Fully automatic monitoring and filling coolant on CNC machines

volautomatisch monitoren, cnc-machines

The company Dierickx developed a fully automated control unit which monitors the quality of coolant on CNC processing centres and regulates the fluid level. This process innovation was developed based on their own need and because such a device simply did not yet exist on the market. The unit may be able to reduce the operational costs of every machining company, by making just a small investment and with a major return on that investment. Moreover, the device will also strongly restrict the health risks for operators. 

Family business Dierickx built up years of experience and strong expertise in high-end machining, and has always adopted an innovating role. Many of the completed customer assignments are designed and built by the company itself.

Coolant monitoring

When machining on CNC processing units the use of coolant is usually essential. This emulsion of water and oil is sprayed onto the workpiece during processing and takes care of cooling the tools and the workpiece, lubrication and chip removal. The decentralised monitoring of the quality and the pollution of this emulsion is a manual process, even in the most modern CNC machines. This leads to an annoying mess when adding water or oil and abnormal concentrations which may adversely affect the service life of the tool and the machine life. In the worst case health risks may also be caused, including skin fungi.

In-house development

In order to efficiently tackle these problems Dirk and Pieter Dierickx first checked on the market whether decentralised systems existed to automatically fill up coolant, while monitoring and adjusting the quality. This appeared not to be the case.

In 2014 an innovation project was set up with the help of Sirris and the Innovation Centre, and with the support of the former IWT (now Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship). To this end a machine operator, a 3D designer and a programmer were hired. This allowed for the mechanics and software of a new, own device to be developed fully in-house. Another partner took care of the electronics.

The result of the cooperation is WillFill, a unique device that does not only automate the former manual monitoring and filling, but also allowed to read and analyse all quality and consumption data. A patent application has been submitted.

 

Valorisation

At the end of 2016 Dierickx was given the opportunity to present the new device to the public in general at the annual fair of leading CNC machine producer Mazak in Leuven. WillFill definitely received quite some attention and several leading players showed an interest, including Mazak itself.

Dierickx is now continuing to build the future and will introduce the device on the Benelux market in the short term. After that it will head out to the rest of the world. For these ambitious plans the company is looking for larger operating facilities.

(Source : Innovatiecentrum, Elke De Rijck, Innovatiecentrum Vlaams-Brabant)