First Fidia GTF/Mv3 high-speed gantry machine in North America built at Paragon Die & Engineering in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Paragon Die & Engineering is one of Italian-based high-speed milling machine builder Fidia’s best customers. They now have four Fidia milling machines, including aY2G twin-spindle gantry machine, the largest high-speed milling machine that Fidia has ever built.

When Paragon’s president, David Muir began discussions about purchasing their fourth Fidia machine, the new 5-axis GTF/Mv3, Fig. 1, he was concerned about the lead time for delivery. Paragon needed the machine faster than the 10-12 month delivery time frame that was initially proposed.  After discussions with Dr. Giuseppe Morfino, CEO of Fidia Company, and Jorge Correa, Fidia’s North American VP of Sales, a unique plan was developed for building the machine, from the ground up, on the manufacturing floor at Paragon’s Grand Rapids facility. The machine was subsequently built, and was up-and-running in seven months.

The machine castings for the GTF/Mv3 machine were poured in Ohio, delivered to Paragon and machined on their big boring mills. Paragon is well known for their large and very accurate molds, fixtures and contract machining knowhow, so the machining capability was already there. Fidia sent over a team of installation technicians and also shipped over a number of important components including the ram, the 5-axis milling head, and the controls. Working with the Paragon plant staff the machine build process worked smoothly and efficiently.As a result, Fidia has worked out a contract building program with Paragon Die & Engineering to build more of the Fidia machines that will be sold to Fidia customers here in North America.

Jorge Correa says, “Fidia has had sales offices in Troy, Michigan since 1984, but now with local manufacturing capability, we have a competitive advantage in terms of cost and delivery. Highly-accurate high-speed milling machines with their software and controls are a very sophisticated machine tool, which puts them at the higher end in terms of cost. Anything we can do to reduce that cost to our customer is advantageous for us both.”

Paragon president, David Muir, adds, “It’s difficult today to find experienced toolmakers and machinists to operate these sophisticated high-speed milling machines. The molds, fixtures and parts that we machine are large and we can’t afford to make machining mistakes. We discussed this situation with Fidia at the 2013 EMO show to see if there was some sort of software interface that we could provide on the new GFT/Mv3 machine controls that would guarantee “collision-free” machining.As it turned out, wesimply walked down to the Delcam booth with the Fidia people and we came up with an idea for a new software plug-in with Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software that linked Fidia’s ViMill software and their controls, so the operator can simulate the machining program before it ever starts…right on the machine control. The software simulates the machining operation based on a generated CAM program that detects and avoids any possible collisions or any unexpected movements between the part, tool head or the machine in real time.

The Fidia GTF/Mv3 gantry high speed milling machine is a relatively new machine design featuring a compact monolithic design with a self-supporting cast iron structure. No special foundation is required. The traverse design makes the GTF/Mv3 suitable for all versions of Fidia’s M5A milling head designs that enhance the high-speed cutting performance, easing the tool access to the narrowest areas of a part. The work envelope of the machine is: 2200 mm X-axis, 3500 mm Y-axis, 1400mm Z-axis.The working feed rate is 1181-2362 inches per minute, with machining accuracy of ± .0001 in.All coolant chillers, air-oil mist collectors, dust extraction system, chip conveyors and guarding are also provided as well as (2) 24 magazine tool changers. The control is the Fidia C40 vision system that is one of themost powerful numerical controls available for advanced high speed milling and multi-axis applications. It is equipped with a standard Quad core processor, a state-of-the-art graphic processor and a 64-bit Windows® 7 operating system for precise execution and virtual machining of the tool path. The panel also features a dual screen for the ViMill ‘Look Ahead’ virtual milling software and a (4) camera system to see inside the machining area when the doors are closed, Fidia, Delcam and Paragon Die & Engineering have demonstrated how success can be achieved by combining the synergies of three leading global companies towards a common purpose…collision-free high-speed CNC milling…and it’s all taking place today in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

About FidiaS.p.A.

FidiaS.p.A. was founded in 1974 in Turin, Italy. Fidia designs and builds numerical controls and high-speed milling machine systems for the production of complex-shaped parts for the automotive, aerospace and energy markets. Fidia is among the world leaders in the field of numerical controls and one of the few that can provide their own on-board electronics, controls and process software for their range of milling machines.  The Fidia Group employs proximately 320 people and has three industrial sites in Italy, one joint venture in China and subsidiary operations in Germany, Spain, Russia, Brazil, France, India, China and the United States. FidiaS.p.A. is listed on the Milan stock exchange.


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