Cutting Tool Engineering
March 2010 / Volume 62 / Issue 3

On the cutting edge of measurement

By CTE Staff

Haimer Zero Master.tif
Courtesy of Haimer

The Haimer USA Zero Master enables machine tool operators to measure and identify X, Y and Z workpiece dimensions.

For Bryan Haslam, business success is all about making prudent decisions based on careful research and painstaking attention to detail—as befits a prototype tool maker.

Haslam began BH Tool in Salt Lake City as a part-time firm in 1997, and for the next 5 years methodically carved out his niche. “I do milling, but I specialize in wire EDM,” said Haslam, who uses a Swiss-made Agie with 3-D setup. “A lot of people do milling, turning and so on, but what separates me from the rest is wire EDM.”

His clientele gradually grew to include industries ranging from materials testing to medical and moldmaking. In 2002, BH Tool became a full-time concern when Haslam added a Deckel Maho DMU 50M universal milling machine, which, he said, provided added versatility with its 4th and 5th axes provided by the tilting and rotating worktable. With the acquisition of the Maho, Haslam began to search for an efficient edge-finding gage. “I knew I needed something better than the standard, simple edge finder,” he said.

His search led him to the Haimer USA booth at a trade show. “I do remember talking to [Haslam at the show],” said Brendt Holden, president of Haimer USA LLC, Villa Park, Ill. Their conversation centered on Haimer’s Zero Master 3-D edge-finding gage.

“[Haslam] was excited because I think he instantly knew how he could utilize the gage,” Holden said. “And that was neat to see, because a lot of people might look at the gages and not know exactly what they can do, but he instantly got it.”

What Haslam quickly understood was how the gage would improve his shop’s measuring accuracy. The analog Zero Master enables a machine tool operator to approach a workpiece from any of three directions (X, Y or Z) and identify and gage its three dimensions. Once it reaches zero, the gage is resting directly over the edge of the workpiece. No calculations are needed.

“One thing that makes it unique from basic edge-finding devices is its ability to measure in the Z-axis for setting depth, as well as the X and Y,” Haslam said. “Typically, the other methods for edge finding do not deal with the Z-axis.”

“With similar technology in the industry,” Holden added, “it’s up to the operator to actually take a measurement and then make a calculation. You have to calculate half the diameter of the measuring probe and then take that reading and apply it to your offset. In other words, there’s a lot of room for error with that option. With our technology, you just bring the dial gage to zero and you are truly measuring the position you need to be in.”

High-end pickup probes often are integrated with the controller, Haslam continued. “Then there’s something more straightforward like the Haimer for a normal CAT 40 shank. As a toolmaker, where everything changes constantly and nothing is really a repeat job, the cost (about $350) and straightforwardness of the Haimer fits the situation. Less expensive finders are slower and often knock themselves off center once they find the edge. They can also leave marks on the softer materials like aluminum.”

Haslam figures that, compared to conventional gage technology, the Zero Master’s quick measuring capability enables him to shave minutes off of every gaging procedure. “It’s a small amount of time, ultimately, but nonetheless it is an advantage. And [the gage] provides the accuracy I expect.” CTE

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