Workpiece clamping technology powers productivity

17 / 11 / 2021

The word "flexibility" runs like a red thread through all areas of the company ASP Automation GmbH, D-91757 Treuchtlingen. Flexibility is ASP's credo, referring to very creative complete solutions in production and assembly automation as well as in special machine construction. In addition, the company's own products, the ASP aluminium profile construction kit and Vario buffer conveyor belts, are characterised by maximum flexibility in terms of application and use. In addition, the production of parts for customers and for ASP's own products is organised in a highly flexible manner, which of course also includes efficient multi-machine operation by highly qualified personnel. Founded in 2000 by the current owner and managing director Werner Schramm, the company has developed from small beginnings into a strictly technology-driven enterprise, which on the one hand deals with the development and construction of automation solutions as well as special machines on behalf of customers, and on the other hand with the development, construction and distribution of the already mentioned own products. ASP now has 18 employees, 10 of whom are skilled workers in the mechanical production area alone. Contrary to the often observed trend towards pure system integrators, who primarily use components available on the market, Werner Schramm relies on a high degree of in-house production, which is currently around 90%. And there is a good reason for this: "As a special machine builder and manufacturer of our own products, we have to react very flexibly to customer requests and depend on both the best quality and a high degree of deadline reliability for problem-free assembly of components and devices. In order to guarantee this and to be able to act flexibly and quickly, we decided early on to manufacture construction parts ourselves whenever possible and sensible and to commission efficient partners for the supply of standard or standard components."

New CNC machining centre vs. existing workpiece clamping technology
With increasing business volumes and the growing volume of orders, especially for the in-house product Vario buffer conveyor belts, capacity problems soon arose, which ASP countered with the intensive evaluation and subsequent procurement of another new 3-axis CNC machining centre. The solution of upgrading a 3-axis CNC machining centre with a large working range (X-axis travel = 1,000 mm) with a CNC rotary or swivel table as the 4th axis instead of purchasing an expensive 4- or 5-axis machining centre proved to be absolutely correct in retrospect, based on the range of parts to be machined. Werner Schramm had already foreseen when he bought the CNC that the performance of the CNC machining centre with the conventional workpiece clamping equipment would reach its limits and therefore contacted the Swiss specialist for workpiece clamping technology, Gressel AG, CH-8355 Aadorf, among others. After a visit by Günther Hirschburger, Sales Engineer Germany South at Gressel AG, a solution was proposed which was completely convincing and on the basis of which the order was then placed for the delivery of various components from the Gressel clamping technology modular system. In detail, these are several mechanical zero-point clamping systems gredoc in square and round versions, several centric clamping vices C2 125 and finally several single clamps gripos.

With the Gressel modular system for individual, cost-effective solutions
With these clamping technology components, Werner Schramm and colleagues realised a highly flexible universal clamping vice. Depending on the structure, configuration and equipment, this allows both rational 3-axis machining on the machine table equipped with an adapter plate and, after mounting the CNC rotary or swivel table, 4-axis (complete) machining. In order to keep the set-up/changeover and assembly effort as low as possible, as well as the unproductive downtimes caused by machine standstills, Werner Schramm and the machine operators came up with even more. Namely, they created the aforementioned machine table adapter plate and placed five gredoc square mechanical zero-point clamping systems on it. These five zero-point clamping systems optionally accommodate the CNC rotary/swivel table mounted on a base plate or, if required, one to five gripos single clamping vice or up to five C2 125 centric vice. In addition, it is possible to fit large workpieces with gredoc bolts and thus clamp them directly onto the adapter plate. But that's not all for the flexibility of use and application, because four gredoc square mechanical zero-point clamping systems are embedded in the swivel-axis base plate of the CNC rotary/swivel rotary table and, depending on requirements or machining needs, these also accommodate one or up to four C2 125 centric clamping vice as well as blank blocks fitted with gredoc bolts so that they can then be (completely) machined on 4 axes.

In conclusion, Werner Schramm commented on the application and utilisation possibilities of the Gressel modular clamping system in his company: "With the support of Gressel and Günther Hirschburger, we have found optimal clamping solutions in order to be able to machine a very wide range of parts highly flexibly and with increased productivity. Depending on the number of pieces, workpiece requirements and running time, we machine small to medium-sized individual parts, small and medium series or even large frames and base plates on 3 or 4 axes. And all this on the basis of one and the same compatible workpiece clamping technology in single or multiple clamping, which in many cases makes multi-machine operation and use possible. We hardly need any special clamping equipment any more and, thanks to the universal installation of Gressel's zero-point clamping systems, we are always equipped to react quickly to part requirements. We will continue to follow this path in the future, because we want to utilise the existing performance of the machines to the maximum and flexibly at the same time."

The CNC turning/swivelling table mounted on the machine table with four flush-mounted mechanical Gressel zero-point clamping systems gredoc round. The workpiece block on the right is clamped directly on the gredoc zero-point clamping systems of the swivel table base plate via two gredoc bolts.

A mechanical Gressel zero-point clamping system gredoc flush-mounted in the swivel table base plate. The clamping/unclamping process is carried out by simply turning or opening with an hexogen key through the hole at the front.

The swivel table base plate can be equipped in different ways, for example with three Gressel C2 125 centric clamping vice; this means that short or long workpieces can be clamped and completely machined on 4 axes..

For successive 4-axis machining of identical or different workpieces, the swivel table base plate can be equipped with four Gressel C2 125 centric clamping vice.

Werner Schramm (right), Managing Director ASP Automation GmbH, Günther Hirschburger, Distribution Engineer Germany South at Gressel AG, in front of the 3-axis CNC machining centre from ASP Automation GmbH that has been upgraded for 4-axis machining.

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