Boosting capacity with one and done

Author Cutting Tool Engineering
Published
September 01,2012 - 11:15am

Related Glossary Terms

  • centers

    centers

    Cone-shaped pins that support a workpiece by one or two ends during machining. The centers fit into holes drilled in the workpiece ends. Centers that turn with the workpiece are called “live” centers; those that do not are called “dead” centers.

  • gang cutting ( milling)

    gang cutting ( milling)

    Machining with several cutters mounted on a single arbor, generally for simultaneous cutting.

  • inner diameter ( ID)

    inner diameter ( ID)

    Dimension that defines the inside diameter of a cavity or hole. See OD, outer diameter.

  • lathe

    lathe

    Turning machine capable of sawing, milling, grinding, gear-cutting, drilling, reaming, boring, threading, facing, chamfering, grooving, knurling, spinning, parting, necking, taper-cutting, and cam- and eccentric-cutting, as well as step- and straight-turning. Comes in a variety of forms, ranging from manual to semiautomatic to fully automatic, with major types being engine lathes, turning and contouring lathes, turret lathes and numerical-control lathes. The engine lathe consists of a headstock and spindle, tailstock, bed, carriage (complete with apron) and cross slides. Features include gear- (speed) and feed-selector levers, toolpost, compound rest, lead screw and reversing lead screw, threading dial and rapid-traverse lever. Special lathe types include through-the-spindle, camshaft and crankshaft, brake drum and rotor, spinning and gun-barrel machines. Toolroom and bench lathes are used for precision work; the former for tool-and-die work and similar tasks, the latter for small workpieces (instruments, watches), normally without a power feed. Models are typically designated according to their “swing,” or the largest-diameter workpiece that can be rotated; bed length, or the distance between centers; and horsepower generated. See turning machine.

  • machining center

    machining center

    CNC machine tool capable of drilling, reaming, tapping, milling and boring. Normally comes with an automatic toolchanger. See automatic toolchanger.

  • milling

    milling

    Machining operation in which metal or other material is removed by applying power to a rotating cutter. In vertical milling, the cutting tool is mounted vertically on the spindle. In horizontal milling, the cutting tool is mounted horizontally, either directly on the spindle or on an arbor. Horizontal milling is further broken down into conventional milling, where the cutter rotates opposite the direction of feed, or “up” into the workpiece; and climb milling, where the cutter rotates in the direction of feed, or “down” into the workpiece. Milling operations include plane or surface milling, endmilling, facemilling, angle milling, form milling and profiling.

  • milling machine ( mill)

    milling machine ( mill)

    Runs endmills and arbor-mounted milling cutters. Features include a head with a spindle that drives the cutters; a column, knee and table that provide motion in the three Cartesian axes; and a base that supports the components and houses the cutting-fluid pump and reservoir. The work is mounted on the table and fed into the rotating cutter or endmill to accomplish the milling steps; vertical milling machines also feed endmills into the work by means of a spindle-mounted quill. Models range from small manual machines to big bed-type and duplex mills. All take one of three basic forms: vertical, horizontal or convertible horizontal/vertical. Vertical machines may be knee-type (the table is mounted on a knee that can be elevated) or bed-type (the table is securely supported and only moves horizontally). In general, horizontal machines are bigger and more powerful, while vertical machines are lighter but more versatile and easier to set up and operate.

  • milling machine ( mill)2

    milling machine ( mill)

    Runs endmills and arbor-mounted milling cutters. Features include a head with a spindle that drives the cutters; a column, knee and table that provide motion in the three Cartesian axes; and a base that supports the components and houses the cutting-fluid pump and reservoir. The work is mounted on the table and fed into the rotating cutter or endmill to accomplish the milling steps; vertical milling machines also feed endmills into the work by means of a spindle-mounted quill. Models range from small manual machines to big bed-type and duplex mills. All take one of three basic forms: vertical, horizontal or convertible horizontal/vertical. Vertical machines may be knee-type (the table is mounted on a knee that can be elevated) or bed-type (the table is securely supported and only moves horizontally). In general, horizontal machines are bigger and more powerful, while vertical machines are lighter but more versatile and easier to set up and operate.

  • outer diameter ( OD)

    outer diameter ( OD)

    Dimension that defines the exterior diameter of a cylindrical or round part. See ID, inner diameter.

  • tolerance

    tolerance

    Minimum and maximum amount a workpiece dimension is allowed to vary from a set standard and still be acceptable.

