alley’s people shared the Technology Industry Outlook report for 2015. Not surprisingly, SE Michigan ranks 1st nationally in the number of advanced automotive industry jobs and businesses.
Other results were a bit surprising though, including how much our region offers in terms of technology, education, and engineering. We rank 1st nationally in the number of architectural and engineering jobs and 3rd in the number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degrees earned. You can read the full report here on their site.

Being part of the community is a key to every company's success

For Wenzel America, joining Automation Alley has allowed us to become a more active member in this thriving community. Of course, we see it as a way to grow our business, but we also see it as a way to help strengthen the manufacturing market and the community of Greater Detroit and Southeastern Michigan as a whole. 
Recently our team visited the Wenzel world headquarters in the small town of Wiestahl, Germany. While there we saw the importance of being a part of a family-owned company that supports its own community. We saw firsthand what it means to think locally and act globally. Perhaps that is the most important innovation for the future of business.

Joining Automation Alley could be a good fit for your company too

Automation Alley’s mission and vision mirrors ours and if your company headquarters are in Southeast Michigan, take a look at what they do and what they offer. You might find their goals match yours too.

If you’re reading this from somewhere else in the country, I would encourage you to look for a similar group in your own area. You won’t be sorry.


How Can 3D Printing Streamline Your Production Floor?

Guest Post by Rob Stipek of Fisher/Unitech

Fisher/Unitech 3D Printing
For most in the manufacturing industry, the driving factors for change are getting a project done faster, cheaper and with improved quality. This is where additive manufacturing or 3D printing has really begun to find its niche with manufacturers and streamlining production floor tooling.

Modern industrial 3D printers provide a wide range of printer sizes and strong durable materials that manufacturers are applying more and more for making production floor tools.

Jigs, fixtures, templates and gauges are a lot like the players in a basketball game.  When everything is great you don’t really see how important each one is, but their significance becomes very evident when problems arise.

Manufacturing relies on tools to maintain consistent quality and ensure production efficiency. Traditional methods for the production of manufacturing tools can be expensive and time-consuming.  This limits the amount of tools on the floor and slows down production when a tool is not functioning properly.

3D Printing saves automotive manufacturers time & money

Having a professional 3D printer can allow a manufacturer to produce tools in-house, easily optimize designs and increase the number of tools on the production floor. Engineers are also able to evaluate tool performance and make quick, cost-efficient adjustments to the design as needed.
Because 3D printing is the process of adding layers of plastic to a tool until it’s completed, you can exponentially expand the range of design options available compared to a CNC-machined tool.
Labor and time involved in learning how to utilize a new technology is a major factor for implementation in any shop. 

Short learning curve means easy implementation on production floor

Fortunately, 3D printing is an easy-to-utilize technology. The learning curve is low. If you have your CAD geometry available for jigs, fixtures, templates or gauges it’s as easy as making a few mouse clicks and sending the design to a 2D printer.
Users can print one or more tools at the same time. Generally, printing a new 3D part takes only a few hours, giving workers the most up-to-date, accurate tools available almost instantly.
Another benefit of an in-house 3D tool printing system is the reduced worker fatigue. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Polyjet plastic materials have far less weight than traditional metal CNC tools and yet similar performance.
The types of manufacturers currently using in-house 3D printers for tool production range from automotive suppliers to medical device producers and many others.

About Fisher Unitech

FISHER UNITECH is a provider of IT solutions to the discrete manufacturing industry. Specializing in software and hardware solutions for industrial and computer aided design, manufacturing, design automation, and more. Headquartered in Troy, Michigan, they have locations in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  Fisher/Unitech is a leading reseller of the Solidworks family of 3D printers and tools for use on the production floor. FISHER/UNITECH is located at 1150 Stephenson Hwy. Troy, MI 48083.

For more information about the latest 3D Printing machines to print production-floor quality tooling and parts contact Rob Stipek, Rapid Technology Marketing Specialist at 248-577-5100 x7130 or visit