Photo: Zoller

Where machining centers and tools come together for efficiency and security

»Data communication between individual elements of production is the basis for Industry 4.0.« Upon hearing this statement, most people will nod and think: Nothing new there! But that's not everything: With »cora«, ZOLLER, a leading supplier of setting and measuring devices and software solutions, is presenting a system for automated tool handling and tool changes in cooperation with the CHIRON Group. It communicates directly with machining centers like the CHIRON FZ 16 S five axis, enables the secure transfer of data and guarantees clear increases in productivity – around the machine and in the machining process.

The CHIRON Group first presented the FZ 16 S five axis machining center at AMB in Stuttgart, Germany in September 2018. An important factor for high productivity is the fast, automated change of the up to 162 tools in a pick-up process. But what about the path of the tools in and out of the machine? How can we ensure that the right tool is equipped? How can tools be changed with the maximum level of security and efficiency?

These are questions which ZOLLER and the CHIRON Group have investigated and for which they have found convincing answers as part of a cooperation project true to the motto »better together«. The approach: Integrating the CHIRON FZ 16 S five axis machining center into the ZOLLER Smart Factory in Pleidelsheim, Germany to jointly test innovative procedures for moving tools into the machine and develop these for series production.

Traditional and critical: Manual data entry
This is the traditional way of doing things: The operator prints a label at the setting device, walks to the machine with the tool and enters the data. However, statistics indicate that every 20th keystroke is a typing error, with a 4 quickly becoming a 1, or a 5 turning into an 8. It sounds harmless, but during production this can lead to machining problems and even a machine crash. 

»In the Smart Factory, we combine the know-how of machine manufacturers like the CHIRON Group with our expertise. This enables us to expand on issues like connectivity, digitization and automation, develop these further in real circumstances and also experience them live.«
Bernd Schwennig
Head of Sales Automation at ZOLLER

Smart solution, part 1: Secure data transfer to replace paper chaos
A core competence of ZOLLER is setting and measuring prepared tool assemblies. The first step of the smart solution is connecting setting and measuring devices to machining centers. The data can be transferred via RFID tags, which is very secure but also quite costly. Just as secure but easy and affordable to implement for small companies is the new data transfer via DataMatrix code.

The process is incredibly simple: The code on the tool holder is read with a hand scanner at the setting device, the tool is measured and the actual data is stored in the central tool database. There is another code reader on the machining center which is used to clearly identify the tool. The machine control system then obtains the measuring data including all other required tool information directly from the tool database and inputs these into the machine – clearly, automatically and free from errors.

Secure data transfer is just one of the benefits: The »flash« production analysis software offered by the specialists from Pleidelsheim makes it possible to check the tool service life in real time based on a traffic light concept. If the tools reach the warning limit, a message is generated in the tool setting space, the new tool can be prepared and equipped in good time.

Smart solution, part 2: Communication, protection and dynamic action via ProtectLine
Another result of the cooperation between ZOLLER and the CHIRON Group is the integration of the full tool modeling data in ProtectLine. The digital machine twin is supplemented with the complete tool data – including tool geometry and tool holder geometry – fully automatically. This creates a highly efficient process for generating digital twins, which forms the basis in the system for preventative collision protection for the machine via ProtectLine. »The fully automatic integration of tools therefore creates significant added value,« explains Pascal Schröder, Development Coordination Digitalization at the CHIRON Group.

A 3D scan is generated for the digital tool twin on the Zoller pre-setting device and automatically provided to the CHIRON Group machining centers in the right data format. 

»The fully automatic integration of tools in ProtectLine creates significant added value. On the one hand, it significantly increases user convenience. On the other hand, a main source of errors – wrong or faulty tool data in the digital model – is excluded.«
Pascal Schröder
Development Coordination Digitalization at the CHIRON Group

Smart solution, part 3: Automated tool handling with »cora«
When working with difficult-to-machine materials, such as Inconel or titanium, the tools need to be changed in a quick rhythm. Frequently changing order sequences also require correspondingly frequent set-up processes. This takes up work and machining time – just a few minutes each, but these add up over time and across all machinery. With »cora«, the cooperative robot assistant from ZOLLER, in combination with the CHIRON Group machining centers, potential for rationalization can be exploited and clear gains in efficiency can be achieved.  


