Notwithstanding all the clichés, those who really know the country are aware that Italy is much more than ‘just’ good food, good wine, fast cars, stylish fashion and la dolce vita. For those Italian engineers and specialists, who have a bent for technology, are bursting with creativity and dedication, especially when it comes to the construction of machines for working wood, metal and plastics. It is not for nothing that the Italian mechanical engineering industry regularly rank amongst the best in the world.
But the Italians don’t restrict themselves to their own version of high-tech production facilities – they are also glad to avail themselves of the high-performance potential of technological systems from neighbouring countries and also from further afield, as the young Weerg company shows. Weerg S.r.l. is located in Marghera, close to Venice. The brief history of the Weerg company started a good three years ago, when Matteo Rigamonti decided to change course radically. This meant first giving up his post of CEO and owner of a market leader in online printing services with around 500 employees, and successively selling his shares in that business.
Satisfied with the conclusion of that business chapter, he then found the idea of investing in a future-oriented, high-tech segment maturing in his thoughts. So, he began to search for commercial activities with growth potential. He and some of his closest ex-colleagues methodically worked their way through various sectors, such as, the hype areas of Additive Manufacturing/3D printing, before finally deciding to plunge into the world of CNC high-end machining. Asked what the name ‘Weerg’ might mean and how the company slogan ‘Il CNC é diventato facile’ is to be understood, Rigamonti explained, “We wanted a resounding name and simply thought up the word ‘Weerg’. The slogan summarises our mission to make mechanical engineering simpler, more valuable and more precise, and to achieve the ambitious target of becoming a sector leader. We intend to reach the point where we can fulfill even the most demanding wishes of our customers by using high-end technology with CNC machining.”
5-axis technology on the highest level
So, the decision was followed by a determined step into CNC high-end technology and the search for suitable equipment, i.e. machines, tools, workpiece clamping technology, programming systems and so on. In view of the way things started, it comes as no surprise that Rigamonti and Paolo Bertelli, Production Manager for CNC manufacturing, Weerg, trod some unconventional paths here, too, researching deeply into the area of machine evaluation with visits to trade fairs, manufacturers and reference projects.
Describing how they finally ended up with the Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AG in Gosheim, Rigamonti says, “Italy and other countries produce excellent results in this sector, but the fact remains that Germany leads the high-end segment. We wanted to establish ourselves at the highest level right from the start, and kept on hearing positive things about Hermle machining centres. The combination of talking to Hermle Italia and a number of Hermle customers with a tender that matched our idea of a viable cost-benefit ratio, led to a clear decision basis, and we ordered the first machine in mid 2015 – a C 42 U five-axis machining centre.”
The newcomers started off with the standard version, with an 18000 RPM tool spindle, an HSK-A63 tool holding fixture, an NC swivelling rotary table measuring 800 x 630 mm, a tool magazine with 43 pockets, a Heidenhain iTNC 530 HSCI control unit, a touch probe and tool breakage monitoring system and other common accessories. In view of the complexity of the machining tasks, they were thoroughly impressed with the results. The excellent and reliable manufacturing performance of the start-up soon got around, and the orders from various industrial sectors kept mounting up. So, in 2016, the Weerg specialists (now numbering six) ordered two further C 42 U five-axis machining centres. With an essentially identical configuration, each of the two new machines were supplied with a ZM additional tool magazine comprising 192 extra pockets. Now, these two machining centres have a total of 234 tools each for highly complex 5-axis/5 side complete/simultaneous machining.
Guaranteed success in 5-axis machining
Elaborating on the decision taken in favour of Hermle, Bertelli said, “We have found that the positive impressions we obtained during the intensive evaluation phase, and especially the commitments that Hermle made, have been completely confirmed. The Hermle machining centres are in a class of their own, both in respect of the 5-axis concept and with that, the whole machine concept, as well as regarding the constructional technology, the high degree of precision, the reliability and not least, the comprehensive service.”
He further shared, “For us, the C 42 U five-axis machining centres are what we need as far as the usable working range and the precision with which workpieces from just a few millimetres to quite large sizes can be fully machined. This applies especially to the extreme flexibility – single parts or small runs up to 250 pieces can be machined according to a priority schedule as required. Together with a workpiece magazine and deployment system that can be pushed in front of the machines on rails and positioned there, we are already operating the machining centres round the clock – manually operated in the main shift and with multi-machine operation during the extension shift. What we have to offer is attracting so much attention that Weerg recently decided to buy another C 42 U five-axis machining centre.”
Within the space of a little more than one year, four semi-automated Hermle machines are already operating in this start-up. In that space of time, it has already advanced to become an important supplier, especially for the Italian high-tech industries of mechanical engineering, electronics, automotive, aerospace, engineering and lighting, as well as for various consumer goods industries.