Starrag STC 800 X provides diverse growth opportunities for Schaller Group
Speed, power and precision are coveted qualities to Justin and Maryann Schaller, both in terms of the Schaller Group family-owned business and in their other shared passion of hydroplane racing. The speed, power and precision of Starrag’s STC 800 X is playing a role in both the Schaller business and their racing.
The brother and sister duo have executive positions with the Schaller Group, a third-generation, Michigan-based precision metal forming and assembly company that manufactures parts found in the aerospace, military, automotive and medical industries.
For ten years, the Schaller siblings ran their own CNC machining company but in 2018 opted to bring their expertise back into the family-owned stamping business. The company expanded one of its plants to 90,000 sq. ft. (8,360 m2). Designated for CNC machining, it is one of six specialized manufacturing plants operated by the Schaller Group in the Detroit, Michigan area.
Ideal for complex aluminum workpieces
The STC 800 X is ideally suited for machining complex aluminum workpieces due to its precision capabilities and axis configuration. Being capable of continuous five-axis milling with the use of a rotary table and 160 hp (120 kW) tilting spindle (S1), Schaller is able to machine with up to 160 hp (120 kW) and 30,000 rpm. With the A-axis range –100 /+ 60 degrees, no angle heads are necessary for machining aerostructures. The rotary table allows the economical machining by using a tombstone setup or multiple parts and fixtures on the same table. Additionally, the STC at Schaller has been integrated into a manufacturing system, allowing flexibility.
“The speed and accuracy of these machines were important reasons why we chose Starrag”
The result is speed, power and precision
“This is the perfect machine for our growth plans,” said Business Development specialist Maryann Schaller. “We recently poured the foundation to add a second STC 800 X to our operation, and because we purchased a Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) with the first STC 800 X, we have the ability to have multiple machines in a single manufacturing line.” One example of new opportunities is medical devices. In March of 2020, Schaller Corporation manufactured and donated parts for a prototype ventilator project at a University in the hopes of helping with the Covid crisis. And while that project did not take off as hoped, it showed Schaller another market where the precision and speed of the Starrag STC 800 X will be greatly beneficial. “The speed and accuracy of these machines were big reasons why we chose Starrag,” said Maryann Schaller.
Precision, quality, total cost of ownership, guaranteed 95% uptime are all competitive advantages for Starrag’s manufacturing technologies.
Buyer’s journey was seamless
Schaller Group Chief Technologist Justin Schaller said the customer journey from research to demonstration to purchase to installation of the STC 800 X was seamless. “I don’t even feel like a customer of Starrag,” he said. “We have a relationship that’s really more like a partnership.” That relationship formed at the IMTS (International Manufacturing Technology Show), where Justin Schaller was introduced to Starrag products. ”When the right project came along in 2020, it provided us the opportunity to purchase the Starrag STC 800 X.”
The foundation was poured and installation was completed in September 2020. However, the project was put on hold because the additive manufacturing customer converted its manufacturing to produce testing swabs for use by healthcare professionals during the pandemic. The customer is now re-engaged with Schaller Group to fulfill the original project. “It’s typical for us to have long-term relationships with our customers, some extending several decades,” said Starrag North America Sales Director Tim Mooney. “The STC 800 X is ideal for machining 55 in. (1,400 mm) or smaller precision parts, which is what Schaller needs for the complex aerospace, defense and specialty industry markets it is expanding into.”
“We’ll be putting in a couple of more Starrag machines” Maryann Schaller, Business Development specialist
Diversify into high performance racing
One such growth area being pursued is high performance racing where the Schallers combine their passion for CNC machining with their love of racing. High performance racing includes watercraft like hydroplanes and sleek offshore boats as well as various forms of auto racing like stock, drag and rally racing. All rely on quality-built aluminum parts. According to Maryann Schaller, “the Starrag STC 800 X is the perfect machine for our expansion into the high-performance racing industry. Our experience racing hydroplanes has introduced us to a network of potential customers. The speed of the machine along with the ability to utilize tombstones on a multi-pallet system will allow us to be competitive in the manufacturing of engine blocks, heads, manifolds and other performance racing products.”
Example of an aluminum structural part machined on the Starrag STC 800 X
Precision, quality, total cost of ownership, guaranteed 95% uptime are all competitive advantages for Starrag’s manufacturing technologies. One Starrag customer, with a nine-machine setup with FMS, has an uptime of 98%. “Having machines that are highly reliable and able to manufacture the most challenging parts consistently are part of the Starrag guarantee,” said Mooney. “That’s really what drives business, because manufacturers want their machines running 24-7 without the need for constant intervention. We started in the aerospace industry in the 1980s,” said Maryann Schaller. “It’s a great growth market, but we also know the importance of diversifying.” Schaller selected Starrag because the equipment can be utilized in a wide array of industries. It is not just for use in the aerospace industry, but any industry that requires high precision, complex parts. Examples include various racing vehicles, satellites or electrical vehicles. “Starrag’s capabilities allows Schaller to meet those diverse, industry needs,” said Maryann Schaller. The STC 800 X has unique features like a 30,000 rpm, 160 hp (120 kW) spindle, an all steel gear A-axis, and standard pallet changing. Other key features for optimum aluminum machining include ambient temperature controlled coolant, vacuum clamping, automated part measurement and automated machine calibration. The Schaller Group has poured the foundation for a second STC 800 X and with the anticipated growth and diversification, “we’ll be putting in a couple of more Starrag machines,” said Maryann Schaller. “To us, Starrag and automation make sense.” It’s off to the races for the Schallers in 2021.