  • Save time thanks to automated tool handling on the setting device

  • Optimized production thanks to automated tool logistics

  • Continuous data transfer for maximum security

  • Data and stock transparency

  • Avoid tool-related spindle downtime

  • Highly productive even with small tool magazines

Excellent solution, pioneering, super digital …
… great tool, many application options: This is just a small selection from the all-positive feedback received for the webinar led by Bernd Schwennig on behalf of the CHIRON Group Sales department.

Would you experience the solution for yourself? Make a personal appointment for an online presentation or stop by for a visit at the Smart Factory in Pleidelsheim. To do so, please contact your responsible sales employee from the CHIRON Group or contact ZOLLER.

As an alternative, you can also have a first look at the OPEN HOUSE ONLINE during the innovation talk of ZOLLER on the topic »Increase efficiency, ensure quality - integrated tool management and innovative data transmission in practice«.

»At ZOLLER, we generally look at tools with a systematic approach that includes identification, pre-setting, measurements, inspection, automation, storage systems, software, data transfer and digital twin solutions. All this is perfectly implemented in the cooperation project with the CHIRON Group.«
Bernd Schwennig
Head of Sales Automation at ZOLLER

Expect great measures
That is the motto of E. Zoller GmbH & Co. KG, which offers innovative setting and measuring devices, software for measurements, inspection and management of machining tools and automation solutions.

Founded in 1945 by Alfred Zoller, the company remains an independent family business to this day and focuses on solutions for greater profitability in machining.

There are currently around 42,000 setting devices and software solutions deployed worldwide, supported by service and sales branches in the most important markets and partners in 59 countries. Development and assembly are completely »Made in Germany« and based at the headquarters in Pleidelsheim near Stuttgart. Here, ZOLLER opened a new building right in time for its 75th anniversary in 2020, and now operates on an area of 37,000 m2. The building is equipped with geothermal energy, solar power, water power and a green roof and therefore designed for sustainability. It offers ideal conditions for around 400 employees and for training courses held at the ZOLLER Academy. At the heart lies the innovative technology and customer center, the Smart Factory.

Photo: Werbefoto Robold

Running like a well-oiled machine? It'll run even better with intelligent lubrication!

The machining quality of a workpiece depends on the machine, the tools, and the cooling lubricant, although less attention is usually paid to the latter. The concentration might be too high, too low, or not maintained; the temperature might fluctuate – all of which can clearly be seen in the machining results. To keep the emulsion just right and supply it continuously to machines, the CHIRON Group is collaborating with the MOTOREX AG. The system created by the Swiss lubricant specialist ensures continuous monitoring, dispensing, and maintenance. Moreover, it can be fully incorporated into ConditionLine, the automatic condition monitoring tool of the CHIRON Group's SmartLine portfolio.

Millions of machining centers are used worldwide, and they operate with cooling lubricants as a rule. In most cases, that means the operators mix water and an additive to form an emulsion, top up the tank, and assume everything's fine.

»Unfortunately that's not actually the case«, according to Pascal Schröder, Development Coordination Digitalization at the CHIRON Group. »Let's say the tank holds 900 liters, and there was 300 liters left in it. It wouldn't be wise to then add 600 liters of fresh, cold emulsion to it. The temperature of the emulsion as a whole would change suddenly, which – thanks to the laws of physics – would mean each machining center would warp slightly, negatively affecting the precision and machining quality.«

Another negative aspect is that machining processes generate heat, causing the water in the emulsion to evaporate faster. The longer the cooling lubricant is used, the higher its concentration, and the less stable the process. If the cooling lubricant is not maintained properly, it can also result in deposits accumulating in the process, causing tools to break and stopping surfaces from fitting. Which is all the more problematic if a tank supplies many different machines rather than just one. According to Adrian Schoch, Head of Application at MOTOREX, »even high-quality additives won't help in these cases. That's because they, like the machining centers, can only give their best performance when they are used correctly.«

»To achieve optimum machining results, the conditions need to be perfect. Besides the machine itself, the cooling lubricant is an important way of achieving this.«
Pascal Schröder
Development Coordination Digitalization at the CHIRON Group

The goal: »To digitalize« fluid
For Pascal Schröder, the answer is clear: »The automatic supply, monitoring, and maintenance of cooling lubricant is a key factor for machining centers to deliver perfect results. Particularly bearing in mind the opportunities from networked production and Industry 4.0, it makes little sense to constantly monitor the machine condition but to completely ignore the surrounding processes.«

That's why the CHIRON Group has, for many years, supported developments by MOTOREX to achieve automatic fluid management and the optimum conditions for machining different materials.

