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Evatec-tools, the French carburetor that climbs - Report on Evamet site (71)

Evatec-tools, a group that has built its reputation on the manufacture of its own inserts and grades; French carbide.


Evatec-Tools: The French fuel manufacturer on the rise

It is a group that likes to keep a low profile, but whose know-how is firmly rooted in our country. A rare thing: this manufacturer of carbide tools, whether standard or custom-made, masters the entire production chain. Although it does not produce its own powders, it knows how to mix them. In short, a true carbide manufacturer made in France. Evatec-Tools is first and foremost a company, " where the pooling of various skills allows us to offer our customers a personalized and optimized range of products ", he describes himself on his website. In addition to manufacturing tungsten carbide, PCD, CBN and ceramic inserts and wear parts, it also produces standard and special tool holders with mechanical fastening. Its production facilities, spread from north to south on the map of France, ensure " a high level of reactivity ".

When Pascal Jullière founded his company in 1992, he began by trading in cutting tools. The year the French national team won the World Cup, he opened buildings in Thionville (Moselle) to create a resharpening business for PCD and CBN tools, and to meet the demand of local companies working mainly for the automotive industry. By integrating 5-axis sharpening, he developed his offer for milling cutters and other step drills.

The year 2001 marked Mr. Jullière's first external growth operation, with GMO. This Montbrison (Loire) company, founded in the mid-1970s, manufactures tools for moldmakers, before specializing in tool holders and attachment systems. Its production site is equipped with NC turning and 5-axis milling facilities, in addition to a design office of nearly six people. With about fifteen employees, GMO offers drilling heads from 25 to 350 mm in diameter, core drilling tools up to 700 mm in diameter, and counterboring tool holders, among others.

In 2004, Evatec-Tools takes over Carbex, which will become Evamet, in Creusot. This is a historic company in Saône-et-Loire. In 1958, tungsten carbide tools were already being manufactured there, behind the walls and under the Eiffel-style riveted metal framework built in 1911, which at the time housed the Schneider electrical station. Today, the Creusot site produces carbide inserts and wear parts. " We develop our own grades. Two people are in charge of this activity in our metallurgy laboratory, where the grades are not only developed but also tested , describes Benjamin, 38, Pascal Jullière's son. We make our own mixtures, we grind the tungsten powder, we master the granulation. We press, sinter and grind the powder, as well as the various coatings: CVD, TiN, TiNC, PVD and AL2O3 ".

Robotic Machines

The new managers of the group since 2017, Benjamin Julliere and his wife Kathia Fodil-Lemelin, both strongly involved in the company for a decade, give us a guided tour of the premises, quite unique in France. There is a workshop of pressing, with its presses to pastiller, where one will manufacture the blanks. " We press billets of material, in the form of bars, in a cold isostatic press, then we shape them on Somab CN lathes, before hardening them in one of the six HIP (Hot Isostatic Pressing) and dewaxing furnaces. Afterwards, it is either rectified in-house, or we supply the raw material to toolmakers, for example ", says Benjamin Jullière. The metal powders come from Eurotungstène, in Grenoble (Isère). The company supplies the powders to us separately, " he insists. Because we mix them afterwards ". A little further on, our guide takes us to the finishing workshop, where lapping operations are carried out to adjust the thickness of the inserts. Here, the peripheral grinding of the inserts is done on Agathon grinding machines, which are 4-axis robotic machines.
Evamet, which employs 38 people, has already benefited, in 2007, from an investment of 3.4 million euros from the group, "in order to perpetuate the activity in Le Creusot, in particular by mastering micrograin shades, which has allowed us to expand our color chart," justifies Benjamin Jullière.

Nearly 2 million euros of investment

Evatec-Tools last acquisition dates back to 2009. In Vaulx-en-Velin (Rhône), Create Outillage (19 employees) manufactures, to drawing, tools for companies engaged in cold and semi-hot forging, extrusion, cutting and metal forming activities, whose blanks come from the Le Creusot site. The company has expertise in wire and die sinking EDM, hard turning, surface and cylindrical grinding (internal and external). Finally, a sales subsidiary in Quebec, French-speaking Canada was a historical market for Carbex, which was added to the group's entities in Thionville.

The group's sales force consists of six technical sales representatives, including one in Quebec. " All of them have a technical background and workshop experience. The combination of these two skills is essential to respond to our customers requests, which often involve technical support and tool start-up ", reports ms. Fodil-Lemelin.

A new budget of nearly 2 million euros has been allocated to further improve the production resources of all its sites in France. For example, Evamet has purchased two Agathon Combi Plus 4-axis grinding machines with a continuous grinding wheel grinding system. "This operation, carried out by electro-erosion, consists of raising the abrasive grains by partially eliminating the binder," explains Benjamin Jullière. The new grinding machines, which have a 400 mm diameter grinding wheel, are equipped with a Scara robot that can handle up to 15 pallets. Investments have also been made in finishing systems for the treatment of the cutting edge of carbide inserts, in order to obtain a smoother edge finish and better chip sliding.

Grinding oblong shapes

In Moselle, Evatec-Tools has acquired a new 5-axis Saacke robotic grinding machine for its market of solid carbide rotary tools for machining composites and honeycomb materials. As for Create Outillage, its shop received a new Studer S31 grinding machine in February 2017, whose technical capabilities now allow it to grind oblong shapes. Added to this was a Fanuc Robocut wire EDM cutting machine, from the Alpha series. Finally, the GMO subsidiary is due to receive its fourth C.B. Ferrari A156 5-axis milling center this year, in order to support the increase in its production rate.

The renewal of its production equipment is part of its strategic plan, as is the deployment of lean manufacturing, which enables the French group to remain competitive and responsive in a highly competitive carbide tool market.

Evatec-Tools Imagine the tool of tomorrow

Evatec-Tools is a company that likes to look ahead, even far ahead. The group specializing in the design and manufacture of cutting tools has been participating in the Lorraine LabCom Lariopac (Laboratory for Research and Innovation of Tools for Advanced Cutting Processes) since 2015. Together with the team of the Joint Research Unit of the University of Lorraine and the CNRS, and experts from Lemta (Laboratory of Energetics and Applied Theoretical Mechanics) based in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, Evatec-Tools is working on the creation of a new generation of tools capable of self-managing wear during the machining process. With these "Smart tools", the aim is to "master the material-product-process interactions governing the behavior of tools during machining under extreme thermomechanical loading and to design tools with new geometries", says the Lariopac research department.

Another project : Dry to fly. Led by Mecachrome, in Amboise (Indre-et-Loire), and supported by Cirtes (contract research center focused on additive manufacturing and advanced machining, in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges), this R&D project, initiated in 2015, aims to reduce the production costs of large parts by 30%, by designing "a new concept of intelligent subtractive manufacturing cell," says the Viameca competitiveness cluster, one of the partners with Materalia, EMC2 and Cetim. Three avenues are being explored, as detailed by the Technical Center for Mechanical Industries: material preparation using an innovative 3D cutting system, new machining strategies with the elimination of CAM, replaced by stratoconception algorithms (solid/solid type additive manufacturing process) and adaptive control, and cryogenic assistance for machining.