Lou Ferriero was working in a plastics vacuum forming house when he identified a market that wasn’t being served. When he started PlasTech Machining and Fabrication Inc., he had one employee (himself) and one manual machine. Today, PlasTech has nine employees, six vertical machining centers, one 5 axis machining center, three turning centers, and Ferriero is thinking about upgrading to a multi-tasking turning center with live tooling and a sub-spindle.
With more than 35 years of experience in the machining and fabrication of plastics, Ferriero is proud that 80 percent of PlasTech’s business is from repeat customers. Approximately 50% of his business is devoted to medical equipment.
“We focus on high quality and precision. We don’t waste time trying to be the cheapest machine shop out there. Our prices are usually in the middle of the road compared to our competitors. We are the best at what we do and pride ourselves on delivering quality parts on time.” It appears PlasTech’s focus on quality versus price is working. According to Ferriero, companies that shipped jobs overseas for cheaper rates have started bringing the business back to PlasTech. “We lost jobs to overseas suppliers about five years ago and most of that work has come back,” said Ferriero.
A big part of PlasTech’s success is due to Ferriero’s commitment to stay current with technology by investing in new equipment. As PlasTech has grown, so has his investment in Hurco machine tools and Hurco technology. His latest investment in a Hurco software feature called UltiMotion continues to provide benefits beyond Ferriero’s expectations. As an example, Ferriero cites a part used for head restraints on hospital beds. “When we machined the parts on our RoboDrill, it took 30 minutes per part. On our Hurco with UltiMotion, it takes 20 minutes and the surface finish quality improved significantly,” says Ferrierro.
UltiMotion is able to simultaneously decrease cycle time and increase surface finish quality due to the underlying motion control algorithm Hurco developed that uses software-based motion instead of conventional hardware-based motion. UltiMotion software has rapid cornering capabilities that allow the spindle to travel through corners at high speed with negligible deviation without overshooting or stopping. Therefore, cycle time is significantly reduced when machining parts with complex geometries and/or repetitive tasks, such as drilling and tapping. Customers with UltiMotion also see improvement in surface finish because UltiMotion minimizes vibration, which results in smoother motion overall.
Flexible Control that Supports NC and Conversational
While PlasTech finds the conversational programming of the integrated Hurco control extremely useful to quickly make a fixture, Ferriero says he uses the NC side of the control for all of his jobs. Keeping his CAM system current is another technology investment that Ferriero continually makes to keep his company up to speed. PlasTech uses Mastercam X5 Cad /Cam software with Mill Level 3 and solids, Mastercam Lathe, verification software, Solidworks, and E2 Shop Systems for shop control.
The Power of Five
Like many prudent job shop owners, Ferriero’s latest machining center investment was a Hurco VM10U 5-axis machining center instead of a traditional 3-axis machine. The VM10U is part of the integrated trunnion style 5-axis machines from Hurco. With X/Y/Z travels of 21x16x19 and a 20-station ATC, the VM10U is one of the highest value 5-axis machines on the market.
Ferriero bought the VM10U to cut down on setups and has realized numerous productivity benefits. "The Hurco VM10U has exceeded our expectations. It has cut down on cost, time, labor and material," said Ferriero.
He cited a specific example for an article that appeared in Manufacturing News. The job entailed the manufacture of plastic components for prototype parts for de-icing the C-130 aircraft. "Without the VM10U 5-axis machine this would have been nearly impossible to get done on time for our customer," said Ferriero. "After offline programming, the setup time on the machine was done in a few hours. The part surface quality and time comparison was much better than expected. It would have been a minimum of 2 days just to make fixtures to machine these parts on a 3-axis machine."
Beyond the technology, beyond the equipment, Ferriero says he continues to invest in Hurco machining centers because of the high quality service he gets from Hurco and Hurco’s distributor, Brooks Associates. Says Ferriero, “The service we get from Hurco and Brooks is second to none. They listen and they are responsive. They understand that your machines are your business.”
Click this link to read the article about PlasTech that appeared in Manufacturing News.
S-3 Industries in Ontario, Canada, produces a wide variety of products using multiple materials, such as aluminum, nickel-based alloys, castings, stainless steel, cold-rolled steel, titanium, exotic metals, and plastics. Customers include aerospace, military/defense, satellite and communications, and enery and resource companies.
S-3 purchased a VM10i due to the power of the integrated Hurco control. S-3 Operations Manager Vince Ferri says, "You can do many production pieces on the VM10i with ease, but it's also great for secondary operations...It is fast to set up, and incredibly user-friendly."
