Source: ISMR / 06-11-2023

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

On the fast track

Q-Fin will be highlighting its robotic cell, double-sided deburring lines, handling solutions and new Qonnect+ software at this year’s Blechexpo in Stuttgart.

ISMR SAYS: ”The Dutch surface-finishing specialist has an eye on innovation and a strong vision for growth.”

Since its creation in 2013, Q-Fin Quality Finishing Machines has focused on the development, production and sales of machines for deburring, edge rounding and finishing of sheet-metal parts. The Dutch company, part of a larger group of four companies, also builds dust extraction machines to combine with its finishing machines. It has already picked up several awards including the surface-finishing technology prize at EuroBLECH 2018 in Hanover and, in 2019, a Blechexpo award for its F200 XL small parts machine. The dynamic manufacturer has, on average, released two technology innovations every year since its foundation and has exhibited strong growth levels in both staff and turnover over the past few years. Fresh from showcasing its products at exhibitions in Germany, Czech Republic and the Netherlands recently, Q-Fin outlined its latest new developments, technology innovations and recent investments to ISMR.

Automation and handling
Q-Fins’s head office, with showroom and demonstration centre, is at Bergeijk (Noord-Brabant), The Netherlands. All its machines are assembled there although metal components, after engineering, are sourced from its sister companies in the group. It is currently building a second hall, focusing on handling solutions, at its new premises in Bergeijk. “Our new 1500m² building, which will be dedicated to handling solutions, is almost finished. We expect to move into the building in mid-November. Handling solutions around deburring machines are becoming more and more important for customers. There is a lack of manual labour for loading/ unloading machines and to move parts onto processes such as bending or welding, for example, so process automation has come more into focus to ensure quality. As this is such a large part of our activities now, we decided to create a new department and a new building dedicated to automation and handling solutions,” Joost Kouwenbergh, Business Officer, Q-Fin, told ISMR. Robotic handling is also a key feature of the company’s customised deburring lines. Q-Fin works with Yaskawa who provide the robots for loading and unloading the deburring machines. “Imagine a double-sided deburring line with infeed and outfeed tables, plus robotic cells and 3D cameras at the front and back of the line. These types of lines are becoming more popular than stand-alone deburring machines. In our new hall, we will have the space to properly showcase lines with one or two robot cells and double-sided deburring lines,” explained Joost Kouwenbergh.

Kouwenbergh outlined Q-Fin’s latest TwinLine (featuring two SER1200 Multibrush systems and a Q2S1200 turnaround system) which it is about to install at Weber Maschinenbau’s facility in Germany. “We use turnaround systems for doublesided finishing of sheet-metal products. Weber Maschinenbau, for example, bought two of our latest SER1200 Multibrush finishing machines (introduced at EuroBLECH 2022) with Q2S turnaround unit four months ago. This is a huge and impressive line for optimal two-sided finishing. Weber was quick to see its potential; we may possibly add robots at the front and back of the line later,” confirmed Kouwenbergh.

“The TwinLine is for double-sided deburring and finishing with two machines, not one, because we are convinced that users looking for large-radius processing and rapid production cannot do this on one double-sided machine. One machine, in our experience, cannot put enough real pressure on the products for high-quality edge rounding. Our machines use a one-sided process and parts can then be turned using our Q2S1200 part-turnaround station,” he added.

In the meantime, Q-Fin is working hard on the launch of its robotic cells for loading and unloading its finishing machines. Customers have also agreed to buy the first customised robot deburring lines as launch customers. The 3D camera and the software combined with the gripper will make a big difference. Depending upon the shape, size, weight and material of the product being handled, the right robot cell can be offered. One of Q-Fin’s launch customers, INNO-metaal in Eindhoven, will start with a loading robot in front of the deburring machine and use another robot for unloading the machine next year. Q-Fin’s
second customer is looking at a SER1200 system with robots at the front and back of the line (and 3D camera to scan products and unload them onto AGVs holding pallets). Entered for a Blechexpo Best Award, the RC1200 Robot Cell has been developed by Q-Fin in collaboration with key partners. The fully programmable, ‘all-in-one’ SER1200 Multibrush deburring system provides flat sheet-metal parts automatically with a wide range of finishes: deburring; grinding; edge-rounding up to 3mm; oxide removal; directionless finish; line finish and/ or Radius 2+. All machining stations are individually adjustable and programmable for reproducibility of products and to eliminate the risk of operator errors. “The new machine can now process parts with a maximum width of 1200mm and is fully automated. It has a smarter structure, uses much less energy and can also be connected to an ERP package or scanner, so that the machine is no longer dependent on settings by the machine operators,” explained Joost Kouwenbergh.

