Finishing Touch

Tornos is not an everyday name in the surface finishing industry, but the company is well known as a machine tool builder, with some of the best machines in the world coming out of its European headquarters.


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Tornos is not an everyday name in the surface finishing industry, but the company is well known as a machine tool builder, with some of the best machines in the world coming out of its European headquarters.

So imagine everyone’s surprise at the EMO2011 machine tool show last year when Tornos rolled out its turnkey surface finishing machine, Cyklos, a self-contained apparatus that enables machining shops to integrate wet electro chemical or chemical surface processing into their manufacturing line.

This includes performing surface treatment (anodizing, plating, phosphating or deburring), rinsing and drying in a compact and highly efficient piece of equipment. In essence, the parts can come straight from machining into the finishing station and then out for packaging without human intervention.

This spring, the Cyklos SA division of Tornos rolled out the updated version, the Cyklos A300, a machine dedicated to large volume aluminum anodizing finishing that is sleeker and more refined that the 2011 version, yet even more simplistic. The company says it can process as many as 10 million parts per year, and yet, compared with standard lines, has 10 times smaller baths, uses 10 times less floor space, has 3 times better treatment uniformity control, uses only one operator, and has no extra waste treatment installation.

Machine Tool Design

Emmanuel Turlot, director of Cyklos SA, a Tornos Group company based in Yverdon, Switzerland, says the Cyklos design came from the machine tool shops and manufacturers the company previously was serving. They are searching for uninterrupted workflow through the manufacturing process. 

“Often, the global efficiency of manufacturing is drawn downward by interrupted flows in the whole process,” Mr. Turlot says. “With Cyklos, we’ve reduced drastically these non-productive—and often costly—times to offer surface processing in a continuous manufacturing flow.”

Cyklos SA says it is solving this manufacturing predicament by making a piece of surface processing equipment and developing a process that is compact, has zero reject, offers high performance with low cost of ownership. It claims zero reject because it says all liquid and vapors are trapped and filtered inside the Cyklos equipment so that it requires no on-site wastewater treatment installation and no specific construction.

Verticalize Surface Treatment

Mr. Turlot says Cyklos will enable production workshops to verticalize surface treatment operations, which he says up until now required special premises and extensive technical chemical knowledge. But getting into an already heavily regulated industry?

“Tornos has been continuously scanning emerging technologies and evaluating the potential impact on the manufacturing of finished parts,” he says. “The Cyklos technology was one of them and has been followed by us for several years.”

The Cyklos concept is based on a patented technology owned by Tornos in which parts are transported from bath to bath automatically by a simple combination of conveyor and multiple rotating drums which transports small carriers on which the parts are attached.

According to the company, about a hundred parts can be loaded on each carrier, which can enter the machine every 2 minutes. It says the machine throughput can continuously process parts at a rate of one part per second.

“As each carrier undergoes the exact same processing sequence as the next or the previous carrier, and since the process—chemicals, temperature, voltage—is entirely computer controlled, the stability of the processing performances is ensured,” Mr. Turlot says.

Mr. Turlot says most manufacturers do not install their own plating or anodizing line for several reasons: the size of the bath tanks needed, the overall large footprints, hazardous chemical containment, wastewater treatment and the skills required to run an efficient plating line.

10 × 20 Size

Cyklos is designed to solve those issues, especially considering the machine is roughly 10 ft wide by 20 ft in length. Since the chemicals and wastewater are all confined inside the machine, Tornos says a manufacturer would need only electricity, compressed air and a water source to install Cyklos and have it running.

As an example, Cyklos SA cites a solution for anodizing piston brakes that can process more than 5 million parts within a year at a total cost of ownership of less than 7 cents per part. It says the machine could handle as much as 10 million parts annually.

To help shops less familiar with parts finishing, the company says the Cyklos machine has a uniform and repeatable process unlike any other on the market. Mr. Turlot says, in classical plating processes, the uniformity of the coating is, at best, ± 5 microns, and the treatment is
often discontinuous on some internal areas as a result of trapped air bubbles or gas released during treatment. The process of the Cyklos machine makes it is possible to maintain a treatment uniformity of ± 2 microns with no discontinuity of treatment, both outside and inside the part.

Soft, Hard Anodizing

For soft and hard anodizing, the machine has a rotary process in a stirred tank, a low temperature process down to 41°F and multiple voltage processes. For the sealing process, it uses hot water at 203°F and applies a 2-micron aluminum oxide layer, up to 60 microns. Maximum part size is 200 mm.

“I have been very positively surprised by how quickly and with no exception these customers decided to evaluate our new technology,” Mr. Turlot says. “I have in the past experienced more resistance from production engineers who are under strong time pressure and, for good reasons, traditionally risk adverse.”

According to Mr. Turlot, the first generation of Cyklos is dedicated to large-volume manufacturing—from 5 to 10 million parts per year—and the target markets are automotive and aeronautics. Cyklos SA is telling customers that their return on investment is less than 2 years.

“Initial orders have already been delivered and customer feedback is very positive,” says Emmanuel Sagnes, product manager at Cyklos. “The product is very easy to master.”