One maker's production line is 3-month booked and working overtime
Machining centers are one of the most sophisticated metalworking machinery categories designed and made in Taiwan. Over the past year, some local manufacturers claim to have successfully upgraded their manufacturing skills, enabling them to turn out also CNC (computerized numerically controlled) milling machines and CNC lathes.
Kamioka relies on Japanese technologies to make vertical machining centers.
The production hub of machining centers in Taiwan in the central part for being close to the major downstream suppliers of sheet metal, key components, and surface treatment. Local makers can roll out both vertical and horizontal models, with some beginning to diversify into water-jet cutting machines to meet foreign demand.
An industry insider notes that Taiwan's manufacturers of machining centers, especially those focusing on vertical models, still are competitive in China and globally for offering high quality and performance-to-price ratios. By tapping abundant design and manufacturing experience, some makers can compete with counterparts from Japan, Germany, and the United States in terms of quality.
Sales to Grow in 2011
Along with the global recovery, many local manufacturers of machining centers achieved robust sales growth last year, with the trend to continue this year. Despite having ample experience, local makers prefer to use well-known CNC controllers from Fanuc, Mitsubishi, and Siemens for high-performance. Only a few use PC (personal computer)-based CNC controllers, with some veteran manufacturers admitting PC-based controllers are still not mature enough for sophisticated machining centers.
Taiwan Machine Tool Foundation's (TMTF) figures show that Taiwan exported US$731.652 million of machining centers in the first 10 months of 2010, up 96.9% from US$371.62 million in the previous year. The TMTF attributes the robust growth to strong recovery of the world economy.
To turn out high-end products, Kamioka Corporation in Taiwan has close ties with a Japanese firm specializing in electromechanical integration, whose assistance has enabled Kamioka to achieve big strides in developing reliable, high-quality machine tools. To facilitate development of advanced products, the company has set up an R&D lab in Kobe, Japan and an office in the United States.
Kamioka, founded by president Huang Kuo-shiung in 1965, is one of Taiwan's most specialized manufacturers of high-value-added machine tools, whose rigid structure is recognized as superior to that made by rivals.
Initially the company focused on in-house metal machining as lathing, milling and grinding. Since 1986 and after moving the factory to a new area in Taichung City, it has been producing double-column milling machines and surface grinders, building know-how meanwhile.
A decade ago, Kamioka began designing and marketing CNC multi-tasking lathes, and vertical and horizontal machining centers, which are thoroughly tested before mass production.
“Each Kamioka machine is subject to over 200 quality-assurance tests, including examination during machining, 100% ball bar tested, actual cutting test for 12 hours straight, and at least 120 hours of actual operation before shipment,” said Chad Huang, the marketing director. “Our products are approved by many precision industries like mold processing, musical instrument and linear-way,” Huang added.
The maker has sold some 500 VMC-1000 vertical machining centers without customer complaints and need to repair.
The company markets high-tier products under its own Kamioka brand that is backed by Japanese and self-developed technologies. Besides being a pioneer in manufacturing machinery parts in Taiwan, this maker, over the past several years, has expanded product lines to include CNC vertical and horizontal machining centers, CNC lathes, surface grinders, CNC turning centers, machinery accessories, etc.
Recently, the company introduced the innovative HMC-500 horizontal CNC machining center featuring multisided machining and complex surfaces milling. This new-generation horizontal machining center combines innovative design and high-quality construction to achieve compactness, dependability and affordability, as well as bigger working range.
Other notable features include a four-slide guideway, cast-iron frame with cross-beam reinforcement, powerful 15hp direct-drive, 40-taper spindle, swing-arm ATC with 24-tool capacity, all of which help achieve excellent machining performance while saving enormous resources.
Another innovative product recently developed is the LG-2500 series semi-gantry portal-type machining center, inspired by the semi-gantry crane and equipped with Dural-driven servo motors and Heidenhain linear scales, 30-pc-tool capacity ATC, and Siemens Sinumerik 840D controller. This unit has a genuine semi-gantry construction (patented) on X, Y and Z-axis travel. Overcoming the limitations of typical double-column and gantry-type machine design, the integrated one-piece, L-shaped base allows minimized volume, good accessibility and machining control to achieve convenience and safety.
The biggest innovation of this machine tool, via 20-25% higher performance, is its ability for heavy-duty roughing and high-speed finishing, enabling it to handle molding and production of parts for aerospace, energy, and car industries.
P-One Machinery Co., Ltd., founded in 1992, is one of Taiwan's most specialized makers of innovative and quality-assured machine tools, using specially designed linear guideways and moving-column mechanism on vertical machining centers to replace the comparatively expensive double-column ones.
