„A successful start“
CSS: Highly Complex Fixing Clips for the Aviation Industry
The successful implementation of a Bihler 4 Slide-NC System with its increased productivity capabilities was the incentive for Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS) to enter the world of Bihler servo-controlled stamping/forming technology with the purchase of a GRM-NC machine. The GRM-NC machine provides the necessary flexibility, repeatability and performance needed to meet the stringent production requirements at CSS. In a unique collaboration between Bihler Germany, Bihler of America, vr-konstruktion, and the traditional American manufacturer CSS, they successfully developed and commissioned, within a 6 month timeframe, a GRM-NC machine with tooling for a highly complex fixing clip with 7 variations for the Aviation Industry.
Connecticut Spring & Stamping Corporation (CSS), is a leading global manufacturer of precision springs and metal formed solutions. For nearly 80 years they have been a strategic supplier of custom springs, progressive stampings, fine-blanked stampings, machined components and assemblies. The company was founded in 1939, is based in Hartford, Connecticut and has over 400 employees worldwide. They are an OEM supplier to numerous industries including: medical, aviation, aerospace, transportation, and consumer goods. The longevity of the family-run business is due to their extensive experience in developing innovative, advanced, and difficult to manufacture products. “We work very close together with our customers through every phase of the product development process which enables CSS to continuously adapt and improve our manufacturing to meet the ever increasing customer and industry requirements and standards”, explains Steve Dicke, President of CSS. “Outstanding examples of this can be seen by our most recently completed projects: a new servo-motion controlled Bihler 4 Slide-NC system and a Bihler GRM-NC, the latest in Bihler NC Machine Technology.”
Significant increase in productivity
„The purchase of a Bihler 4 Slide-NC system in 2019 was our first project with Bihler of America”, explains Jay Pavelchak who is responsible for tooling at CSS. Our goal was three fold: to modernize our manufacturing processes, utilize our extensive and cost intensive 4 Slide tooling inventory and achieve significant improvements in product quality, productivity and profitability. The solution was the Bihler 4 Slide-NC system which was developed exclusively for the North-American market by Bihler of America. The horizontal stamping/forming system utilizes the VC 1 (VariControl) control platform and the servo modules designed and produced in Bihler Germany. “For CSS, the most important advantage of the Bihler 4 Slide-NC is the ease of using our exiting 4 Slide tooling inventory with minimum adjustments. Often it is as simple as exchanging a tool fixture, a small modification, or the use of adapter”, highlights Steve Parenti, Project Manager for new toolings at CSS. To date, CSS has converted more than 17 existing tools over to the 4 Slide-NC System, and have effectively eliminated four traditional slide machines from their production. “Our production speeds have all doubled, the setup times have been cut by 80 percent and we now have a reliable, repeatable manufacturing process on the Bihler 4 Slide-NC with minimum maintenance costs”, is how Mr. Pavelchak sums it up. In addition, the VC1 control capabilities provide considerable improvements to product quality.
Building upon success with a new Bihler GRM-NC
Wanting to build upon their current success with the Bihler 4 Slide-NC project, CSS made the decision to modernize the manufacturing process of their most complex stamping for the Aviation Industry. This time however, with the purchase of a latest Bihler servo technology machines a GRM-NC. In this project the system involved developing a new radial manufacturing solution for a fixing clip with 7 variations and some of the most critical tolerance specifications stamped and formed at CSS. Previously, the product was produced on an older machine and required costly and time intensive secondary value added operations. Therefore, it was necessary to develop a tooling concept to efficiently handle seven interchangeable tool fixtures, improve product quality and eliminating all secondary operations, should not only run at high speeds but also permit quick changeovers. All this within a timeframe of less than six months, since manufacturing needed to be up and running as early as March 2020. A serious challenge for everyone involved. In September 2019, a virtual kick-off meeting took place. Due to the short delivery schedule it was decided to involve vr-konstruktionen, a decade long established strategic engineering partner from Bihler, Germanx, who spezializes in the design of demanding tooling solutions. Vr-konstruktionen is located in Pfronten, Germany with an office in Florida, which made the choice of a tool design partner easy for CSS and Bihler. In a joint effort with Bihler Germany, vr-konstruktionen developed a tooling concept. “The tooling solution comprised of four floating modules mounted in the press, a flexible, interchangeable fixture, and a bending tool which in this solution has a forward bending action in three levels and is combined with a floating die fixture”, details vr-konstruktionen Managing Director Stephan Vollmair. “This tooling concept in combination with the advantages of the Bihler NC-Technology allows quick, easy adjustments and trouble-free setup in less than an hour.”
Upon completion of initial bending analysis at Bihler Germany at Halblech, vr-konstruktionen began the detailed design of the first tool. The tool itself was then manufactured in-house by CSS. In November 2019 Bihler Germany delivered the machine to CSS. Shortly afterwards, Bihler of America assisted in the installation, final tool adjustments and machine commissioning. After some final and minimal fine tuning, the machine was up and running with production speeds of 120 ppm and meeting all machine specifications – an impressive achievement within a 6 month timeframe! So far, all seven tools have been successfully implemented, and another one is already under construction. “The success of this project is due to the excellent, highly efficient coordinated efforts of all parties”, praises Steve Dicke, President of CSS. “Together we can exploit the full range of our joint expertise and technologies and continue to expand our success in the future” adds Chris Alexander, National Sales Manager for Bihler of America. “The importance of this project for me was to give American companies the incentive and the courage to work together, across borders, for together we are stronger. If we take advantage of the extensive resources we have, we will succeed”, says Andreas Strobl, Director of Operations and Sales North America for Bihler Germany.
Director of Operations
and Sales North America
Connecticut Spring & Stamping Corporation (CSS) in Hartford in the USA was founded in 1939. The family-run company manufactures stamped and stamped/bended parts, machined components and assemblies and is a strategic supplier to many OEMs in the aviation and aerospace, medical engineering, automotive and defense and armaments sectors. The company possesses outstanding experience in the development of innovative, advanced and difficult to manufacture parts and covers all process steps from prototype development through to full production.