Computers advance stoneworking technology

October 10, 2001
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Omag Mill 5
In this age of technological advances, computers have become a necessity in many businesses, including those in the stone industry. With the addition of computer numerically controlled (CNC) systems to stoneworking machines, fabricating shops have taken advantage of the greater precision, faster speeds and automation that is now available. The result is a higher rate of automated production, which saves both time and money.

Many companies have adopted a widespread use of computers in an attempt to rid the workplace of human error and make stone cutting a more exact process. For companies that produce large numbers of identical products, this accuracy is important.

CNC systems have also added to the increasing complexity of stone fabrication. These machines have played a significant role in the advancement of stone design.

One such machine is the Omag Mill 5. Combining high technology with simplicity, the Mill 5 is a numerically controlled machine with 5 to 12 axes that is capable of forming, routing, engraving, milling, sculpting, sawing, polishing and lathe work on marble, granite and all types of stone. The Mill 5 is a high-output machine both for online production and for single, one-off pieces. The axes are driven by brushless motors combined with ball bearing screws. Linear guides with ball runners assure lasting quality and precision. All parts are protected by PVC bellows and lubricated with oil by a controlled centralized system. Omag machines are distributed in the U.S. by Bergman-Blair Machine Corp.

The Contourbreton NC250 was modeled after the Countourbreton NC350.
Breton has introduced a new CNC model machine of its own -- the Contourbreton NC250. This machine is part of the Contourbreton family and features the same characteristics and high quality as previous Contourbreton machines, but the NC250 is aimed at satisfying the requirements connected to small and medium production shops. Designed by experts in the stone industry, the Contourbreton NC250 does not derive from a glassmaking machine, with all its related limitations, but was created exclusively to work natural and engineered stone. Equipped with a fixed workbench, the size of the functional work travels of the NC250 are 3,200 x 1,500 mm (approximately 125 x 59 inches). It processes considerably large slabs, ensuring a significantly high productivity, which is increased by a movable bridge that leaves the area over the work bench free, facilitating the loading and unloading of pieces in the work area. Equipped with a closed structure, monobloc base in electric-welded steel, the Contourbreton NC250 ensures the highest degree of sturdiness and precision. The base was created in such a way as to eliminate the need for particular foundations by allowing the machine to be directly set on the ground typically found in industrial environments. The work top, designed in rigidly structured aluminum fusion, has special groves on the surface which allow even the highest performing mechanical locking suction caps to be used. With the Contourbreton NC250, all types of stoneworking are possible, according to Breton. Thanks to the presence of the fourth "C" axis, which can be interpolated with the "X" and "Y" axes and to a cutting unit with a tilted axis, it is possible to carry out linear and circular cuts with tools as well as discs. The tilting mandrel enables the user to carry out and polish tilted pockets easily and quickly. The use of the Bretoncam 2.75 Stone software with the new parametric technological macros allows quick and easy programming even for highly complex work processes. The new pre-setting laser on the edge of the machine, combined with the specific software developed by Breton, automatically sets up the work process program according to the actual dimensions of the tools.

StonExpo 2001 will mark the official unveiling of the N-138-S computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining center built by Northwood Machine Manufacturing and distributed by VIC International. The N-138-S was designed and built in the U.S. specifically for the stone industry. Standard features include a 20-hp (15kW) variable speed (0-15000 rpm) spindle motor, 13- x 8-foot work envelope, and a 28-position tool changer. The N-138-S standard CAD/CAM package allows for easy programming, and the movable gantry design simplifies loading and unloading.

Intermac recently introduced a new machine called the Jet, available through AGM. The Jet is offered at a competitive price without sacrificing the quality and reputation Intermac is famous for, according to the company. The machine utilizes a gantry structure, which allows for convenient loading and unloading. The unique spindle design permits continuous production, and the machine can be continuously loaded, since operators can place the next piece while the machine is working, eliminating downtime and increasing productivity. The Jet has a usable bed of 59 x 118 inches and 22 tool positions, allowing the greatest flexibility for machining centers of this type, according to the company. With an optional fourth axis, bowl holes and shaped lamination strips can be cut simply and affordably. All Intermac machines come equipped with state-of-the-art Allen Bradley/OSAI Series 10 controls, which are known for their reliability. The Jet offers many distinct advantages such as on-the-fly tool wear compensation and a self contained robust structure. The Intermac Jet has a user-friendly CAD/CAM system, which allows operators with limited experience to be trained in a short time.

