April 12, 2010. The automotive sector is one of the most important customer groups for Germany’s fastener manufacturers. According to statistics of the German Fasteners Association, over 60 percent of total output ends up in the car industry. And of course the usual automotive standards also apply to screws and other connecting elements: high productivity and consistently high accuracy are just as important for production as flexibility. Just-in-time delivery conditions, small batch sizes and increasingly complex part geometries have raised the requirements being made of fastener manufacturers, which are mainly small to mid-size companies. These days, screws and similar fasteners are mainly produced from wire in a forging process. As a specialist for this process, Schuler already unveiled its FormMaster range of machines some ten years ago. In the meantime, Wafios AG, the world’s leading manufacturer of machines for wire and tube processing, took over production and marketing of the machines. By reacquiring the rights to the FormMaster, Schuler has now expanded its product range in the field of horizontal forming. Customers can profit right from the planning stage from the know-how of the machine’s original developer.
“We understand the complex technology involved in horizontal forming very well,” explains Joachim Roske, head of Schuler’s forging business unit in Goeppingen. The lines boast a host of details which ensure high production performance. Screws and other complex, technical, high-volume parts, or hinges and hardware fittings, are manufactured on lines featuring six to seven horizontal forming stations, a wire feeding system and a transfer system whose grippers move the individual parts downward after the cutting process. The process guarantees the production of top-quality parts at very high stroking rates. The FormMaster can produce up to 180 parts per minute. However, it is also capable of manufacturing small batch sizes – in the case of complex shapes needed by the automotive industry, for example. “In order to ensure highly flexible, yet at the same time economic production for the user, Schuler attached great importance to particularly short setup times when designing the lines,” explains Joachim Roske.
Easily accessible die area
This is achieved with the aid of various design details – firstly, in the area of the actual forming process: wire is formed into the desired parts while passing through six to seven forming stations with press forces of 100 to 630 metric tons. All the forming stages are arranged one above the other. “This makes it particularly easy for the operator to access the die area,” says Joachim Roske. The punch, shear, and female die blocks are mounted on a joint punching plate and can be swiftly exchanged with the aid of an auxiliary device; the tools to be exchanged can already be set outside the press.
Changeover with simple programming
High productivity is also guaranteed by the line’s unique NC transfer system. Its special design ensures that the line is quickly available again after a changeover to different batch sizes. The parts are transported from one forming station to the next with the aid of individually controlled, electric servo drives and grippers. Whenever production needs to be changed, the FormMaster ensures it is completed extremely quickly via a menu control system. “No curve shafts have to be set or replaced for the transfer, for example. The servo drive is simply reprogrammed,” explains Joachim Roske. The grippers responsible for transporting the parts can also be easily exchanged. They are located on a removable block unit, which can also be preset outside the press.
Wide range of equipment available
Over the past nine years, the FormMaster system developed by Schuler was marketed by Wafios AG, the world’s leading manufacturer of machines for wire and tube processing. “By reacquiring the rights to the FormMaster, we now aim to expand our product range in the field of horizontal forming again,” says Joachim Roske. Schuler expects this mature technology to offer attractive market opportunities: “At the time of their introduction, these lines were well ahead of their time. With the constant rise in requirements – such as the productivity and quality of parts for the automotive sector – this technology is expected to become even more interesting for many companies,” states Joachim Roske. Moreover, the lines can be adapted extremely precisely to specific needs: depending on the particular FormMaster model, the number of press stations, the maximum wire diameter, the press force, the slide stroke, the punch and female die diameters, and output per minute can all vary. “However, we don’t only advise customers with regard to these performance parameters. As always, we also provide our global, on-site Schuler Service after the line has been installed. By the way, this also applies to lines already in operation which were supplied by Wafios,” clarifies Joachim Roske.
Meet the Schuler Group’s experts at the Wire fair in Duesseldorf in Hall 15 / Stand 15G35.
„FormMaster“ file: By reacquiring the rights to the FormMaster, Schuler has now expanded its product range in the field of horizontal forming
About the Schuler Group
As the technological and global market leader in metalforming, Schuler supplies machines, production lines, dies, process know-how and services for the entire metal-working industry. Our clients include car manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as companies in the forging, household equipment and electrical industry. Schuler is also the market leader in coin minting technology and produces complete wind turbines. The company employs over 5,000 people and is represented by its own facilities and sales offices in forty nations around the world.
The Schuler Group can trace its roots back to a locksmith shop founded by Louis Schuler in 1839. The company has produced metal-working machines since 1852. Schuler subsequently emerged as the international flagship company in the press manufacturing industry. In addition to its numerous foreign subsidiaries, the Schuler Group also comprises Müller Weingarten, which it acquired in April 2007.