The B3.ATA press brake has been upgraded with numerous automated devices that make it adaptive and able to react to different materials and products while also offering entirely autonomous operation, in accordance with Salvagnini’s Industry 4.0 concept. Its application reaches from standalone machine to an integrated part of the Salvagnini FMC FlexCell, like for example in a configuration with a L5 fiber laser cutting system and P2lean panel bender.
When first launched, it was described as a revolutionary press brake, a claim validated in part by its ensuing success. Two years on, the B3.ATA press brake, now integrated into the FlexCell FMC, unequivocally confirms its status as a winning, reliable solution fully in line with the dictates of the smart manufacturing and digital factory model. B3.ATA has now also been upgraded with numerous automated devices that make it fully self-adaptive and able to offer entirely autonomous operation, in accordance with Salvagnini’s Industry 4.0 concept.
“So you might be wondering exactly what we have done on the new B3.ATA” begins Nicola Vanzo, Salvagnini’s Product Manager. “Firstly, all aspects of the machine associated with its interconnection and integration in the manufacturing world have been improved with a view to achieving optimal process efficiency and in anticipation of “Industry 4.0”. So we didn’t just look at the hardware side of the machine, relieving the operator of tasks typically associated with machine tooling thanks to the ATA system, instead also making improvements to the software side linked to how the whole system and its features are run. We then went on to integrate B3.ATA into the FlexCell cell as its features enhance and take to a whole new level the flexible manufacturing cell concept: B3.ATA can actually be found in many of our FlexCell installations as it allows customers to team the press brake with the panel bender, aligning them in terms of flexibility to perform batchone production.”
Retooling times have been halved The B3.ATA press brake integrated into the FlexCell is based on four key concepts: to start with, it is a “Kinetic” machine, being entirely electrically driven, meaning consumption levels are remarkably low and hence running costs are also kept to a minimum. Next, as mentioned earlier, B3.ATA is a 4.0 press brake designed for a seamless connection with its surrounding production system – fully in line with the FlexCell philosophy – and even with the world outside: for example, it can be monitored remotely via your smartphone.
In terms of operation, the B3.ATA is also “Kitable” since it is designed to handle the production of parts for kits, whether integrated into an FMC or used as a standalone machine, thanks to the ATA flexible tool set-up system via which it can set itself up and adapt to suit the part to be produced. Indeed, it is worth remembering that the ATA device, which stands for Automatic Tool Adjuster – allows to change and adjust upper tool length automatically, making up time and, consequently, improving production efficiency in the bending of both batch one and parametric parts. Practically in masked time, it automatically sets the tooling length and the width of the variable V-shaped groove.
The ATA device has also been improved compared to the last version: whereas the tool change time used to be around 10 seconds (even though a lot of this was masked time during which the operator was depositing, and picking up the following part), this time has now been cut in half, to the extent that retooling the machine with each bend may even become convenient. “This means that when faced with producing a part featuring various different bends, instead of fitting the machine with a number of different tooling sets at the same time, there is the option of having just one that can be retooled automatically extremely quickly each time” Vanzo goes on to explain. “We have got to the point where the tooling change cycle time is practically the same as the time the operator takes to move from one bending station fitted on the machine to another. So it is more practical to stay in one position and wait that extra second rather than move in front of the machine, dragging the part from one station to another.”
“This has been made possible by optimizing the machine’s cycles as well as by modifying the tool locking system, which has been made more functional and practical precisely to fit in with this Kitable concept! We have effectively halved retooling times.” This is a Ready press brake Provision for inclusion as part of a production system where processing is based on one piece flow is thus an essential design feature for this modern B3.ATA press brake, which is now even more user friendly thanks to the valuable contribution of the new dedicated OptiPress software. On receiving a production list, the software can help the operator determine what sequence is most appropriate for the production job at hand.
In this sense, the B3.ATA is also what Salvagnini terms a “Ready” machine, namely it is always ready to handle any material, no matter how thick, without requiring operator intervention to adjust it for processing. It must be able to adapt to suit production requirements, whether the job involves producing parts differing from each other or handling more sizeable production batches. “The machine is always ready to produce what you need, when you need it, regardless of external conditions: this is the result of a combination of technologies adopted for this press brake” says Vanzo, adding: “The machine is capable of measuring its deflections in real time and adapting accordingly, as well as measuring and recognizing the blank during bending so as to make inprocess adjustments. All this is backed by very high bending accuracy.”
High levels of accuracy and repeatability are actually achieved with the aid of the Angle Measurement System (AMS) and so-called SCrowning system. The former enables the material to be bent to the correct angle, while the latter keeps this angle consistent along the full length of the bend. The AMS angle measurement system uses an optical laser system to take accurate measurements even when dealing with holes and hollows and can calculate spring-back, regardless of the material’s parameters entered in the machine program, and calculate the actual bent angle achieved once bending is complete. The powerful proprietary SiX controller, employing measurements based on closed-loop feedback control, helps the system reach high processing speeds and accuracy.
Any other possible drawback linked to variations in material are then corrected in-process: bending inaccuracies as a result of variations in thickness or changes to bending radius as a result of the rolling direction are checked and managed in-process. Indeed, the Salvagnini SiX controller and AMS system measure the actual thickness of the material at the precise moment that the punch meets the metal sheet and manage press movements with a closed-loop system, using a database of spring-back and thickness values. That way, there is no longer any need to pre-bend, measure the angle and then resume bending. Instead, the system automatically over bends a few degrees so that the sheet will spring back to the desired angle along the full length of the bend. Meanwhile, the SCrowning system adjusts and compensates for the press brake’s crowning value, in real time, based on the actual behavior of the material being bent in the machine, comparing it with the expected theoretical value. By measuring the deformation of the part along the two directrices and adapting to the actual bending conditions, the machine is able to understand whether it’s bending well or poorly along the full length of the bend and react accordingly. “The theoretical deformation is assumed based on the material to be bent and, with the sensors fitted on the structure, we measure the machine’s actual deflection, make a comparison and compensate for this deflection in real time in order to get a consistent bend angle along the full length, from the very first part” Vanzo goes on to explain.