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DCE Donaldson install RAS folder to help improve sheet metal bending

Metalforming Machinery Makers' Association : 13 November, 2006  (Company News)
DCE Donaldson, based in Thurmaston, Leicester is a subsidiary of Donaldson Co. Inc. of Minneapolis USA, a worldwide provider of filtration systems and replacement parts. DCE Donaldson specialise in the design and manufacture of a range of dust collectors and centralised vacuum cleaning systems.
Their product range comprises products with filtration areas from 1.4 to over 3000m2 to cover all types of dust problems and they are typically used in bulk handing, food processing, foundries, mineral processing and many other industries. In 2003 Donaldson was looking to improve the efficiency of its sheet metal operations, which made the chassis, casing and doors for its filtration units. Many of the panels are large and heavy requiring 2 men to support them when being formed on their existing Press Brakes. A Folder supports the part and clamps it during forming so eliminating the need for operators to support it.

This has 2 advantages; a reduction in operator fatigue and a reduction in operator error resulting in greater accuracy and repeatability. In 2003, Production Manager, Brad Smith, remembered seeing a folder at an exhibition in the NEC, Birmingham and contacted John Murray Machinery, the UK agents for Reinhardt Maschinenbau, known as RAS, to visit and see one of their folders in operation so that he could get a better understanding of the machine’s operation and the potential benefits for Donaldson. A visit to Chubb Security Installations in Bedford was arranged and it proved successful. Chubb had themselves installed a RAS FLEXIbend Multibend 6000 CNC Folder a few months previously and were using it for forming up panels and other components on Bank Cash Machine Systems. The experience of Chubb was a green light for Donaldson, says Brad Smith, “It confirmed our belief that such a machine with its ability to reduce manning, improve quality and give quick changeover when handling small batches would be a real benefit to our sheet metal production. I also liked the flexibility in being able to operate the machine from the front, e.g. for small parts and from the rear for large parts, where the large support table with ball casters makes it much easier for the operator to feed and rotate the part during forming”.

In October 2003 the decision was made to purchase a RAS FLEXIbend 6000 CNC Folder from John Murray Machinery and it was installed and commissioned in January 2004. The machine has 3200 x 3mm capacity with 5 axis CNC, touch screen control, automatic tool clamping and adjustable crowning. Installation, commissioning and training took just 3 days and no special foundations were required. Brad Smith continued: “It was extremely easy and cheap to install with a small footprint and our operators quickly learnt to operate the control of the machine. The transfer of a good proportion of our steel work from press brake to folder went more smoothly than expected and we are now seeing a reduction in problems associated with assembly due to the accuracy and repeatability we are achieving”. Reinhardt Maschinenbau manufacture a wide range of CNC folding machines from the TURBObend for light gauge roofing applications through to the fully automatic 79.22-2 and 79.26-2 Multibend Centres.
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