September 2011 / Volume 63 / Issue 9|
Savings through oscillation
By CTE Staff
As the demand for lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft has grown, so has the need for efficiently cutting the materials, such as nickel-base alloys, to make these advanced flying machines.
Senior Vice President Howard Lane recently established Houston Precision Process LLC to serve the aviation market, as well as the energy and forging industries, by specializing in sawing to weight various difficult-to-machine materials, including Inconel, titanium and stainless steel alloys.
These metals, which are primarily round stock, are often cut with an abrasive wheel, which is a relatively fast process but one that tends to create a heat-affected zone that requires additional machining operations. In addition, the grinding sludge that’s produced must be pumped and processed to separate the abrasive particles from the pricey metal particles for recycling.
Courtesy of Simonds International
Also, compared to cutting with a bandsaw, the kerf can be up to three times as wide, according to David Miles, vice president of sales and marketing for Simonds International Corp., a Fitchburg, Mass.-based manufacturer of circular saws and carbide-tipped and bimetal bandsaw blades. He noted, however, that traditional bandsaws are not capable of effectively cutting bars of aerospace-grade alloys.
Therefore, when considering its options, HPP, Houston, selected Simonds’ SineWave oscillating bandsaw technology with help from distributor Industrial Diamond Products Co. Inc., Houston. “We went with Simonds based on the cost and quality,” Lane said.
An oscillating bandsaw uses a unique rocking motion that forces each saw tooth to penetrate the workpiece, and the blade grows in width while cutting to create a self-feeding action that reduces cycle time, Miles explained. “Oscillating the blade keeps the cutting plane the smallest it can be at all times because the blade is cutting at a continuously changing angle,” he said. “You’re always keeping the area of engagement small, allowing you to cut faster without having to put excessive pressure on the blade.”
Miles noted that, compared to an abrasive wheel, an oscillating bandsaw does not create high-heat conditions, eliminating the trimming of heat-affected face pieces after the initial cut. The saw also allows chips to be immediately recycled and consumes less electricity than an abrasive wheel.
In a series of trial runs, the Simonds carbide-tipped Triple Chip blade with SineWave technology made five cuts for every one cut a nonoscillating, conventional bandsaw blade made, according to Miles. The Triple Chip blade is ground so the tooth tip is finely divided, he added. “It’s not just one little point dragging across the material; it’s actually three.”
With continued testing, the oscillating bandsaw achieved more than 100 cuts per blade on HPP’s most difficult-to-cut materials. “With Simonds’ products, training and support, we have effectively doubled our square inches cut per blade,” Lane said.
Based on HPP’s cost-savings analysis, SineWave technology saves nearly $1 million for every 50,000 pieces cut, which is its annual rate, compared to using an abrasive wheel. “With material recycling and kerf reduction, it’s easy to get to those kinds of numbers in an operation like theirs,” Miles said. CTE
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