Zero to 5-Axis: Getting Up to Lean
Wolfram Manufacturing, located in Austin, Texas, started with a blank slate, an empty shop and the goal to become a lean manufacturing shop that provides competitive turnkey contract manufacturing services “Made in the USA.” Their goal was to use modern equipment to run single piece flow parts through the shop and have the ability to be flexible in the size and shape of parts they could produce. For their first machine purchase, Wolfram looked for a 5-axis machine that would combine the capabilities of several machines. One of their key considerations as a startup was support, so they selected Hartwig, the central Texas Okuma distributor, who is known for great service. The team chose an Okuma MULTUS B400II decked out with high-pressure coolant, 10k RPM mill spindle, automated sub spindle, automated part probing, automated tool setting, and Tool Monitoring Adaptive Control from Partners in THINC member Caron Engineering.
High Tech Machines Get Wolfram Up To Speed
Just months after getting the first part out the door Wolfram received their first large order for 1,600 pieces. With a reliable process and consistent quality checks they were able to run 24 hours a day with quality specialists, rather than machinists, operating the machine. Wolfram successfully delivered to the customer on time and has continued to do so.
About a year and a half after the company was founded, Wolfram started looking at buying a second machine. They wanted something that had different capabilities and that would fit into their lean manufacturing concept. Based on experience with the MULTUS, Okuma was their first choice. Wolfram chose the LB3000 EX because its feature set complimented the shop’s current configuration; most notably, its sub-spindle, parts catcher, and Y axis.
Along with this transition they brought in a CAM software package so they could simulate machine movements and program the parts away from the controller. Wolfram’s engineers can now focus more on the process design of a part, program tool-paths from start to finish, load the program onto the network, and have confidence that the finished part geometry and machine movements will mirror those seen in the software.
In the next year, Wolfram plans on getting a robotic arm working to run parts overnight and double production capacity. In their quest for competitive advantage through lean manufacturing they’ve gotten up to speed quickly with the help of their Okuma distributor, and Caron from Partners in THINC. No doubt they will keep accelerating.
Check out the full story sent to us by Wolfram, describing their journey so far.