Gamagori Seisakusho is a manufacturer of components of precision machinery. The company’s motto is high-mix, low-volume production, and while the company has only 13 people, it has been involved and continues working on requests from a number of research institutes such as the National Institute for Molecular Science (Japan) to manufacture its experimental devices and to produce parts for artificial satellites. The company’s greatest strength is in the finishing of easily-distorted cut materials, such as lamination of products with complex shapes with a high degree of precision, and can perform processing up to ±3~5 microns. The company’s precise metal processing technology, combined with the capability to provide the best solution brought about by its extensive experience, makes the company highly valued, especially in the United States and Europe. In fact, the company was involved in one of the biggest projects in the world in 2011: to install the world’s most accurate telescope in Chile.
“To accomplish the impossible”
Having the technical capability to create complex machine parts
In 2011, an international astronomical observation project proposal was brought to a small factory town in Gamagori City, Aichi Prefecture (Japan). The project, called “ALMA Project,” led mainly by agencies based in the United States and Europe, was about installing the world’s most accurate telescope in Chile. In order to achieve the required accuracy, high-performance, high-frequency 10-radio waves were needed than ever before, and in order to create the telescope with this accuracy, each part must be made with exacting precision.
This technological hurdle was simply too high, and observers from other countries pointed out that the development of this telescope was impossible. The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, which was the agency responsible for the project’s development, began looking for top-caliber fabricators who can not only accomplish the impossible, but also have experience in the development of space-related equipment, thus Gamagori Seisakusho was chosen for the project.
The ALMA project proposal involves manufacturing a reflecting mirror made from aluminum that will receive radio waves from outer space, and a waveguide that connects the radio waves to the measuring instrument. In particular, the radio wave reflecting mirror, which is the main component of the receiving equipment, is such a complex structure that in order to make it, a form error constraint of only within 0.01 mm is strictly imposed. If the block raw material is simply chipped away, then distortion due to thermal expansion occurs immediately and this will not produce a product with high accuracy.
As other companies continue to drop out of the project due to the gradually growing stringent demands, Gamagori Seisakusho introduced the latest machining equipment and in-house fixtures in the production to standardize the finishing of the product. As a result, together with the cooperation of technicians from Japan’s National Astronomical Observatory, the 10-radio wave reflecting mirror of the highest accuracy was completed.
The ALMA telescope started operations in March last year, and in the telescope’s receiving equipment; the waveguide and the wave-reflecting mirror created by the company are used. The company’s products, which are the result of one year’s trial and error efforts, are at the cutting edge of space research; currently, they are used in the mission to explore the origin of life and the secret of the birth of the universe.
The company’s origins: “Failure is a stepping stone to success”
The company’s strengths lie in its extensive experience in joint-development; as mentioned previously, the company was engaged in the development of the ALMA telescope, and in the manufacture of inspection equipment used by research institutes and of artificial satellites, such as the ASTRO-H X-ray astronomy satellite that was launched by JAXA. The secret how the company won the trust of researchers lies in its high-mix, low-volume production process.
Since its start of operations, the company has continued to provide products to other fields such as aerospace and semiconductors; including medical equipment and optical equipment industries. While working in various industries, the company’s abrasion processing covered a wide range materials, mainly aluminum, and ranging from gold, resin, stainless steel, and titanium. In addition, the company provided products made of special, difficult-to-cut materials, such as 18-karat gold, and copper tungsten that does not undergo thermal change. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Toshihiro Ito stresses that the company can provide solutions that meet the needs of customers through a variety of technologies and know-how.
“Our company’s strength lies in our ingenuity in the production process; our high-mix, low-volume production process made us experience numerous successes and failures, and this made us better at what we do. By going after the reasons why things do not work, we have accumulated our knowledge regarding production design, and in making precision instruments and fixtures that are tailored to the qualities and shape of the material. To elaborate further, we have received a request from a leading precision chemistry manufacturer to produce optical parts of mammography equipment.
The company said that the products produced by their 20 subcontractors have a twisted deformation which occurs during processing. The client then gave us a one month grace period, and using our in-house devices we have succeeded in producing the required optical parts with no distortion. This case instilled in us a sense of urgency to always be prepared for challenges on the floor. Our ingenuity that we have obtained by learning from our failures is what differentiates us from other companies.”
“Cost reduction worth 1.65 billion yen in one year”
The idea that brought the customer amazing cost savings
The company’s achievements such as making perfect parts of mammography equipment are too numerous to mention. The company’s ingenuity went into full effect when it won a contract to manufacture parts from the largest optical equipment manufacturer in the country.
Originally, the optical equipment manufacturer takes up to 40 hours to mirror-finish an aluminum plate with a thickness of 0.5 mm and a diameter of 250 mm. However, we improved the process by cutting 20 microns from the aluminum plate before the mirror-finish process, and because of this improvement the processing time of the optical equipment manufacturer was greatly reduced to just three hours. This led to significant reduction in the overhead costs amounting to 1.65 billion annually.
The reason for this astounding improvement in profits was because of the set of clamp technologies that the company has accumulated. Usually, finishing a thin sheet without creating deformation is a difficult process, and it is important to evenly fix the materials being finished, but here the company has showed its ingenuity to the fullest. Through trial and error, we started with the production of specially-made fixtures for this purpose; the material being scraped was firmly fixed in a way that cannot be performed by other companies, and this led to the processing of the thin sheet.
“If you need help with your projects, then leave them to us”
Amazing Ultra-precision Machining that never fails to inspire and surprise
The company’s CEO Toshihiro Ito is a certified metallurgical engineer, and has been providing solutions to the challenges faced by other companies in their manufacturing processes and in their products.
“The company’s greatest strength is finishing thin sheets, complex materials, and materials that distort easily with a high degree of precision. We are always available to provide solutions to difficult projects. In the processing industry, diagrams are used as the basis for production, but we take one step further and work harder to provide our Amazing Ultra-precision Machining to inspire and surprise our customers.”
“Currently, the company processes up to ±3 to 5 microns, but in this industry, our company also competes with small-town factories that perform precision machining up to 20 microns, and factories in the apparatus industry that perform nano-fabrication up to 0.1 microns. However, between this precision machining and this nano-fabrication process, companies that can perform a small amount of processing up to 1 micron, for example, do not exist. Our company aims to become the best company in this niche; the company that can receive orders of even a small amount of ultra-precision machining ranging from 1 micron to sub-micron and 1 micron, and every day we continue to refine our methods.”
In recent years, the company has received attention from the aerospace industry. However, the company wants to continue expanding overseas and not being limited to the medical equipment and aerospace industry. The ability to provide the best solution, and the ingenuity in processing are the strengths of the company, and it is committed to resolving the burden of companies that have problems with products that are difficult to process, and in doing so builds a lasting relationship that results in added value for both parties. The company seeks a wide range of partners from all over the world.
Gamagori Seisakusho Co. Ltd.
Business Description: Manufacturing of parts for precision machinery
Address of company headquarters:
28-10, Miyuki-cho, Gamagori-city, Aichi, 443-0042 Japan
CEO: Toshihiro Ito