To read the entire article, which appeared in Metalworking Purchasing & Production, click here.
To Keep a Big New Customer, a Startup Company Turns to Hurco to Deliver a Needed Machine Fast.Story and photos by C. H. Bush, editor / As Seen in CNC West, An Arnold Publication Serving the Western Metalworking Industry Since 1981
Okay, here’s the scenario. You’ve dreamed of having your own business from the time you were ten years old in grammar school in Mexico. The kids laughed at you and said, “What are you talking about? That’s for old people. Old people think about that!” But you didn’t care. Later you go to the Institute of Technology in Mexicali, Mexico. After graduation, you work in Mexico for a while as a manual machinist. Eventually you come to America where you work really hard in a variety of companies for a couple of years each, learning all you can at each one. You never stay at one job long enough to rise into management, but again, you don’t care. You’re thinking ahead to your future. You want to learn mold work and how to solve tough machining problems, so you can start your own business. Of course, you’ve been saving your money all along. Finally, you buy a manual mill and stick it in your garage, and you’re in business. But you keep your day job. You get a customer who wants you to build prototypes. You’re happy. Your dream is starting to become a reality. But then that customers says, “Look, we just landed a good contract. We want you to make the parts for us. Can you do it?” You panic. You can’t meet their demands with your manual equipment. And you don’t know anything about CNC programming. What do you do? “That’s exactly what happened to me,” says Carlos Sarabia, founder-president of Mesa, AZ’s Custom Tech Services, LLC. “I had a project for one of my customers, who knew I was working on the side. The parts required a CNC machine to be able to produce them consistently, and all I had was a manual knee mill. I had seen mills with conversational programming before, which I figured I could learn quick, so I called up a company and ordered a CNC knee mill. I told them I needed it in my garage in two weeks. They said fine."CNC operator Fidel Sanchez checks a part produced on a Hurco VM30. In the background, CNC machinist-operator Charles Masters works at a Hurco VM1, while CNC operator Ervin Velasquez sets up the company’s latest Hurco, a VMX30. The company now operates 9 Hurco machining centers, including 2 TM6 lathes, a TM8 lathe, 3 VM1 mills, 1 VM2 mills, 1 VM3 and a VMX30. All Hurcos in the shop have conversational programming, and all are capable of being programmed offline as well, using the company’s seat of Mastercam.
Hurco to the RescueTwo weeks later there was no machine. “I was in trouble,” says Sarabia. “I had told my customer I could do it. They needed parts in a couple of days. I was out of time. Then I remembered talking to Randy Flores from D&R Machine, the Hurco representative in my area, so I cancelled the other order and called Randy.“I asked him if he could get me a machine in two days,” he says. “He said he didn’t have any, but he knew someone who was selling an old Hurco KN3 with an Ultimax CNC control on it. He gave me the information, and I drove there immediately. The machine was in a body shop, never used by the owner. I told him I wanted to buy his machine. And he said he didn’t know if it worked or not. We plugged it in and checked it out. Everything worked fine. I paid him and hauled it back to my garage that same day. I read the manual, plugged it in, and four hours later I was making parts! Hurco had saved my customer for me. I never forgot that. That was back in 2003, and I still have that machine. I love it because it helped me start my business.” Since those early days, Sarabia’s business has grown at an amazing rate, he says, and though it all, he has remained loyal to Hurco. A few months after getting his first Hurco kneemill, Sarabia landed a bigger client, which demanded a bigger machine. “I got a really good customer about two months after I got the KN3,” he recalls. “I was doing all the prototyping for them. They were doing work for military ground vehicles, a lot of protective armor. They finally landed a really good contract based on all the prototyping I was doing. They called me and said they needed a lot of parts, and they wanted me to do them. They liked my work because when I saw something on the design that made the parts more expensive, I’d call the engineers and tell them. Anyway, I knew I couldn’t do the production on my kneemill. I needed a bigger, closed machine, so I called Randy Flores again for help. I told him my customer needed parts right away, and I had to have a vertical mill and a lathe as soon as possible, but that I needed the lathe in my garage immediately. I didn’t have room for the mill.” Once again, Hurco delivered, Sarabia says. “They shipped a TM6 lathe to my house in one weeks,” he recalls. “I never had worked on a CNC lathe before, but it was a Hurco with a conversational control, which I already understood from the kneemill. The lathe was not much different. I got a few hours of training from D&R, and after that I learned by myself. We got the machine set up, and the next day we were running parts. It was very very simple to use, a very simple control. Carlos Sarabia enters data into the conversational WinMax control on a Hurco VMX30 vertical mill. He bought Hurco originally because he needed to make parts fast and didn’t understand CNC programming. He now has 9 Hurcos in his shop.Sarabia moved out of his garage soon after taking delivery of the Hurco TM6 lathe.