Flexium+: Performance and durability

NUM’s desire to offer high-performance, long-lasting and compatible products over time is a win-win solution for users and manufacturers alike. The situation described below is a perfect illustration of this.

Located in La Bussière in the Loiret, France, APTE designs and manufactures thermoplastic parts for the automotive, medical, aeronautical and other industries. 

These parts, which can reach dimensions of more than two meters, are made of different materials, from classic ABS to the latest complex soft touch materials intended, for example, for car interiors. Whatever the material, forming is only part of the process. After this operation, the parts have to be machined for deburring, drilling and various cutouts. During these operations, the stresses associated with hot forming will be released and the parts can undergo deformation, which, although minimal and reproducible, is difficult to estimate beforehand. For this reason, it is essential to be able to adapt the machining programs quickly and as simply as possible.

When Mr. Zedda, APTE’s CEO, decided to increase his machine park to keep pace with the company’s growth, it was clear that the control system would have to be supplied by NUM for the reasons mentioned above as well as for the sake of consistency with the existing park, which was giving full satisfaction. For the machine, Mécanuméric was called upon, whose Normaprofil T series model met the desired requirements and was already part of the APTE fleet.

Mécanuméric, located in Albi, in the South-West of France, specializes in cutting equipment for milling as well as water jet, laser, ultrasonic and other innovative techniques. With several tens of thousands of machines installed throughout the world, its clientele is spread over the industrial, dental and educational fields. Although his company does not have recent experience of NUM equipment and in particular, of the proposed Flexium+ system, Mr. Païs, its director, accepted the challenge, having full confidence in the ability of his services to conclude this project. The technical teams from Mécanuméric and NUM therefore immediately got together to create the optimum solution. After providing initial training, NUM provided technical support to answer questions as they arose, with on-site assistance for very specific operations such as adapting drive parameters to particular motors, including the machine’s 24000 rpm electro-spindle. The cooperation proved to be very efficient and Mécanuméric was able to develop the whole application – including the entire safety part, which is fundamental on this machine as it has two working areas. The support of NUM has always been present as confirmed by Mr. Païs, who indicated his satisfaction with the excellent involvement of the two teams. 

As far as the machine is concerned, it is a 5-axis deflashing machine with gantry and RTCP. It has two work areas that are secured so that it can work in pendulum mode in complete safety. Each zone has its own tool changer located on the right and left sides of the frame, which can be shared if necessary and if safety permits. The positional axes are based on NUM’s SPX series motors, which are characterized by a single cable that transfers both power and measurement signals, thus simplifying connections and minimizing moving mass. The NUMDrive X single or dual-axis drives are of course equipped with the SAMX safety function to ensure safe operation. The EtherCAT bus I/O package includes an MP06 machine control panel as well as around 30 standard or safety terminal modules, including the safety PLC itself and an I/O-Link terminal for the direct connection of sensors and actuators.

An important element for the success of an automation project is the tool or set of tools that will be used. In this respect, Flexium+ requires only one software workshop: Flexium Tools. This software suite runs under the Windows operating system and allows complete development of a machine – from the initial description of its structure through to maintenance of the completed control programs. Parameter setting of the numerical control and drives is achieved using graphic editors, which can be supported by text editors to deal with the very specific cases of certain special machines. The PLC program can be written in one of the five languages of the 61131-3 standard, while the safety PLC is configured using approved function blocks. These programs can be debugged and tuned using the same interfaces, with different priority levels that can be assigned to different user groups to prevent unwanted changes. In addition, Flexium Tools allows the definition and control of graphical visualization pages that can be integrated into the standard HMI for diagnosis or machine control. 

This powerful and easy to implement functionality has been widely used in this project, as can be seen in the screenshot example. Finally, Flexium Tools features integrated software ‘instruments’ such as time or frequency oscilloscopes, ball bar functions, etc., which simplify drive adjustment and facilitate checking the stability of settings.

This partnership once again highlights NUM’s strengths and the benefits you can get from working with the company. Flexium+ solutions cover the entire range of CNC requirements with modern, powerful CPUs, powerful and highly adaptable software, a wide range of I/O peripherals and user-friendly user interfaces. As Mr. Barsanti, Managing Director of NUM France, explains, “NUM’s objective is to offer a modern, high-performance, flexible solution that will remain operational, at a reasonable cost, for many years to come, as is the case for the different generations of APTE’s fleet.” He adds, “APTE’s choice allows NUM to reap the rewards of the quality of our work over the long term.” Nevertheless, pure technology is not the only component of a successful project and we would like to highlight the quality of the partnership. Our commercial and technical teams are at your disposal to promote all of your competitive advantages and allow you to develop them. Mr. Zedda, APTE’s Chairman and CEO, confirms this: “We are very happy to have asked Mécanuméric to provide us with a machine equipped with NUM’s CNC and are particularly satisfied with the cooperation between these two companies.”

(September 2020)