A small but ambitious prototyping shop in Barcelona has invested in a Haas UMC-750 five-axis machining centre. The machine, which has cut set-up times dramatically, is producing complex parts to tight tolerances, from materials ranging from various aluminium alloys, to titanium and surgical-grade stainless steels.
It’s not easy to start a machining business. Often, success depends on bringing something new to the market. For their USP, the founders of Barcelona-based Blumeprot decided in 2011 to create a subcontract machine shop specialising in higher-value parts, particularly prototypes and small series pre-production batches.
The idea was inspired by the rise of 3D printed parts. While these are currently popular with engineering companies, designers are often frustrated at receiving parts that are not made from design-intent materials. Blumeprot seeks to address this issue with CNC machining. However, to keep up with the speed of 3D printing, the company relies on its Haas machine tools, the most recent addition to which is a UMC-750 universal machining centre.
“We already had one small, five-axis model from another machine tool manufacturer, so we were aware of the potential savings in set-up time, but we needed another with larger capacity,” explains company Director, Josep Marsol. “We were attracted to Haas because of the impressive quality-price ratio. We also discovered that not only is the Haas UMC-750 the perfect size for our requirements, but it also is quicker and more precise than many other machines on the market, and produces better quality surfaces. Some of our clients want aesthetics, others want accuracy; many want both.”
Around half of the output at Blumeprot is destined for customers in the medical device sector, including the likes of Grifols, a market-leading manufacturer of blood-plasma processing products. A further 20 percent of throughput is for the automotive industry, for clients such as VW and Seat, as well as motorcycle producers. Other sectors served include motorsport, aerospace, and science, to name but a few.
“Each application requires a different approach to manufacturing, and our mission is to advise clients with the solution that best fits their needs,” says Mr. Marsol. “We are always happy to help analyse the functionality of prototypes. We also collaborate with clients to study a redesign in order to achieve lower costs and maximise the benefits in subsequent volume production.”
The parts being machined on the Haas UMC-750 on the day the photos were taken were a batch of wheel hub components for a French rally car team. The complex parts, which are made from magnesium, require the production of numerous features, including scallops, ribs, bosses, irregularly shaped pockets, and inclined surfaces, some to tolerances of 0.02 mm.
Mr. Marsol says that the aim of Blumeprot is always to deliver very-high-quality parts quickly, at the right price. To help with this, there’s a seat of Missler TopSolid at every machine in the workshop, so each machinist has full responsibility. Shop floor staff here are clearly more than just operators.
“We are like a training school,” Mr. Marsol laughs. “All of our machinists are trained to a very high standard. We need them to be switched-on, so that we can meet our tight deadlines, especially since installing the UMC-750, which has already helped us attract more work.”