The 6000H vertical machining center from P-One is equipped with linear guideways and moving-column mechanism.
P-One general manager Chiang Liang-wang says the company has for almost 20 years employed many seasoned technicians, who help to turn out uniquely-designed machines to meet special requirements.
Chiang says the company began by making simple machinery to help domestic carmakers streamline production to boost efficiency of their foreign-made production equipment, being very proud to have helped large manufacturers raise production efficiency.
The company's major product lines include vertical machining centers (box guideway), vertical machining centers (linear guideway), horizontal machining centers, and double-column machining centers.
Featuring high accuracy and rapid travel, the P-One's vertical machining centers are suitable for aluminum milling and drilling. Buyers are actually shown on-the-spot machining procedures to demonstrate the maker's production skills and services.
One of the company's hot-sellers is the VMC-4000-series vertical machining center, which has been modified to eliminate weightiness, slow travel, and high price widely seen in counterparts. Equipped with linear guideways, the machine is capable of 40m/min X-axis and 20m/min Y, Z-axis travel, with feed rate reaching 1-6000mm per minute.
The HMC-600S horizontal machining center features a 600x500mm worktable and 600x700x550mm three-axis travel, especially designed for high-efficiency molding, mass production of parts for being able to shorten manufacturing processes and replace vertical models by removing filings from deep-hole drilling. The Meehanite cast-iron and sturdy box-way construction of the machine ensures high performance, rigidity, speed and stability.
Rapid X-axis Travel
Recently the company introduced the new 6000H vertical machining center equipped with linear guideways and moving-column mechanism. With 6000mm X-axis travel, the machine is suitable for light machining of strips; while the 40m/min rapid X-axis travel features high sensitivity, feed rate and accuracy suitable for aluminum machining to boost production efficiency, as well as construction and extruded aluminum industries' needs for machining, milling and drilling.
Chiang says the machine can replace comparatively expensive double-column machining center, especially to machine strips of aluminum, iron, casting and steel with a moving-column mechanism to minimize machinery volume; while its high-rigidity structure, coupled with heavy-load linear guideways, evenly supports the machine body to ensure minimal deformation, high surface machining accuracy and durability.
The vertical machining center from Everox is exceptionally stable in high-speed and heavy-duty machining.
With many overseas, long-term customers, the maker assures its machines to last over three years without needing repair and maintenance. Chiang proudly says production lines are booked for at least three months and workers are working overtime to fill orders.
Everox Industrial Co., Ltd., founded in March 2000 in Taichung County, central Taiwan, specializes in development and manufacture of vertical machining centers, bed-type milling machines, heavy-duty bed-type CNC (computerized numerically controlled) milling machines, floor-type flatbed CNC lathes, and heavy-duty precision lathes.
“Despite being a relative young operation, all our staffers have over 20 years of experience in machinery development and production,” says Steven Yeh, the president.
Some 60% of the maker's output are computerized models and the remainder being conventional models.
Though not one of the larger players, Everox has more potential capacity than bigger rivals due to having an extensive supplier network, but admits to feeling overwhelmed by fast growing export orders.
The company exports 80% of output under its own Everox brand, with most of its flatbed lathes going to Europe, Southeast Asia, and the U.S., and the bed-type milling machines generally destined for Brazil, Germany, and Southeast Asia.
Yeh attributes the strong demand for the company's machines to their combination of reasonable pricing and high performance. “Our CNC milling machines are nearly as accurate as the more expensive machining centers from competitors in industrialized countries.”
Everox is currently developing machining centers with 1,150mm, 1,300mm, and 1,500mm X-axis travel, as well as another new CNC milling machine.
The company's VMC1150-sereis vertical machining center is exceptionally stable in high-speed and heavy-duty machining because of specially designed structure. The column, base table and saddle are constructed with Meehanite cast iron. All slideway surfaces are hardened, precision ground and coated. The X, Y and Z axes adopt high-precision ball screws directly driven by servo motor without transmission backlash.
The company says it can equip automated milling machines and lathes with any kind of industrial CNC controllers, as well as offering PC-controller models.
The maker recently introduced the EBL 1200/1400 CNC floor-type flatbed lathe with spindle bore of 230, 255, 360 and 410mm. With four-step hydraulic auto transmission in the spindle head, the machine is suitable for cutting of large workpieces.
Everox's CNC milling machines are servomotor driven, making them suitable for either heavy cutting or molding, with manual operation for simple machining.
The company frequently participates in international and regional machine tool shows, including ones in Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
(by Ben Shen)