Park Industries Odyssey
The Odyssey Computer Controlled Stone Shaping System from Park Industries has the ability to saw, route, edge and core stone. The diamond segmented saw blade is five times more productive than a milling bit and has lower tooling costs, and the computer-controlled spindle can mill, route and edge decorative radius shapes to a honed finish, according to the company. The vertical spindle cores a hole with a 6-inch stroke, and three-axis control of the gantry motion, cross travel motion, and saw blade pivot motion provides the flexibility to create custom countertop shapes. The Odyssey is also easy to use. The simple, non-CAD controls are powered by Microsoft PC technology, and existing employees can be easily cross-trained, so no expensive CAD operator is needed. A template digitizing system enables the operator to create simple shapes quickly and directly from your job template -- no CAD programming is required. This system can also import DXF files. An edit function allows in-process changes to maximize quality, and the memory holds thousands of custom digitized patterns for repeat precision cuts. The complete job process, various multiple sink shapes and a tool library can be stored to manage multiple job details. This high-production machine can produce curved edgework and complex shapes up to five times faster than manual methods, according to the company. It uses a blade instead of a mill bit wherever possible to optimize tooling and material costs. The blade cuts three to five times faster than a bit and removes 75% less material, according to Park Industries. Customers are also able to get real-time diagnostics, trouble-shooting and answers to their questions from Park Industries service pro-fessionals with modem access on the Odyssey's PC. The company's customer service department can control all programs and functions remotely to answer any questions quickly.

Brembana Maxima
CMS North America, Inc. has introduced two CNC machining centers for the machining of natural and engineered stone -- the Brembana‚ Maxima and the Brembana‚ Junior. The Brembana‚ Maxima's optimum speed and single section mobile bridge structure offer versatility for all machining functions including routing, drilling, milling, grinding, edging, polishing, scooping, lettering and carving. Machining operations are made simple thanks to the new 13.5 kW, 18-hp electro spindle with a speed of up to 15,000 rpm. Other features include a worktable measuring 3,500 x 2,600 mm (138 x 102 inches), a linear tool crib with 22, 26 or 44 stations and EC Standards Certification. When machining stone, the Maxima can edge and polish thicknesses from 10 to 400 millimeters thick (approximately 3/8 to 16 inches) and can machine intricate three-dimensional pieces such as arches, moldings, pillars, high-reliefs and bas-reliefs.

Brembana Junior
The Brembana‚ Junior is an innovative CNC machining center for machining and fabricating stone and glass. The Junior numerically controlled working center with 3 or 4 axes has been developed to address the needs of manufacturers with limited resources or smaller size production requirements. Its maximum speed and compact structure offer versatility for all machining functions, including sawing, drilling, milling, grinding, polishing, scooping, engraving and carving. The smooth work surface enables the operator to arrange the work pieces on the machine with ease and safety. The Junior worktable can handle material with a maximum size of 2,600 x 1,400 mm (102 x 55 inches). The fourth axis option allows for the use of flat and concave blades for straight or curved cutting. The standard model Junior is supplied with an 18-hp and 15,000 rpm electro spindle. The station tool is supplied with 16 positions. When equipped with the optional tilting head, the Junior is suitable for polishing recessed kitchen countertops. Parametric software allows for effective programming of the machine.

Montresor Unica 810-4A
The Unica 810-4A from Montresor is a CNC profiling and polishing machine for flat or bullnosed edges and profiles on larger thicknesses of stone. With a sturdy structure of sandblasted steel, the machine is supplied already assembled and in operational condition. The Unica 810-4A also polishes all linear, flat slanted and bullnose edges with workheads moving on three independent axes. Simultaneously controlled, the axes move the grinding wheels along a trajectory tangent to the programmed profile to cover a 180-degree angle. Shaping and grinding wheels are not necessary with this machine, as the shaping of all bullnose edges from 15 to 100 millimeters is performed using three diamond tools. The conveyor belt slides on a stainless steel ground surface to reduce friction, and it is fitted with a square cross-section guideway recessed into the work surface to avoid belt movements during processing operations. Processing possibilities include independent vertical polishing unit movement and angular movement or synchronized vertical and angular movement to polish flat and convex edges. The Unica 810-4A measures 7,660 x 2,000 millimeters (approximately 298 x 78 inches) and is capable of handling a limitless working length. The machine can process slabs with widths from 180 to 2,400 millimeters (approximately 7 to 94 inches) and thicknesses from 15 to 100 millimeters (approximately 5/8 to 4 inches).

Terzago Plana/SE
Terzago Macchine offers two CNC machines -- the Plana/SE and the Forma/S. The Plana/SE is a universal electronic CNC milling and sawing machine with a rotating table. The most important practical aspect of this machine is the versatility of the bridge saw, which has a single spindle that rotates from 0 to 90 degrees, allowing both traditional cutting by blade or contouring with various different routers (ISO 50 cone). This is a medium-sized machine suitable for producing worked pieces. It can be used for marble or granite blocks up to 350 millimeters (approximately 14 inches) in thickness. The main CNC functions of this machine include the running of horizontal and vertical cutting axes of the head cutting unit, bridge translation and the automatic turntable, as well as table rotation, running of electronic inclination head for cutting, and programs for single-stroke marble cutting and small-step cutting of granite. Automated operational cycles can be utilized so the presence of an operator is unnecessary. CAD-designed profiles and shapes are available on specific programs to convert CAD/CAM ISO programs and to read floppy discs. The Plana/SE's highly resistant construction guarantees stability, low resonance and durability. The water-cooled electric spindle is equipped with manually controlled hydraulic pliers for tool changes, a female conical mount ISO 50 for tools and blade and a rotary cooling water line central to the spindle axis. The head unit runs on refaced chrome guides protected from dust and water by blowers and is centrally positioned on beam guides to ensure stability. A laser beam facilitates the positioning of the blade on the cutting line.

