Matsuura Automation Increases Efficiencies & Spindle Uptime

The staff of KCS Advanced Machining Services. From L to R: Gordon Cole, Kyle Lindsay, Matt Sweeney, Jack Burnie, and Kyle Szczypienski. (Courtesy of Brent Donaldson, Modern Machine Shop).

St. Paul, MN (January 20, 2022)—According to Brent Donaldson, Senior Editor, Modern Machine Shop, in the fall of 2019, KCS Advanced Machining Services was hustling to stay on top of a heavy workflow comprised mainly of prototype work for the automotive and aerospace industries. Much of the work was highly complex, including NASA-commissioned parts for the Artemis space program as well as a multi-port, multi-faceted, 3D scalloped hydraulic manifold for hydrofoil sailboats. KCS’s existing five-axis machines, including two Hurco VMX models and a Bridgeport 5ax, were taxed to the limit, largely due to the outsized amount of time dedicated to setup. With one operator running two machines, the shop had reached a limit of 16 hours of machining time per day.

KCS says Matsuura Pallet Changers Changed Everything.

The first was a four-pallet automation system for a new Matsuura MX-520 five-axis machine, which KCS installed in September of 2019. This was followed recently by the installation of a Matsuura MAM 72-35V — a 32-pallet system with 320-tool capacity.

Donaldson explains that the flexibility to load different pallets with different parts and run them through the night has changed the nature of the business. Although the shop still focuses on prototypes, KCS now can shift into low-to-medium production quickly, even for complex parts. Szczypienski and Cole say this capability is particularly valuable when dealing with customers that represent startup businesses — businesses that offer opportunities for KCS to grow and mature alongside them.

“We are developing more into the low to medium volume work with a mix of sophisticated work that a lot of shops won’t touch,” Gordon Cole says. “What are the things that those customers value? Why do they come to us? We’re a humble little shop with a young staff, right? Why do they come to us? Well, we give them the quality and a high degree of sophistication that they can’t find elsewhere, and we’re planning our business strategically to track along with those of our larger customers. We’re not just buying equipment. It’s all part of a plan, and that’s what we are executing.”

This forward-thinking, Millennial-owned job shop is producing complex components many other shops cannot thanks to their Matsuura MAM72-35V. KCS Advanced Machining Services has increased efficiencies and spindle uptime, and Matsuura’s factory-built automation is a force multiplier for their business.

“Had I known that this was an option, or even in my wheelhouse-what the automation allows us to do-it’s a force multiplier. One machine is a force, now two machines is a force multiplier, but three machines- one of them having a pallet pool is an exponential force multiplier. That’s a machine that doesn’t require a full shift of an  individual and unattended nights and weekends machining and it’s all about the spindle uptime,” said , KCS founder and president, Kyle Szczypienski.

Located in Livonia, Michigan, KCS Advanced Machining Services (KCS) is a low-volume, high-mix machine shop specializing in the precision machining of built-to-spec products for a range of industries that include space hardware, manned spaceflight, motorsports, automotive and aftermarket, consumer products, and industrial robotics.  With a focus on utilizing the latest technology, hardware, and software, KCS specializes in sophisticated, complex, challenging, multi-axis machining projects.

“KCS has a long history of being a high-mix/low-volume, built to spec, 5-axis job shop. We identified some new opportunities in a high-volume production and faced with the everyday challenges of labor and skills gaps and cost of ownership, we decided that the MAM72-35V Vertical Machining Center is the most efficient and most sensible point of entry into on a high-volume market as well as very well suited for our everyday Niche high-mix low-volume 5-axis machining designed to run 24/7 for 20 years, the efficiencies can’t be beaten,” Szczypienski added.

A 32-pallet feed system and 320 tool capacity complement the automation and full feature set on the company’s Matsuura MAM72-35V. Each pallet can hold multiple parts and is fed automatically into the machining envelope allowing for unattended 24/7 operation.

“It’s amazing what these machines can do – they will recognize the work on the pallets, feed the pallet into the machine, identify the operations to perform on each part, select the tools as they are needed, then complete complex 5-axis machining operations perfectly, and every time,” Szczypienski continued.