»In the CHIRON Group, we have a partner who, like us, strives for perfection and focuses not only on the machining centers themselves, but also on production factors in the surrounding environment.«
Adrian Schoch
Head of Application at MOTOREX

Measuring, monitoring, dispensing, checking – these are the four factors to achieve the best possible condition at all times. This is reflected in the workpiece quality, but also generates added value:

Up to 25 percent less consumption: When the tank is always full, with a consistently optimum value and stable temperature, less strain is placed on the cooling lubricant and it can be used for longer.

Lower machine usage costs: Rotating components – spindles, pumps, vane pumps – can be used for longer and better protected from wear if the emulsion has the right concentration and optimum pH.

Better machine availability: The tanks are filled automatically with no machine downtime.

Reduced workload: Operators no longer have to deal with the machining fluid and can be confident that everything is set correctly at all times.

Greater sustainability: The longer the fluid is used, the less waste there is, which is better for the environment. There is no need to »tip up« the tank and replace the entire tank contents.

Improved health and safety: Chemical additives are no longer required to prevent fungi and bacteria. This, and a constant pH value, prevents skin allergies and allergic reactions.

Fast documentation in accordance with TRGS 611 (Technical Rules for Hazardous Substances):Weekly measurement values in the medical engineering division can now be provided at the touch of a button for all machines, saving a significant amount of time.

Scalable for every requirement
The smartphone-based Easy Monitoring App from MOTOREX offers a convenient introduction to automatic cooling lubricant maintenance. The app provides a digital illustration of the fluids, records all relevant parameters in seconds, and stores the data for analysis and documentation purposes. Discrepancies can be identified at an early stage and eliminated quickly.

Machining centers »understand« fluid
Incorporating fluid management into the machine controls of the CHIRON Group machining centers offers a number of advantages when combined with the Easy Monitoring App: All relevant values such as the concentration, pH value, conductivity, temperature, and fill level can be viewed directly. Plus, the data can be transmitted to the CHIRON Group and to MOTOREX, with the customer's consent of course. This allows the professionals to provide direct support. The system can intelligently top up and automatically maintain the fluid. When the first shift starts on Monday, the emulsion is just right and the tank is topped up to perfection.

 Relevant cooling lubricant factors displayed on the ConditionLine dashboard.
Relevant cooling lubricant factors displayed on the ConditionLine dashboard.

Would you like to know more about Swisscare Smart Solutions for CHIRON Group machining centers?
Get in touch with us! Or pay a visit to »micro on tour« in Switzerland in late summer 2021. Nine partners will be on board the roadshow truck, providing information on innovative solutions and services along the entire precision manufacturing process chain.

MOTOREX AG, based in Langenthal, Switzerland, is a major global manufacturer of lubricants for a wide variety of applications in industry, agriculture and forestry, transport, construction machinery, Alpine infrastructure, the marine industry, the car sector, the motorbike and bicycle industry, and the classic vehicle segment.

It produces 38,000 Metric tonnes of lubricant per year, while the 2,500 plus formulations are constantly under further development in collaboration with OEMs, industry partners, motorsport teams, and universities, with a growing focus on optimizing sustainability. One of the company's core competencies is industrial lubricant technology – from water-miscible cooling lubricants, to different oils, to spindle products. MOTOREX has over 350 employees and operates in 85 countries through 5 sales branches and 130 distribution partners.

Would you like to stay up to date on all the latest news from MOTOREX?
If so, follow MOTOREX on LinkedIn!

Added value through innovation – layer for layer.

