For many years, my father, Miguel, worked as a lathe operator for a large machining business, until it went bust. At the time, my older brother, Xavier, was a machinist running a vertical milling machine. I was finishing my studies, and it seemed like the perfect time to begin working together. It was 1999, and we started out by making a lot of parts for plant maintenance and spares.
We wanted to diversify and we needed a unique strategy, rather than just being yet another sub-contract machining business. So, we kind of decided just to say yes to every opportunity. We felt that, between us, we could handle anything that came our way.
However, in the early days, we just had three manual mills – nothing special, which meant our equipment limited us. At that time, we were based next to the Haas Factory Outlet, so every now and then we would drop-in and talk to the distributor about Haas machines. We bought our first one – a VF-4SS Super Speed machine with a 12,000-rpm spindle in 2004. Had the VM mould-making machine existed at the time, we would have bought one.
We were happy with our investment, but later, we bought a VM-3 and a VM-6, which gave us additional flexibility – especially when it comes to making best use of the table space and the increased accuracy. They allowed us to move more towards mould and die manufacturing.
We also make parts for machines for plastic packaging. For example, the Haas machines are currently making three components of an assembly used to blow air into a blow-moulding machine. The material is 7075 aluminium, and the tolerances are less than 0.01 mm, which the Haas machines can easily achieve. We typically make batches of less than ten-off, although sometimes we need to make a series of parts, and also one-offs and prototypes. This is where the Haas VM machines really shine. They allow us to be very flexible and reduce set-up times, which, when you’re saying yes to different parts almost every day, is very important.
Our early experiences with the VF-4 convinced us we would become a Haas machine shop. That first machine is now twelve years old. We run it hard, and it hasn’t lost any accuracy and it has been very reliable – day in, day out. For what we spent, the alternative would have been a machine from the Far East; probably lower quality, and poor service and reliability.
We have a Haas trunnion table on the VM-6, which gives us five-axes of machining. That’s amazing performance and value for money! It means we can offer a very competitive unit price – which, in turn, means the Haas machines pay for themselves quickly, which gives us peace-of-mind.
When we came to an open house at the Brussels showroom, we noticed the plastic bottles of the Haas-branded bottled water were injection-moulded by our customer in Spain. We make that mould using the Haas VM machines!
Many of our clients are now requesting more complicated parts. They’re very happy with the service and quality we deliver, and with our ability to resolve complex machining problems without charging extremely high prices. Turns out our decision to say Yes! as much as possible has been very good for business.