“I had to find a bigger place fast,” he says. “I had ordered the VM2, which wouldn’t fit in my garage, and I needed to make parts. So, I leased a 1700 square-foot industrial space for two and a half years. Once we got in that space, we just kept growing. Every time we bought another Hurco, we got more business.”In 2009 Sarabia bit the bullet and bought a modern 5,600 square-foot facility, his current location. Today Custom Tech Services employs 3 shop people, plus Sarabia himself, who operates machines and does everything else to keep the business going. Hurco ShopSarabia calls his shop a Hurco shop. “We operate 9 Hurco machines here,” he says. “We have two TM6 and a TM8 lathe, three VM1 mills, two VM2 mills and a VMX30. A lot of people have the idea that Hurco is only for prototype work. But, I started using Hurco for production right from the beginning. And they’ve been great. We’re cutting aluminum, steel, titanium, and we consistently are able to hold tolerances to one or two tenths. I have my first VM2 machine running really heavy titanium, and I still hold tolerance within a couple of tenths on it. You wouldn’t believe how many hours that machine has run. On the first project I got, we were running the VM2 about seven days a week, sixteen hour shifts, probably 90 hours a week. It consistently held tolerance within two tenths and it was extremely reliable. These are great production machines, especially considering the price.”Sarabia operates one seat of Mastercam to handle programming that can’t be done directly on the Hurco controller. “The truth is about 98% of the jobs we run can be programmed directly on the machine,” he says. “Maybe 2% need to be done offline with Mastercam. One really good thing about conversational programming is that it makes it really easy to train new employees. The learning curve is unbelievably short. The controller asks you what you want to do, you answer, and the next thing you know, you’re running parts.What About the Future?As successful as he has been in such a short time, Sarabia might be expected to want to keep growing as fast as possible. “Well, I’m pretty conservative,” he says. “We’ve grown the past two years right through the recession. We’ve paid off all our equipment, so we’re not in debt, which makes it nice. I have a good shop for probably eight people. But I’m a little bit scared to try to move up to become a midsize shop with 20 or more people. That’s kind of dangerous, especially with the economy so unstable. Right now I very happy to sit back and enjoy the success we’ve had, and to give our customers the best quality service we can. Maybe someday when the economy takes off again, we’ll rethink our position. Until then, I’ll just remember where I started and stay happy.”
Read how this sub-contractor reduced machining time from 60 minutes to 8 minutes by switching from 3-axis to 5-axis.
The installation of two new Hurco machining centres has allowed Lancashire subcontractor, A&G Precision, to attract more work and produce components more efficiently in fewer set-ups.
The company is a leading producer of complex components used in key military and civil aircraft programmes. It is also active in other sectors, principally defence, marine, petrochemical, motorsport, rail and pharmaceutical engineering.In addition to batch production of high-precision components, A&G provides a range of additional services including prototyping, sub-assembly manufacture and reverse engineering.
“The VM1 is perfect for our shop. It gives us the productivity of a machining center as our production volume grows without losing fast and easy programming and setup.”
Precision Reflex website
Bryco Machine is a 20-year-old modern-day shop specializing in CNC turning. They've built a reputation as a world-class supplier of precision turned parts for industries including electronics, hydraulics, wireless communications, medical & dental, fluid powers, fiber optics and defense.
In 2004, Bryon Bettinardi, owner of Bryco, decided he needed to expand his capabilities. More and more of his customers were insisting on short run and prototype work in conjunction with the high volume work he was already doing. Trying to do low volumes on his production machines with four to eight hour setup times was not productive but he didn't want to lose these opportunities.
Because of Hurco’s track record of developing technology that increases productivity and for manufacturing rigid machines that last, EMM Precision purchased a Hurco 5-axis VM10U. Keith Dalpe, vice president, says the machine was purchased specifically for a new contract that EMM Precision won for a military part. Regarding the VM10U 5-axis machining center, Keith says, “Everybody loves it. It’s just unbelievable what this machine does.