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FEHLMANN Milling/Drilling Machines


Fehlmann AG are a family-owned Swiss company founded during 1929, in the town of Seengen, by Willie Fehlmann - whose early work as a jobbing engineer was concerned, like so many of his kind, with providing a repair service and parts for the local metal-working industries.  By 1936 his company's first machine-tools were in production - a metal-coping saw, vices and two sizes of column-type drilling machines - but it was not until 1954 (and the graduation as a professional engineer of Fehlmann's son Willie Junior) that work started on the design of what was to make the company so well known, a high-precision, bench-mounted  combined milling and drilling machine. By 1958 the "mill-drill" was ready for market and, listed as the Model TB13C, was an immediate success with the added bonus that, because the co-ordinate table so well made and accurate, it proved saleable as a separate component and was soon to be found widely employed not only in engineering applications under drills (and on the tables of heavy millers for very precise work) but also attached to such things as electric-discharge machines.
By 1968 the company had developed the Model P18, a somewhat heavier and more versatile version of the original with a quill travel of 110 mm and a drilling capacity in steel of 18 mm. A 2-speed motor was fitted that drove a mechanical variable-speed drive unit (V-pulleys opening and closing in unison) to give a speed range from 132 to 45000 r.p.m. on a 50 Hz supply. A choice of three superbly constructed co-ordinate tables was offered, 280 x 210 mm, 350 x 260 mm and 450 x 260 mm, together with a range of accessories including a fine-feed quill with micrometer stop, dividing heads and sine and rotary tables. Eventually the range of tables - which could be bought separately for use on other machine tools - encompassed some nine different sizes from 140 x 330 mm, as used on the smallest-ever Fehlmann Model the P10 drill, to a substantial KSV420 which, as its name suggest, was 420 x 910 mm. By 1970 the P18 had been further improved by the availability of the Company's SF32 tool-changing system that allowed the cutter to be replaced with remarkable rapidity - a figure of under three seconds being claimed. Two years later the company's growth was such that a move was made to its present location in Seon, in the Valais region, where a new factory was constructed and employment provided for around 35 staff.
During the early 1970s, with the benefits of NC control becoming obvious, Fehlamann introduced their "Picomax" range, in essence the same mill-drill as before but fitted with a suitably-adapted control system, the new machine being shown for the first time at the 1975 Paris EMO Exhibition..
By 1992, with an increasing demand for what was now a unique and versatile product, the production area was doubled in size and the workforce grew to around 110. High speed cutting (HSC) and 5-axis control were the next developments to excite the machine-tool world and Fehlmann were able to enter this competitive field in 1994 with their Picomax 82-M, a machine whose cutter rotated so quickly that the spindle had to be water-cooled. With an ever-increasing demand for HSC technology, Feldhmann built a new assembly hall in 1998 and, by 2004 had increased its number of employees to 160.
Although the manual mill-drill machines are still made, the company now has a more complete range that includes CNC milling centres, HSC milling machines and specialised products such as parts-handling equipment for computer-controlled machine tools. 
Continued below:

Fehlmann Picomax 50

Continued:
With superb fit and finish and a considerable weight - some versions on the maker's stand could exceed 650 Kg-- the Fehlmann mill-drill upholds that long-standing Swiss tradition of making only the finest-quality machine tools - and not being frightened to charge accordingly - the current models starting at a figure in excess of Sf50,000 (around 33,000).
While almost everybody is familiar with the concept of a mill-drill, the Taiwanese having produced many hundreds of thousands of cheap examples for the amateur and small professional workshop and garage market, the standard Fehlmann is of an unusual configuration. It combines the mechanical features and quality of a table-top jig borer, yet is perfectly adapted (with all the correct speeds) for ordinary milling, drilling and tapping. Numerous detailed touches abound to make the operator's job easier with built-in, integrated electrical controls and a stand having a selection of properly proportioned drawers and rubber-covered platforms at either side of the machine base to allow the storage of  work in in progress and tooling. Some models also had a separate and very convenient swing-out tool and work holder on the machine's left-hand side.
Power rise and fall is fitted to the column with (on some version) an ingenious, multi-position rotating adjustable stop. Equipped with Fehlmann's own very efficient and easy-to-use quick-release tooling, users working in toolrooms reporting that the spindle has a movement of "absolute perfection" with a perfectly balanced, zero-backlash action that beats even a Moore jib borer for sensitivity of feel and control of the cutting tool. Although the table might be considered rather short of longitudinal travel, it is superbly constructed with its Heidenhain digital read-out scales integrated into the structure - not just bolted on. Convenient pushbuttons are fitted at the end of each handwheel: push in for power feed, push again to stop the  feed - a wonderfully easy and certain way of exercising control.
With a powerful, wide-range, variable-speed drive (conveniently altered by a control lever sliding in a slot arranged at an angle across the front face of the head) combined with it's other well-thought-out controls, the Fehlmann Mill/Drill must considered one of the most desirable general-purpose machine to have in any workshop - from toolroom to maintenance. Muller Machines in Switzerland often has a range of used Fehlmann drills for sale..

On the left-hand side of the head can be seen the multi-position adjustable and rotating down-feed stop - a unit not, unfortunately, fitted to all examples

Fehlmann catalogue illustration of the P18 with the optional swing-out tool holder, quick-change spindle nose and a set of "finger" table clamps


email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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FEHLMANN Milling/Drilling Machines