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Another Industry First from FICEP

Sub Axis Drill Spindle Positioning

A Quantum Leap Forward in ReducingFabrication Cost

Since FICEP invented the first 3 spindle automatic drilling line in 1965 All lines incorporated the basic design concept that the spindles shared the same centerline.  This permitted holes in both flanges and the web to be processed simultaneously if they shared the same length axis coordinates.  While there are hole patterns that meet can meet this criteria studies have revealed that in most cases the hole pattern does not accommodate the ability to engage all three spindles simultaneously.

The engineering department at FICEP has traditionally taken their product designs to the next level to drive the steel fabrication industry to a higher level of productivity, as the competitiveness of the industry has always been their common objective.  The sub axis capability is also incorporated into the FICEP plate fabrication systems.

The creative task of engineering the capability of sub axis spindle positioning into the FICEP product line delivers a substantial increase in productivity, accuracy and capability.


  1. When processing structural steel all three spindles can be engaged to generate holes in both flanges and the web even when they do not share the same length coordinate.

  2. Scribing can occur on up to 4 surfaces simultaneously rather be limited to just one surface at a time with lines without sub axis positioning capability.  A 400% increase in scribing productivity alone!

  3. The hole to hole positioning speed, that occurs in milliseconds, and corresponding "chip to chip" processing time for a drill spindle with sub axis capability is industry leading.  Just compare the requirement and timing of moving a part that could weigh over 40,000 pounds with a spindle that moves to the next position in milliseconds!


  1. When required to position a section that could weigh from 100 to 40,000 pounds for example, the axis in position window dimension needs to be increased to reduce the time to position a section to the required location.
  2. The constant mass of a drill spindle, coupled with a rack and pinion positioning system, enables a smaller in position dimension window without making any sacrifice in accuracy.


  1. Typical copes and blocks can be milled. 
  2. Flange weld prep can be generated with our without a flange set back.  
  3. Rat holes can be produced without the need for any secondary operations.  The milling process cuts the rat hole up to the inner flange surface.  No need to manually remove the radius portion where the web intersects with the flange. 

  4. Large holes that exceed the maximum drilling capacity of the drill line can be efficiently milled.

  5. Counter sinking
  6. Counter boring
  7. Pocket milling
  8. Milling of slots
  9. Tapping

FICEP understands that the ability to constantly develop innovative solutions to reduce fabrication cost is the stimulus that grows the utilization of steel versus alternative materials.  This is the focus that encompasses the FICEP team to be driven to always be the first to develop innovative labor saving solutions like sub axis spindle positioning.