Pushing the edge
Q-Fin has seen high growth levels over the last few years. In two years, the company moved from 30 to 45 people. Kouwenbergh expects a 40% rise in turnover this year, as a result of the company’s impressive growth levels. “We place enormous importance  on continuous innovation or ‘Pushing the Edge’, as we like to call it. If we spot a niche for a new type of machine, we will introduce it. Eight engineers, out of 45 people here in Bergeijk, focus on research and development activities. Our latest projects have been centred on software and product handling,” he told ISMR. A strong example of a significant R&D project is the company’s new Qonnect+ software system, which links Q-Fin deburring machines, robots, AGVs and ERP systems. “We were being asked more and more for this type of software by customers who want to control and optimise the entire deburring process and monitor it through their ERP production control systems. This software helps the deburring machine to talk to ERP systems, robots, AGVs etc. so that they can all collaborate. We believe that we are the only supplier of deburring machines with this software. We are testing the software now to connect to an ERP system called MKG, used by many metalworking companies, and are readying the deburring machines so that, with the right information, they can set themselves up automatically,” explained Joost Kouwenbergh. Automatic disc brush calibration, or Q Calibration as Q-Fin likes to call it, has been introduced as an option for the automatic finishing machines so that operators no longer need to manually adjust brush levels for edge-rounding operations. The machines are therefore less dependent on operators and are easier to use. In response to soaring energy costs, Q-Fin also added energy calculations to its Returnon-Investment models for customers to gauge when they can recoup costs back on their machines. Kouwenbergh emphasised ecofriendly features of the finishing lines such as energy-saving motors, adjustable workstations and process automation. The company’s international sales team has also grown. It now has two account managers and two agents in Germany, one of its most important markets. It has also hired a new export manager for all other countries (except Germany and Benelux), who will liaise with its global dealer network and spot potential new sales opportunities in different regions. “Although Europe is our main focus, we have already sold machines in, for example, Australia, Malaysia, the U.S. and South Africa. We want to expand everywhere, not just in Europe,” Kouwenbergh told ISMR.

Blechexpo in focus

Q-Fin has also expanded its stand space at the Blechexpo exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany (7-10 November 2023), to 136 square metres. It will showcase an operational robot cell at the exhibition and highlight automation around its machines, including its new Q-Calibration software. A key focus will be its SER1200 Multibrush. This Super Edge Rounder features two different brush techniques (a combination of the F1200 machine with one grinding belt and four oscillating disk brushes, and a Multibrush rotor with six brushes and a second grinding unit for line graining). The option of vacuum or magnetic support systems unlock new possibilities for processors of stainless steel as well as thicker steel. “The SER1200 is for products up to 1200mm wide and for users who want large deburring machines that are capable of various different operations. It offers high speeds and directionless finish, with edge rounding up to 3mm,” explained Kouwenbergh. “We also have a machine with vacuum system for operators working with stainless steel products that need a directionless finish. We can do edge rounding with the brushes in front and ensure a directionless finish with the multi-brush. Combining these two systems gives us a definite advantage. A derivative of this, the new M1200 Multibrush machine, will be ready at the beginning of next year featuring a grinding unit and Multibrush station.”

A strong vision

Q-Fin aims to double its turnover in two years’ time and is positioning itself to meet that ambitious target. However, it told ISMR, it is also aware that rapid growth needs strong and stable support. “Companies who are looking to grow and innovate are still willing to spend money as long as they can win back the investment, ensure higher quality etc. We don’t expect that situation to change in the next two years. We expect to grow a lot more as customers invest in new techniques, such as robotics and automated handling solutions. We have increased our capacity in Germany (we may even take on a third account manager there) and we also see potential for growth in certain European countries,” highlighted Kouwenbergh. “Our goal for the next five years, to 2028, is to position our deburring machines as the new standard in deburring and we will keep pushing the boundaries,” he reiterated. Q-Fin has set up all its machines in working order so that customers can test their own products by appointment at its Experience Centre in Bergeijk. “At Q-Fin, we help organisations that want to make a lasting impression e.g. businesses who are ready to get started with their 4.0 version. Those who believe that simple production processes are not obstacles, but opportunities to distinguish themselves from the rest. Just as we also strive to stand out,” Kouwenbergh concluded.

Meet Q-Fin B.V. at Blechexpo 2023
(7-10 November 2023) in Hall 5 on stand 5407