Newlast: innovation in automated last technologyNewlast focuses on lasts for automation and launches a new machine that can make the production of technical lasts faster and more precise
The first SDF machine (Newlast milling machine for lasts), launched in 2006, introduced a new and revolutionary concept of turning, eliminating a critical manual operation: the removal of the supports and the finishing of the toe and heel. To obtain this result, it was first of all necessary to change the way in which the last block was clamped by the machinery: no longer on the toe and heel – along the rotation axis of the turning lathe machine – but on the top surface i.e. on the part that footwear machines already used to block the last during the lasting phase.
The introduction of the SDF was a real revolution.
The greater precision that could be obtained in the milling of the last was fundamental for both the standard and the technical lasts. As result, over the years, even last factories that mainly work with fashion companies and therefore with cemented construction have understood the advantages of this technology and have invested in the range of SDF machines.
Newlast then asked itself in which areas of the engineering and production process of the lasts could innovations still be introduced.
“It is difficult to imagine what more can be done in the turning of traditional lasts,” says Andrea Galbiati, sales manager of Newlast, “except to improve productivity, as we did in 2014 by introducing the HS series, which expanded the range of machines and increased their productivity by about 35%. We therefore turned our attention to the world of technical lasts, i.e. those used by injection machines, and in the automated manufacturing lines.”
One of the critical aspects of the lasts used in automation is the precision in the positioning of the metal parts which are used by machines and robots to clamp the last during the handling and machining operations. These components are connected to the top surface and on the sides of the last and require further milling and drilling, which is currently carried out by hand by an operator using separate and laborious systems.
“In order to make a qualitative leap,” continues Galbiati, “it is essential to eliminate this human factor in the last factory. These processes are very delicate because they are subject to very low tolerances. They must be engineered starting from the CAD stage and must be automatically transmitted to numerical control machines that ensure consistent quality along the entire production process.”
To achieve this, Newlast has launched the following systems:
• the S.L.I.M. 4.0 (Shoe Last lntegrated Manufacturing) software system which integrates all the information needed for producing the technical last into a single engineering environment
• The SDMC4 tool machine, which receives instructions from the engineering software, and is able to perform all those operations that until now were carried out by hand or using non-integrated systems that did not speak to each other.
It is now possible to store in the .FRV file of the last all the instructions needed to perform traditional turning processes as well as additional operations required to produce lasts for automation: drilling cycles, milling of the side and top surface, free holes, spines, bushes, microchip holes, joint holes. “Potentially every machine, from the roughing machine to the SDMC4 tool machine up to the SDF, knows exactly what it has to do from the single file created by the engineering software”.
Advantages of this new technology:
• Reduction in machining times: the SDMC4 tool machine automatically and sequentially performs a series of operations that were previously done by hand by last operators
• Greater precision: the exact positions where the last must be milled or drilled are determined in the engineering office, the tool machine receives instructions and works with a precision and constancy that is impossible to achieve by hand
• Advanced machining: the SDMC4 machine is able to excavate a uniform depth at the closure of the mould ring to insert a protective rubber gasket.
What further innovations can we expect in the future of last factories?
The next step - concludes Galbiati - could be a new hinge concept. But this will require us to completely rethink the way the hinge is made.
A complete and integrated system consisting of centralised software for defining the operations required for high-precision lasts, destined for direct injection lasts and automated shoe production.
The system includes management software and a new dedicated machine.
The creation of cycles is achieved through a user-friendly interface that, in a 3D environment, includes the possibility of adding, setting and applying, milling and drilling operations in a completely flexible way.
FMT - Formificio Milanese Team is already in the future
“I don’t see a future without automation,” this is how we could explain the decision of Gianmarco Gemme to invest in the new S.L.I.M. 4.0 system by Newlast.
“Automation will be the key word of the future for the footwear industry. It is demonstrated, among other things, by all the productions that are returning to the countries or close to the countries of origin. We must be prepared”.
FMT began with injection 22 years ago, “when the holes were still drilled by hand,” and knew how to adapt tool machines or ironworking machines to its requirements, so with the arrival of the first SDF machines, it did not hesitate to invest in the future. “For us, it was a revolution. It allowed us to achieve an excellent level of precision compared to finishing by hand. We moved all our production to the new system and today no manual operations are performed on the last, which is managed entirely by CAD, with the advantage of having every model digitised and digitally stored”.
Today S.L.I.M. 4.0 by Newlast will allow FMT to take a further step forward: “I believe that the future of automation will not only involve the injected product, but also the traditional product. At that point, it will be crucial to not only guarantee the accuracy, but also the productivity and punctuality in the deliveries.
The new system, furthermore, allows us to completely manage the last in the model-making phase and therefore to better manage the production process, guaranteeing high-level precision. Think of the safety industry where the tolerances in the positioning of the toe are infinitesimal. This system will give customers peace of mind and they will no longer be afraid of positioning the last in the mould.”