The success story of Bathon GmbH began over 40 years ago, with a toolmaking sideline. Today the family-run company is a versatile metalworking service provider. One key factor in its success is its flexible production, for which it uses a HEDELIUS machining centre.
Eight years ago, Stefan Bathon became managing director of Bathon GmbH in Alzenau, Bavaria. He led the company alongside his father for two years, before the older man retired. “My father started a toolmaking workshop in a converted barn in Mömbris over 40 years ago, as a sideline. As orders started flooding in, the production site kept having to be expanded, until we eventually moved to Röntgenstraße in Alzenau. This offered more space. The transport connections and infrastructure are also better”, says Stefan Bathon, giving us a brief insight into the company’s history.
The family business evolved from pure toolmaking to a multifaceted metal processing service provider. This is apparent as soon as you step into its machine halls. Laser cutting machines, press brakes, lathes, milling machines, welding robots and many other machines stand side by side, interspersed with lattice boxes and pallets holding unmachined parts and finished items. Bathon GmbH also has its own construction, quality assurance and logistics divisions.
Extreme flexibility in production
The fact that the company is able to bring so many different manufacturing technologies together under one roof is down to its customers. Stefan Bathon explains: “Customers want all of their services provided from a single source. This preference was only reinforced by the last financial crisis. At that time, forging a stronger connection between customers and suppliers became vital, and it remains important to this day.” In order to meet the requirements of regional, national and international customers from the pharmaceutical, food, solar power and construction industries, not to mention vehicle construction, special machine building and motorsports, manufacturing needs to be highly flexible. After all, each sector has specific requirements. Workpieces made of aluminium, steel, stainless steel, non-ferrous metals and plastics need to be produced in batches of 1 to 500 parts. Entire assemblies, systems and special machines are also manufactured here at the request of customers. Some jobs have to be completed within two to four weeks, at short notice, while others run on a regular basis and over a period of six months. With a view to ensuring even greater flexibility, in 2015 the company purchased a machining centre from HEDELIUS Maschinenfabrik GmbH.
Special table design
In the run-up to investing in a machine, the company examined the components and dimensions it was being required to make, in order to find exactly the right machine to meets its complex production needs. “We operate in the field of flexible processing and complete solutions, but making simple parts is something of a rarity for us,” continues Bathon. It was clear that the new milling machine would have to be able to rise to a wide range of demanding challenges.
The integrated zero-point clamping system proved to be another important factor in the choice of manufacturer. “We wanted a specific table design with integrated Schunk clamping chucks, as we already have them in our other machines. Not everyone would have done this for us, or wanted to do this for us,” he recalls. “HEDELIUS, however, were happy to integrate the clamping chucks into a Tiltenta 7-2600 pivoting spindle machining centre.” All of the existing clamping devices can thus be used in a similar way on all of the machines.
Zero-point clamping system + large tool magazine
The tooling machine manufacturer from Meppen also scored points for its tool magazine. Together with the standard magazine, Bathon ordered an additional standby magazine with 180 tools and a taper cleaning station, allowing 213 tools to be deployed quickly and easily. The interaction between the zero-point clamping system and the large tool magazine makes the T7-2600 extremely flexible and significantly reduces set-up times and therefore costs.
With travel distances of 2,600 x 750 x 695 (x/y/z), the T7-2600 is the largest milling machine in the machine pool at Bathon GmbH and can be used in a highly customised way, as intended. “The machine is simply extremely versatile. From small 5-axis parts to long bars or aluminium base plates, we process everything on the T7. Being able to call upon such a machine is absolutely vital,” says Stefan Bathon with satisfaction. High-precision components are not the norm at Bathon, but if precision is required, as in the case of components for the motorsports industry, the HEDELIUS milling machine can deliver. “The accuracy is superb – one-hundredth precision isn’t a problem,” reports Peter Wissel, operator of the pivoting spindle machining centre.
Setting framework conditions
The machine also has Heidenhain controls and a workspace partition. Other plus points of the HEDELIUS machine concept are its small footprint and access to the workspace, particularly the pneumatic connections for the zero-point clamping system. The other framework conditions were all in place, together with the technical requirements and advantages. “We prefer a smaller family business with direct contact, which we can assume will be around for a long time to come,” says Bathon. A fact-finding visit and a factory tour in Meppen made it clear that HEDELIUS was the right partner. Four years on from the purchase, nothing has changed in that regard.