The chips are flying in the “Lamborghini basement”
Premium bodywork upstairs and high-tech production downstairs: There couldn’t be a more perfect setting for a workshop producing luxury goods. The Lamborghini Genève showroom is used to showcase luxury Italian sports cars to wealthy customers, while, in the basement, Niru Swiss is busy machining highly complex components for the jewelry and watchmaking industry. For a decade now, the starring role in the basement operation has been played by a Bumotec s191V from Starrag.
Small, sophisticated and exclusive – three words that perfectly sum up Niru Swiss, part of the Tel Aviv-based international company Niru Diamonds Israel Ltd. Niru Diamonds Israel Ltd. was founded four decades ago in India by Mr. Ranjeet Barmecha and has built a reputation for machining and finishing rough diamonds. In 2009, the company established a state-of-the-art CNC factory in Geneva with a view to extending its expertise into other sectors. In addition to taking on projects for the jewelry industry, Niru Swiss SA and its four employees now work primarily for premium Swiss watch brands. The work mainly consists of producing cases from all the established materials, such as aluminum, stainless steel, gold and titanium. Jobs generally involve between 10 and 300 units.
"For me, what’s most important in this competitive field is the ability to deliver optimum productivity, precision and stability. And that’s why I can say with certainty that my next CNC machine will also be a Bumotec.”
Julien Ducommon, Niru Managing Director
“Competition in this field is extremely tough here,” explains Managing Director Julien Ducommon. “We make our mark by focusing on producing incredibly complex components for the jewelry and watchmaking industry; we use our Bumotec to produce these components to impressive standards of quality and precision, guaranteed.“ The investment in the Geneva site allowed Niru not only to gain a foothold in the watchmaking industry, but also to successfully tap into new industries. “I now occasionally even produce prototypes for medical technology,” says Ducommon. “And I machine not just metals, but also plastics, such as PEEK. Most of the prototypes are generally turned and cut in a single clamping operation.”
The team in Geneva uses a total of four CNC machine tools, three of which were already owned by a company that Niru acquired. When it came to selecting a fourth machine, Niru Swiss consciously opted for the Bumotec s191V vertical high-performance CNC machining center, which delivers precise, productive machining. The combination of linear motors, direct drives, nano interpolation and a high measurement resolution of 1/100 µm supports excellent contouring accuracy (e.g. a roundness of 1.4 μm with a radius of 1.97 in). The “excellent thermal stability” allows Julien Ducommon and his team to turn and cut components continuously from early in the morning until late at night without any loss of precision. With this technology, the team can work across five axes simultaneously, and components are machined using a single clamping operation. “Used in conjunction with an automation unit, the Bumotec can also be operated without the need for human intervention – a bit like a ghost shift,” adds Stéphane Violante, Marketing Project Manager at Starrag Vuadens SA. “All in all, the costs per part are therefore significantly lower than with other machining centers that purport to be more economical.”
Julien Ducommon, Niru Managing Director
“We make our mark by focusing on producing incredibly complex components for the jewellery and watchmaking industry; we use our Bumotec to produce these components to impressive standards of quality and precision, guaranteed.”
The investment also paid off by virtue of the impressive feed speed (1.97 in /minute) and acceleration (1.2g), as well as the ability to achieve an outstanding spindle speed of 30,000 rpm within 1.5 seconds. The s191V comes with a Fanuc-31i control unit that makes it easier to operate the Bumotec’s special, interactive user interfaces. Julien Ducommon is painfully aware that Bumotec owners are clearly won over by all the benefits the machine offers: “I would have bought a used Bumotec, but they very rarely become available.”
Precision work: The case of the new UR-111C wristwatch is just 0.59 in high and 1.8 in wide and is cut from a stainless-steel blank using a Bumotec s191V from Starrag. The case also includes a 0.79-in-deep side compartment to accommodate the movement.
The complex components that Niru is dealing with can only be manufactured effectively if there is close collaboration with the customer in relation to CAD /CAM considerations. Julien Ducommon usually receives a CAD file. He uses the GibbsCAM program to simulate the machining process on a computer; this optimizes the subsequent process, including the traverse paths. The fine-tuning work is done on the Bumotec itself. Although Niru Swiss uses digital in-line measurement technology, Ducommon also carries out quality assurance on all components after the machining process using high-tech equipment. Julien Ducommon: “Even though we produce simulations and carry out optimization work beforehand, continuous monitoring is the only way to ensure that we comply with all the applicable parameters for the complex components we are machining. The perfection level of each component we produce must always be documented. That is simply the reality of producing complex, high-quality components in small production runs.”
When new orders are received, the team in Geneva completes small test runs that involve producing a small number of test components. If the results are good, larger orders may be received. One of the factors that helped Niru Swiss to build such a solid reputation is the collaboration with avant-garde brand Urwerk and its founder Felix Baumgartner, who Julien Ducommon knows from his time working in the watchmaking industry earlier in his career. The Bumotec machining center is currently proving its worth with a special component for the Urwerk brand (also see the separate interview with Urwerk CEO Baumgartner and Starrag Manager Violante on page 30): The case of the new UR-111C wristwatch is just 0.59 in high and 1.8 in wide, and there is no screw-mountable bottom plate. Instead, it is cut from an aluminum blank and includes a 0.79-in-deep side compartment to accommodate the movement. The work is completed to the high quality that is synonymous with the Bumotec, delivering excellent repeating accuracy to the last micrometer, from early in the morning until late at night.
Niru Swiss is set to gain even more recognition thanks to its work on this component. With this in mind, 35-year-old Julien Ducommon is already turning his attention to a new workshop that will provide much more space for both staff and machines. But how does he view the importance of the Bumotec brand in this extensive process, particularly with reference to the Starrag brand message “Engineering precisely what you value”? Julien Ducommon: “For me, what’s most important in this competitive field is the ability to deliver optimum productivity, precision and stability. And that’s why I can say with certainty that my next CNC machine will also be a Bumotec.”