Terzago Forma/S
Terzago's Forma/S is suitable for both small and large workshops in the machining of marble and granite. The machine features a resistant cast iron bridge, main frame and table to guarantee stability, minimum vibration and a greater length of life for the machine. The blade head unit and bridge translation are electrically powered on bearings or brushless motors controlled by an encoder. The sliding guides are protected from water and dust infiltration by guards and an everlasting belt. Standard characteristics include a motorized rotating table with automatic positioning from 0 to 90 degrees, automatic blocking of positioning with hydraulic brakes and a 0- to 90-degree inclinable head. Manual movements can also be performed for right-to-left movements of the slide, forward and backward movement of the bridge, raising and lowering of the head and rotation of the table. Twenty different translation cutting levels can be repeated more than 99 times. Automatic table tilt programming can be employed for continuous circular or orthogonal cutting. Profiles can be set directly from the keyboard. Both concave and convex arches can be set on the rising and descending of any angle of rotation. A specific optional program is available with CAD/CAM reading ability and a converter with ISO so profiles and shapes drawn on CAD can be carried out.

Hensel Model 595
Model 595, a universal 5-axes machine manufactured by Hensel Maschinen and sold by High-Tech Stone for complete machining, features a movable tool slide that makes it possible to machine the workpiece on five sides in one clamping. Thanks to this machine's multiple-axis interpolation capacity and intelligent software, shapes that were previously only possible by time-consuming manual work can now also be created easily by machine. The traverse routes of the axes make it possible to process both solid pieces such as gravestones, plinths and surrounds, and structural elements such as countertops. Grinding and polishing of edges, chamfers, rounded edges or accurately contoured circumferential surfaces can be achieved just as easily as the creation of draining surfaces, recesses, rounded edges and corners. Model 595 weighs 9,000 kg and measures 6,250 x 4,700 x 3,750 millimeters (approximately 244 x 184 x 147 inches).

FCCM3
The FCCM3 CNC contouring and milling work center from Eastern Marble & Granite Supply, Inc. is welded and annealed for smooth operation with minimal vibration. The head carrying the milling tool is supported by a bridge with sealed roller bearing wheels traveling on precision ground steel guides. The transmission is made by means of bevel screws with double buts. Helicoidal interpolation controls the tool movements simultaneously in the three directional axes, and performs cuts on bevel planes. All automatic movements are controlled by a PC/IBM compatible computer installed in the control panel. The operator digitizes the commands, aided by a three-axis controller index located in the electric box. The automatic work programs loaded on the machine digitize the CAD work, which is then copied onto a 3 1/2-inch floppy disc and inserted into the control panel. The FCCM3 is equipped with a standard 5-hp motor spindle, a tool attachment and a booth cooling system. The work piece is secured to the workbench by screw oldfasts and a vacuum pump with six vacuum pads that ready the slab for cutting.

CTEC3
Eastern Marble & Granite Supply, Inc. has also introduced the CTEC3, a CNC contour milling machine designed to shape marble and granite simply with automatic operation. Built for smooth operation and minimal vibration, this machine uses MS/DOS + ISOBASE software to run the automated work programs. The head carrying the milling tool is supported by a mobile bridge on the X and Y axes with wheels and sealed roller bearings moving on precision ground steel guides, while the Z axis moves on a vertical slide. The transmission is made by the TPN or ball bearing screws with precision preloaded nuts driven by magnetic servomotors that are self-controlled by incremental coders. The CTEC3 features a 4-kW electrospindle, and slabs are secured to the workbench using several small vices. A vacuum pump and set of suction cups are optional.

Loffler LBZ
The new Loffler CNC-machining center -- LBZ -- is precise and versatile. The essential features include a titling worktable and a 7 1/2-kW spindle motor. The machine's overall dimensions are 5,000 x 3,800 mm (approximately 195 x 149 inches), and the working area measures 3,200 x 1,200 mm (approximately 125 x 47 inches). A 22-station linear tool holder and automatic tool change feature are also included.

Ghines CNC tooling

Accessories

Braxton-Bragg carries a complete line of Diamond CNC tooling by Ghines of Italy. Ghines has created a CNC tooling system that will profile and polish marble, granite, agglomerate and other engineered stone with excep-tional results, according to the company. The six-step CNC process includes three metal-bonded wheels for profiling and three polishing wheels. The company claims this six-step system will out perform the traditional seven-step process while saving time and money.

Marmoelettromeccanica CNC tooling
Regent Products and Marmoelettromeccanica USA are offering new technology in profiling and polishing bits for use on CNC machines. Available in hundreds of shapes, these bits are designed to give the user a higher quality polish than was previously possible with the available technology, according to the company. The set of seven diamond bits consists of two metal bond milling bits and five honing and polishing bits that take the edge to a 3,500-grit resin diamond finish, eliminating the need to touch up the edge as is necessary when using the common clay bond abrasives. By eliminating the need to touch up the polish, the operator can expect to achieve a more cost-effective product from their expensive CNC machines, while the cost per foot is lower due to the longer life obtained by using all diamond wheels.

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