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To increase its capacity and keep pace with increasing demand, Hermitage Sheet Metal recently installed a Strippit ST-1212 20-tonne CNC turret punch press manufactured by LVD Company.

The flexibility of the turret configuration along with a fully programmable ram system has reduced Hermitage’s setup time by 50 per cent and increased throughput by 25 per cent.

Hermitage was established in 1965 producing parts for electronics companies.

The business has steadily expanded and diversified into high-accuracy sheet metal work.

The 25-person shop fabricates precision electronic components for the aerospace and defence industries, as well as for medical applications, ultrasonic, radar and analytical instrumentation.

The company’s 12,000ft2 facility houses fabrication, welding, CNC machining and plating equipment.

Hermitage also provides design services.

Increasing demand for precision output and quick turnaround spurred managing director, David Spencer, to add the Strippit ST-1212 punch press, which replaced older punching machinery.

Spencer selected the ST-Series machine because of its flexibility and productivity: a 29-station turret capacity reduces setup time and a fully programmable ram provides enhanced punching and forming capabilities.

Having an GBP80,000 investment in thin turret tooling, Hermitage wanted a modern technology machine that could utilise existing thin turret tooling.

Spencer researched four punch press manufacturers and ultimately selected the Strippit ST-1212 based on his experience with a past Strippit machine and the relationship established with LVD prior to and during the sales process.

The ST-1212’s turret design allows every station to accept shaped punch and dies.

Hermitage keeps a selection of commonly used round and shaped tooling in the turret, thus minimising subsequent tool setups.

Three 88.9mm gear-driven auto-index stations are programmable, allowing shapes to be punched at any angle, which adds flexibility and helps provide a high finished part quality for Hermitage’s applications.

The large auto-index stations accept a variety of indexable multi-tools to expand turret capacity and further reduce setup requirements.

Two 50mm turret stations are used to house larger tools.

Hermitage takes full advantage of the turret, using form tooling to reduce secondary operations and wheel tooling for quick and efficient cutting or forming of straight or curved shapes without nibbling.

An interface provides graphic tool images to aid with selections.

Operators interact with a single graphic screen.

No tool measurements or electronic adjustments are necessary for routine tooling applications.

The operator simply selects the tool to be used – punching, forming, wheel tool, scribing, marking or tapping – and the control software automatically determines the correct stroke settings.

‘We’re able to rotate larger tools, even forming tools, which gives us more tooling and turret flexibility,’ said Spencer.

‘And we now have wheeling capability – the ram/stroke for forming works well, which is quite useful for strengthening ribs in thinner aluminium,’ he added.

Hermitage’s punch press features a fully programmable hydraulic ram system.

The programmable ram control minimises part spring back (with a programmable ‘hold time’ under pressure) and produces accurate formed parts.

Strippit’s Smart Stroke system maximises productivity by automatically calculating the optimum hover height for every stroke of the ram.

The tool is kept close to the material on short table moves.

As hits move farther apart, the software automatically increases the ram hover height to provide clearance for sheet warpage.

The ST-1212 handles material thicknesses up to 6.3mm.

Hermitage punches mostly thin materials, stainless steel and aluminum from 0.5 to 1.6mm, though occasionally will punch thicker workpieces up to 5mm.

The large 1,250mm throat and the capability to handle sheets up to 1,250 x 2,500mm allows for better material utilisation, which has reduced Hermitage’s scrap levels.

The ST-1212 is equipped with a GE-Fanuc 180i CNC control.

The control allows the machine operator to edit, input or output programs during machine operation to reduce setup and improve productivity.

The features and capabilities of the punch press have made it easier for Hermitage to meet its precision standards and deliver precision product.

‘We’ve reduced our setup times and programming is far easier,’ said Spencer.

‘The uptime on the machine is high, which helps us get more production through.

‘The machine has speeded up our entire fabrication process,’ he added.

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