It’s the cutting-edge in sheet metal folding machinery and is planned to revolutionise the folding industry as a whole. At Austech 2017, we sat with Peter Staebner, Director of Stamac Engineering, to discuss what may unravel to be the next generation of metal forming machinery.
Boasting unrivalled efficiency, Variobend’s Flagship folding machine was explained to us as being ‘born out of necessity’.
“At Variobend you have the traditional, little bit older generation, with extensive experience in the sheet metal industry, combined with a young team of intellectual engineers.
They basically said ‘ok’, what are the bottlenecks in manufacturing and sheet metal forming and how can we overcome those problems and design this machine around them?”
Designed to excel where traditional folding machines have once failed. The Flagship is currently the only machine on the market to utilise an ‘arrow shaped’ bending apron. Why? Finding narrow opening heights to be a common restraint facing most traditional bending machines, Variobend has designed its folder with this unique apron to enhance folding capabilities and also improve overall efficiency.
“The orientation of the [Flagships] bending apron is in the shape of an arrow. This gives 270 degrees of space for the material to move, without hitting the other apron. With this, our machine can make parts that others can’t…
Unlike other traditional machines which operate purely by hydraulics, this machine combines servo hydraulics with servo-driven back gauges. This makes it unique because it’s faster and has a better range of operation.”
What is more, this German-made folder is the only one of its kind to be integrated with a Crowning feature. An ability typically associated with press brakes, Variobend’s thick gauge machines are capable of consistently bending long products (anything from 3mm aluminium to 2mm mild steel) at perfect 90-degree angles. Promising no flexing or deformation in the metal.
Variobend have also prepared the machine to be better optimised for Industry 4.0, allowing for offline programming and mainframe networking. After 8 years of development, Mr Staebner outlines this as one of the machine’s best features.
“The machine can be fully offline programmed in the office, which is just done through a few mouse clicks. The guys operating the machine don’t ever have to worry about programming…
Essentially, this streamlines the supply of sheet metal to the machine and also streamlines the office work, because your overlapping all of those processes. Whilst the machine is continuously folding you can continue preparing the panels, there’s no waiting.”
With traditional folders requiring at least two operators, there’s no denying the potential this new technology brings through its lowered learning curve and streamlined the manufacturing process. According to Mr Staebner, it’s these factors and features that are continuing to turn heads in the Australian market.
“Here in Australia and New Zealand, the machine has been very successful. Since last January we’ve imported and installed 14 machines. At one point, we installed 3 machines in one month.”
Having that trend in mind, the team at Stamac have just launched their latest campaign which will allow any business to trial the Variobend Flagship Folder for 6 weeks.
“We’d like to get this product out there, let the customer try and let them make their own mind up, on whether this machine will benefit their factory and increase productivity.”
Stamac’s campaign will involve educating floor staff on how to best utilise the machine for their business and will even pay for delivery and installation fees. Undoubtedly a confident move in their machines prowess, their demo machine will be touring around Australia and New Zeland for 18-24 months.
Overall, Stamac’s stand showed to be a hit at Austech this year, engaging visitors with live folding exhibitions and open discussions about the in’s and out’s of the machine. With that, their efforts would prove to have paid off, having one of their thick gauge models sell straight off the stand shortly after our interview.