Leading manufacturer of precision-machined components for the aerospace, automotive, and defense industries significantly reduces changeover time on complex, multi-step tasks.


The Business

ASTec Metalworks is a leading manufacturer of precision-machined components for the aerospace, automotive, and defense industries. They operate several types of machine tools on a daily basis, including press brakes, CNC lathes, and CNC mills. Due to ASTec’s sterling reputation of producing the highest-quality work to meet the demands of major international corporations, business is booming.


Tending a Mori DMU50 5-axis CNC Mill

The Challenge

To keep up with growth, ASTec needs to run their machines as much as possible, including overnight shifts. Finding highly-skilled labor for that third, nighttime, shift is always a challenge. Furthermore, ASTec’s machinists are too busy filling orders to spend the weeks typically required to set up an industrial robot. They needed a solution that could be deployed in days not weeks, and one that could operate side-by-side with human workers during the day.

The Solution

The Forge/Station robot control system, coupled with third-party industrial automation equipment from industry leaders like Universal Robots, Schunk, Robotiq, Piab, and others. Able to be set up in minutes and programmed in a few hours, the Forge/Station allows ASTec Metalworks to leverage the power of robotic automation without any of the headaches.


The Results

ASTec has initially programmed their Forge/Station to tend a DMU50 5-axis CNC mill from DMG Mori. The Forge/Station places several metal blocks into the DMU50’s rotary table and tightens each vice using an off-the-shelf electric driver. Like many machine shops, ASTec produces parts in runs of hundreds or a few thousand, so machine tools often need to be changed over to a new job. Tasks are saved in Forge/OS, so over time the robotic system only increases in value as it can be quickly repurposed to run previously saved jobs. Given the flexibility of the Forge/Station and the enormous growth at ASTec Metalworks, this is only the beginning of robotic automation for the company.


Timing is everything! The unbelievably short installation and setup time of the Forge/Station Robot enabled us to capture a full shift of additional production running lights out. This gain in production was EXACTLY what we needed to meet a doubling of our aircraft program demands!

Scott Saunders, President
ASTec Metalworks.