Stellba AG’s motto encompasses exactly the things that also make the Additive Manufacturing of the CHIRON Group special. They share their three core strengths: Innovation, customer benefits and partnership. The Swiss specialists in industrial coatings and machining solutions and Axel Boi’s department are a match made in heaven. That much is clear from the pilot project AM Cube, the first industrial application for the CHIRON Group 3D metal printer.

read time: 12 min read this article on one page

If you get to witness Fouad Cheaitani, Head of Sales, Customer Support and Business Development at Stellba, and Axel Boi in a discussion about digital expertise, you feel a bit like a spectator at a high-level table tennis match. The balls fly at lightning speed, the »players« are precise and each return brings a new twist. They’re in their element – a well-oiled team. They’re clearly proud of what has developed from what was initially a simple LinkedIn connection. It’s grown into a development partnership and the AM Cube, which, since its premier at the OPEN HOUSE ONLINE in May 2020, has expanded both its options and applications. One thing led to another...

Expanding and deepening expertise
As a specialist for tailored customer solutions for coatings and machining, Stellba has in-depth expertise in the areas of thermal spraying, welding and Plasma-Transferred-Arc. In 2014, they had already begun using laser technologies and selling the first laser-welding systems for »XXL-workpieces and components,« says Fouad Cheaitani. The goal of the investment was to optimize the technology for use at Stellba and to transfer the machining of particular workpieces to the factory. The particular focus was on the processes where conventional methods delivered good results, but they weren’t quite »Swiss Quality«.

Building expertise and finding new partners
The company built up its expertise and, in May 2019, took on distinguished expert Fouad Cheaitani. He had extensive experience with laser technologies, which he’d been building on since 2003, precisely tracking the development of laser deposition welding, especially in Additive Manufacturing, across all media. Fouad Cheaitani gives lectures on the subject and is well-connected with all specialists and research institutions in this area.

When Stellba was looking for a partner to expand their expertise beyond coating to the creating of workpieces, to answer requests to manufacture small batches, Fouad Cheaitani was in contact with a whole host of companies. But none of these really fulfilled his requirements for a partnership that really benefited both parties. »We didn’t want a finished system that we would need to restructure to suit our needs. We’re also a relatively small company, with only 20 employees, and we worried that we wouldn’t be heard on stage with the large OEMs.«

But, thankfully for both sides, Fouad Cheaitani became aware of CHIRON Group during his research, thanks to how active it was in the area of Additive Manufacturing. He liked a LinkedIn post by Dr. Nasim Bosh and immediately made contact. They got to know each other online, then met in person at the ETH Zurich and found they clicked instantly. The first meeting with Axel Boi took place in fall 2019, and the contracts had been signed before Christmas even arrived.

Flexibility. With Additive Manufacturing as an alternative.
Axel Boi was immediately prepared to prove that they could achieve what Fouad Cheaitani describes as »fantasy in the plant«. He wanted to work together with Stellba to put the existing qualities of the AM Cube to the test. They wanted many options which fell under the heading of »maximum flexibility«. Stellba is a service provider, and the requests can differ greatly from day to day. For example, machining with four or five axes, wire or powder, material application with lance or nozzle, preheating parts to 300 degrees, welding under argon cover gas atmosphere in the entire working area to avoid oxidation and formation of pores – every project has its own, new challenges. Challenges, which the AM Cube would need to conquer fantastically.

»We didn’t want a pre-made system. We wanted our fantasy in the factory, with a variety of options which we, as contract manufacturers, could adjust for the most different tasks.«
Fouad Cheaitani
Head of Sales, Customer Support and Business Development at Stellba

The Highlights:

  • Coating, 3D printing or repair

  • Automatic changing of application heads

  • Weld filler metals as wire or power

  • Working on three, four or five axes

  • Programming in DIN ISO or CAM

  • Easy to use with the SmartLine Module TouchLine

Always at top speed
To transfer these varied requirements into practical solutions, it isn’t just Fouad Cheaitani and Axel Boi who are constantly in discussion. In Dottikon and Tuttlingen, teams from all departments work closely and constructively together. Every two weeks there is a team meeting, where all the application engineers, material specialists and software engineers get together and to discuss issues and progress. Every department contributes different expertise and view points, which are discussed, and then discarded or implemented as quickly as possible.