  • turning

    turning

    Workpiece is held in a chuck, mounted on a face plate or secured between centers and rotated while a cutting tool, normally a single-point tool, is fed into it along its periphery or across its end or face. Takes the form of straight turning (cutting along the periphery of the workpiece); taper turning (creating a taper); step turning (turning different-size diameters on the same work); chamfering (beveling an edge or shoulder); facing (cutting on an end); turning threads (usually external but can be internal); roughing (high-volume metal removal); and finishing (final light cuts). Performed on lathes, turning centers, chucking machines, automatic screw machines and similar machines.

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END USER: PDQ Corp., (860) 529-9051, www.pdqcorp.com. CHALLENGE: Find a more efficient method for machining complex, tight-tolerance parts primarily for the aerospace industry. SOLUTION: Two 6-axis mill/turn machine tools. SOLUTION PROVIDER: Eurotech, (352) 799-5223, www.eurotechelite.com

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Sometimes end users quickly decide which machining equipment to purchase when a need arises, and sometimes the process takes a little—or a lot—longer. The latter applies to Ron Gronback Jr., owner of PDQ Corp., after he decided the company needed a new machine tool to fundamentally change the way it manufactures parts. To be confident in his decision, Gronback researched the market for about 5 years before investing in a 6-axis mill/turn machine from Eurotech, Brooksville, Fla.

“We operate in a close-tolerance, complex machining environment,” Gronback said, “and I felt the Eurotech machine would provide us with the repeatability, durability and horsepower required to excel in our markets.”

The Rocky Hill, Conn.-based company machines a variety of materials, including aluminum, stainless steel and titanium, and primarily serves the aerospace industry by producing parts such as specialized washers for engine controls, location pins and small parts for orifice assemblies.

Prior to purchasing the Eurotech Elite 735SLY in November 2010, PDQ was conventionally turning parts on a lathe and then transferring them to a 4-axis vertical machining center for drilling and milling. Moving parts from machine to machine was inefficient and created the possibility of tolerances stacking up with each fixturing, Gronback noted. “I looked at that and thought we have to do better,” he said. “We’re never going to survive if we continue to manufacture like this.”

After purchasing the Eurotech machine, which came with the optional servo bar feeder and produces parts up to 2¾ " in diameter, PDQ realized the machine’s rigid turret enables it to make heavy cuts and run at high speeds, according to PDQ Manufacturing Manager Mark Cote.

“As an example, we went from a 20- minute cycle time to 5½ minutes on one of our more complex, higher-volume parts,” Cote said. (The thin-walled aerospace part has a ±0.0003 " tolerance on the ID and OD.) “Cycle time improvements like that give us the payback on the Eurotech we were looking for. It also helps improve our on-time delivery to customers.”

Based on its success with the Elite 735SLY, PDQ purchased a larger Elite 835SLY machine in December 2011, also with a servo bar feeder, for machining parts up to 3 " in diameter. Gronback said he was “amazed” at the size of the market for parts in that size range. 

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Courtesy of Eurotech

A Eurotech Elite 735SLY 6-axis mill/turn machine manufactures an aerospace valve cap.

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Courtesy of Eurotech

PDQ’s Manufacturing Manager Mark Cote (left) and Owner Ron Gronback Jr. inspect parts machined on a Eurotech Elite 835SLY.

Regardless of part size, the machines’ multitask capabilities eliminate part refixturing. “We enjoy the ‘one and done’ method of parts coming off complete from the machines,” Gronback said.

The Eurotech machines also offer better milling capability than the other options researched, according to Cote. 

“The Eurotechs are multitask machines,” Gronback said. “Our other lathes are turning centers with live tooling, but these Eurotechs really can function as a milling machine, right up to six axes.”

However, not everyone in the shop was thrilled with that capability. Gronback said: “Once we had both of the machines up and running, the gentleman who handles my milling said, ‘I’m out of work.’ That’s because everything that used to come out of the lathes went into the 4-axis mill. All those parts went away from hitting that machine.”

That allowed PDQ to expand its milling capacity and take on additional prototype work, he added.

Overall, Gronback estimates that the Eurotech machines boosted productivity 30 percent while reducing setup time and labor cost.

In addition to its manufacturing equipment, Gronback credits the company’s 22 full-time associates with helping to make PDQ successful. “I have a great group of people with a great attitude,” he said. “We’re a yes-we-can company.”

The company also has seven machining partners as part of a subtier supply chain that can provide an additional 35 spindles on similar machines to help meet part-delivery requirements. “All materials are purchased from here, and all outside processes and inspection are handled from here,” Gronback said. “I’m not subcontracting—I control machine time at their facilities.”

As a sign of its success, PDQ is adding 10,000 sq. ft. of space this year to its main 5,000-sq.-ft. facility. (The company also has a prototype shop in Chester, Conn.) The additional space will provide room for more machines, classroom training facilities and a new quality lab.