“It’s not just about part accuracy but it’s also about the point of rotation accuracy. We have a lot of data here that the Matsuuras are able to hold that point of rotation, less than 5 microns, throughout the day time and time again and what that correlates to is part repeatability- that that first piece and the last piece coming off the machine the same or with all the capacity of the pallet pool here the ability to pull a job in that hasn’t been ran in months and get the same part off the machine the first time as it was the last time,” Szczypienski continued.

Szczypienski says the company has been building prototype spacesuits for NASA’s possible return to the moon. Szczypienski said they’ve worked on such prototypes for a few years, including components that would make up the suits. If everything goes according to plan, the parts manufactured could be a part of NASA’s Artemis program that will send humans back to the moon in 2024.

“We are making spacesuits. NASA has not built a surface suit since the days of Neil Armstrong and with the pending moon mission, they’re working on a new surface suit, which is modular for the size of astronauts and the roles of the mission,” Szczypienski said.

“I keep preaching to the guys here that our goal is to get parts on the moon we know we’re going to engrave our logo in a boot so that we have our name on the moon, and then maybe someday, Mars,” Szczypienski added.

“We decided to go with the Matsuura basically due to the factory-built automation. This machine model (MAM72-35V) in particular, they’ve been building since ‘91. We decided that we wanted to go the route of a manufacturer whose perfected the technology, who arguably invented the technology or possibly modernized the technology in the early nineties, whereas some of the other manufacturers are bolt on hardware or third-party hardware with multiple user interfaces and essentially different machine tools, whereas this machine includes the pallet changer, the tool magazine, and the machine itself as it is a purpose-built ecosystem. With the pallet pool being integrated into that machine controller, there’s only one controller that you have to deal with that provides lots of flexibility throughout the day we like to call it the one-button automation. We decided to go with Matsuura for their one-button automation,” Szczypienski explained.

Like all Matsuura machining centers, KCS’s MAM72-35V was built from the ground up and features Fanuc controls and Matsuura’s High Speed Precision package, as well as other custom features that combine to greatly improve efficiency while playing to the shop’s programming strengths.

“I always say that with the less expensive machines you never stop paying for the machine, they have a lower price tag, but I feel like the cost of ownership is higher due to maintenance, or usually longer setups or typically having to the cater to the machine throughout the process. Whereas, we decided to go with Matsuura because of the accuracy of the machines and the reliability and robustness of the machines would allow us to reduce our setup times,” Szczypienski said.

“We’re a small, growing shop in a very high-end niche where expertise, precision and overall ability have to meet or exceed the creativity and complexity of our customers, so we constantly work to improve our capabilities in order to deliver, Szczypienski concluded.

About KCS Advanced Machining Services

Located in Livonia, Michigan, KCS Advanced Machining Services is a low-volume, high-mix machine shop specializing in precision turning and multi-axis machining of build-to-spec products for a range of industries that include: space hardware, manned spaceflight, aerospace, defense, motorsports, automotive and aftermarket, consumer products, and industrial robotics.  With a focus on utilizing the latest technology, hardware, and software; KCS offers comprehensive services that meet or exceed customer requirements, end-user satisfaction, and interested party expectations.  For more information visit: www.kcsams.com

Matsuura USA Distributor, Yamazen, Inc., supports and sells Matsuura products in 32 states. Yamazen has strong business and cultural ties to the companies that build the equipment it distributes. Yamazen supports its products with extensive manufacturing and logistics expertise to maximize positive impact on the operations of its customers.

Yamazen, Inc. sold KCS Machining Services their very first Matsuura machine, an MX-520 PC4 5-Axis Vertical Machining Center. KCS has been pleased with the service and support they have received from Yamazen, Inc., although they rarely require service on their Matsuura machines.

Learn more about Matsuura’s MAM72 Technology at: https://www.matsuurausa.com/series/mam72-series/.

Matsuura Machinery USA, Inc., located in St. Paul, MN is the U.S. subsidiary of Matsuura Machinery Corporation in Japan. Since 1935, Matsuura has been the forerunner in designing innovative technology and manufacturing solutions to a variety of industries around the globe. Matsuura Machinery USA, Inc. delivers unmatched excellence in 5-axis, vertical, horizontal, linear motor, multi-tasking CNC machine tools and machines with a powder bed metal AM platform with machining capability. Matsuura Machinery USA, Inc. provides the service, applications and technical field support that have always been the Matsuura standard for business.

For more information about Matsuura, please contact: [email protected]