The worry that the CHIRON Group was too large to move at this pace quickly dissolved. The Additive Manufacturing division has, according to Axel Boi, »A start-up character – very dynamic and flexible. On the other hand, we have access to CHIRON Group reserve resources and support, and more experts that we can call upon if necessary.«

Stellba’s focus is new materials and possibilities
Fouad Cheaitani is on the »side of material«. One of the reasons why Stellba decided to collaborate with Axel Boi’s team was, »many companies got involved on the software side or the technology side – but for the perfect results and more applications, the material had to be perfect. As a distinguished materials expert, Dr. Nasim Bosh is the ideal sparring partner for us.« Eventually, in the future, Stellba doesn’t just want to build components with the existing material range of wire or powder, it also wants to develop new specially adjusted materials and coating materials for Additive Manufacturing. They should help achieve the required mechanical values and realize new material properties – for example with new additives or new compositions.

Will this work better with wire or powder? On the one hand, this is a matter of experience, on the other, a case of experimenting. Of course it will take time, but in comparison to developing and gaining approval for completely new materials, the desired results are found much more quickly. Not least thanks to the idea-ping-pong going on between them and Axel Boi’s team, where ideas and approaches are communicated openly, and jointly tested and fleshed-out for feasibility.

Easy to use: a real USP
And now, back to reality, after a brief foray into the future of Additive Manufacturing. The important thing is the safe mastery of these highly complex technologies to minimize operating errors. According to Fouad Cheaitani, one of the central benefits of the AM Cube is »automatic changing of the application heads. Whether wire or powder, 3D printing or coating, internal or external... Things that take hours for other manufacturers take only minutes here, and without the need for manual interference. It’s unrivaled.« Equally unrivaled – and incidentally a small but positive surprise for Axel Boi too – is that the AM Cube takes just five days to install and set up.

 One of the three AM Cube application heads for applying powder using a lance for the interior coating of components. The three different application heads allow the application material – wire or powder – to be changed in various phases of production.
One of the three AM Cube application heads for applying powder using a lance for the interior coating of components. The three different application heads allow the application material – wire or powder – to be changed in various phases of production.
»The automatic changing of the application heads is a key advantage of the AM Cube, and a true USP. It’s unrivaled.«
Fouad Cheaitani
Head of Sales, Customer Support and Business Development at Stellba

Variety as a goal – check.
Coating, 3D printing or repair – It’s all possible with the AM Cube. And the various applications at Stellba prove that anything is possible. Since it was commissioned, various research projects have been run on the 3D metal printer in collaboration with prestigious Swiss universities and, since December, it has taken on even more different orders. It has been welding half-shells for brakes in locomotives, coating the inside of components with aluminum-bronze and repairing turbine blades.

Currently, they are building an impeller for a turbine fully additively. Stellba also carries out repairs on various components using the AM Cube and is working hard on qualifying new materials such as tungsten carbide or materials based on nickel.

 Welding test with aluminum-bronze to calculate the process parameters – magnetic brakes for locomotives
Welding test with aluminum-bronze to calculate the process parameters – magnetic brakes for locomotives
 Cable guide with anti-wear coating made from Stellite® 6
Cable guide with anti-wear coating made from Stellite® 6
 Kneading cogs coated in tungsten carbide
Kneading cogs coated in tungsten carbide

The development partnership is a resounding success, not just in finding more options for all AM Cube users, says Fouad Cheaitani, »to our delight, and that of our owner and CEO Philipp Jutzi, the system is already making us money.«

The trial phase is now complete and the AM Cube has already mastered a huge variety of industrial tasks at Stellba, with flying colors.

This begs the question, will Additive Manufacturing replace existing technologies? Fouad Cheaitani and Axel Boi are united in thinking that it won’t. But the engineers have more possibilities when developing components, both regarding the lower weight of the part and saving energy, and the design.

Click here to find out more about the highlights of the AM Cube, applications and options.

Interested in more information or a personal discussion about the AM Cube and its industrial uses at Stellba? 

Axel Boi welcomes your request and would be happy to put you in contact with Fouad Cheaitani.

Axel Boi
Head of Additive Manufacturing
Tel. +49 7461 940-3871

[email protected]

Stellba AG
Stellba AG was founded in 1957 and has its headquarters in Dottikon, Switzerland, with a large-scale production center in Baden. Today, it is one of the most in-demand global specialists on tailored customer coating and machining solutions which protect products and components from erosion, abrasion, corrosion and oxidation, thermal loads or combinations of various types of wear. The applications for the high-tech finishings include hydro-power plants, thermal power plants, pumps and compressors, components in high-temperature zones and thermal barrier coatings (TBC). Stellba is a contract manufacturer and a partner in the energy supply, oil and gas, maritime, and printing industries, as well as the chemical-pharmaceutical industry. It develops innovative processes in its in-house material laboratory and is a leader in future-focused technologies like laser deposition welding and additive metal machining.

Photo: nortonrsx /

Italian turnkey solution for Japanese spray guns

Turnkey expertise, complete machining from blanks to finished parts, and maximum, reproducible precision: These were the key criteria in Anest Iwata's decision to choose CHIRON Italia and an automation solution with an FZ 15 S baseline.

An FZ 15 S baseline machining center is compact, fast, and versatile. The pre-configured machine is the ideal choice for producing gleaming surfaces and the finest slots, fits, and geometries. Thanks to this profile, the pre-configured 5-axis machining center perfectly matched the complex requirements specified by Massimo Simeone, Project Manager at the Anest Iwata Strategic Center: »We wanted a machining solution that we could use to fully and highly precisely manufacture the components for a new spray gun. Quality is the deciding factor in this high-end segment. The CHIRON Group had the experience we were looking for and the perfect machines.« In addition, Anest Iwata wanted to change from 4-axis to 5-axis machining so that it would be able to manufacture other parts with complex geometries highly productively after this project.

The special spray gun made from die-cast aluminum is designed for applying paint in car body construction at OEMs and smaller companies, which, among other things, paint Formula 1 racing cars layer by layer to achieve a high-gloss finish. It's the most complex product to date for the Italian site, and the first collaboration with CHIRON Italia.

Teamwork for an automated process
The solution presented by the team, headed by Regional Sales Manager Davide Isepatto and Project Manager Mario Farella, is an Italian co-production consisting of a CHIRON FZ 15 S baseline, clamping technology from LORENZI S.r.l. from Bergamo, and automation from Automazioni Industriali Brescia, under the turnkey responsibility of CHIRON Italia.

Not only do the participating companies work together perfectly as a team – the three elements do too: The robot cell takes the blanks from the pallets and loads the parts into the machine. The FZ 15 S baseline carries out all of the machining operations: Milling, highly complex drilling, threading, and smoothing. Once the machining is finished, the robot passes the parts to the blow-out station and then places them into trays. The automation enables continuous machining around the clock; all the operators have to do is place the blanks on the pallet.

 Davide Iseppato, Regional Sales Manager for Italy, and Massimo Simeone, Project Manager at Anest Iwata
Davide Iseppato, Regional Sales Manager for Italy, and Massimo Simeone, Project Manager at Anest Iwata

The order was placed in October 2019, and the installation was completed in June 2020. To keep availability consistently high, the solution was supplemented by the RemoteLine digital system for remote diagnosis and maintenance.

»We are very satisfied – both with the interaction between the machine, clamping devices, and automation, and with the excellent teamwork from CHIRON Italia. Everyone did their best to produce the perfect solution for this complex machining job.«
Massimo Simone
Project Manager at the Anest Iwata Strategic Center

ANEST IWATA Corporation

Founded in 1926, Anest Iwata combines the Japanese craftsmanship tradition with the latest spray painting technology. The product range includes different lines involving paint guns, pumps, and painting accessories, suitable for a very diverse range of applications.

One of the most complex applications is vehicle painting, plus the spray guns are also used for wood and industrial painting. The listed group has its head office in Yokohama. Globally, Anest Iwata employs roughly 1,600 people, 50 of whom work in sales and production in the Italian Strategic Center S.r.l. in Cardano al Campo, near Milan.

 Head office of Anest Iwata in Yokohama, Japan.
Head office of Anest Iwata in Yokohama, Japan.

Anest Iwata Corporate Movie