CNC upgrade boosts cutting tool maker’s grinding production

September 25, 2020 - 09:15am
CNC upgrade boosts cutting tool maker’s grinding production

The US cutting tool manufacturer McQuade Industries Inc. has implemented a CNC upgrade program for its roster of 5-axis insert grinders, and the upgrades shaved more than ten minutes per part off the production time of complex geometry cutting tools.
Flexium+ CNC system
Founded in 1978, the Clinton Township, Michigan, company specializes in precision indexable cutting tools. McQuade produces a range of cutting tools including boring bars, milling cutters, generating heads, draw bar style tooling and cartridges, as well as complete turnkey tooling packages. It also provides tool regrinding and repair services.

The machines are RS12 insert grinders originally manufactured by Ewag AG in Switzerland. McQuade installed a number of these precision grinders in 1988, and over the years they have provided stalwart performance, said McQuade’s production manager Donald Ostgen. However, after more than 30 years of operation, Ostgen said it today’s production requirements necessitated an upgrade. 

“Although still in good mechanical order, the grinders’ control systems were beginning to lack the flexibility we needed for some of today’s more complex tool geometries, leading to lengthy set-up and machining times,” said Ostgen.

Instead of replacing the machine, the company chose to upgrade its CNC controls. This allowed the company to continue to use the grinders, as well as the vast number of part programs that the company had developed over the years. The company therefore decided to preserve its investment by implementing a program to upgrade the machines’ CNC systems, and engaged the services of Advanced Machine Technologies LLC., a specialist CNC retrofit company in Owosso, Michigan.

The original RS12 insert grinders were fitted with NUM 760 CNC systems, NUM Guttinger NGS 610 servo drives, and NUM/SEM brushed servomotors. In this instance, the company recommended upgrading to NUM’s latest-generation Flexium+ 68 CNC system, and replacing the drives and motors on all five axes with NUMdrive X digital servo drives and new NUM brushless servomotors. 

By transitioning to NUM’s Flexium+ CNC platform, McQuade would secure full grind cycle flexibility while continuing to use a familiar HMI and machine setup operations. This upgrade path also provides full backwards compatibility with part programs that the company had made over the last thirty years. Furthermore, the embedded PC in Flexium+ represents a flexible IIoT platform that is Industry 4.0 ready, offering McQuade powerful connectivity advantages for future productivity enhancements and enabling NUM or AMT to provide remote support services if required. 

McQuade sanctioned the work, requesting that Advanced Machine Technologies initially upgraded a single machine so that its performance could be evaluated before progressing further. As part of the upgrade, in addition to the CNC system, drives and motors, the insert grinder was fitted with a new NUM FS-12 touch-sensitive operator’s panel, an MP08 machine panel, and an HBA series portable hand-wheel. The variable frequency drive for the existing grinding spindle motor was also replaced, using a smaller footprint NUM DriveX servo drive to fulfill the role. This approach has the advantage that all command, feedback and status information is now exchanged over a digital bus, which simplifies wiring and improves diagnostic capabilities.

The move to all-digital drives and motors has significantly increased the overall speed and performance of the machine, resulting in faster grind feed rates and improved surface finishing, said Ostgen. “The grinder is now much easier to program and a handheld pendant helps simplify operation. We are able to run parts on this machine that we could previously only run on our wire EDM machines, and its increased flexibility means that we are now saving over 10 minutes per part compared to the pre-retrofit model.” 

The first upgraded RS12 insert grinder is now in full operation on McQuade’s production line, and the company has already begun upgrading additional machines.

For more information on NUM Corp., phone its U.S. headquarters at 630-505-7722 or visit them online at 

Related Glossary Terms

  • boring


    Enlarging a hole that already has been drilled or cored. Generally, it is an operation of truing the previously drilled hole with a single-point, lathe-type tool. Boring is essentially internal turning, in that usually a single-point cutting tool forms the internal shape. Some tools are available with two cutting edges to balance cutting forces.

  • computer numerical control ( CNC)

    computer numerical control ( CNC)

    Microprocessor-based controller dedicated to a machine tool that permits the creation or modification of parts. Programmed numerical control activates the machine’s servos and spindle drives and controls the various machining operations. See DNC, direct numerical control; NC, numerical control.

  • electrical-discharge machining ( EDM)

    electrical-discharge machining ( EDM)

    Process that vaporizes conductive materials by controlled application of pulsed electrical current that flows between a workpiece and electrode (tool) in a dielectric fluid. Permits machining shapes to tight accuracies without the internal stresses conventional machining often generates. Useful in diemaking.

  • feed


    Rate of change of position of the tool as a whole, relative to the workpiece while cutting.

  • gang cutting ( milling)

    gang cutting ( milling)

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

  • grinding


    Machining operation in which material is removed from the workpiece by a powered abrasive wheel, stone, belt, paste, sheet, compound, slurry, etc. Takes various forms: surface grinding (creates flat and/or squared surfaces); cylindrical grinding (for external cylindrical and tapered shapes, fillets, undercuts, etc.); centerless grinding; chamfering; thread and form grinding; tool and cutter grinding; offhand grinding; lapping and polishing (grinding with extremely fine grits to create ultrasmooth surfaces); honing; and disc grinding.

  • 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.

  • wire EDM

    wire EDM

    Process similar to ram electrical-discharge machining except a small-diameter copper or brass wire is used as a traveling electrode. Usually used in conjunction with a CNC and only works when a part is to be cut completely through. A common analogy is wire electrical-discharge machining is like an ultraprecise, electrical, contour-sawing operation.


CTE magazine staff

News items authored by Cutting Tool Engineering have been written or edited by the editors of Cutting Tool Engineering magazine. The reports represent material submitted to CTE by outside authors, and edited by CTE editors for style and accuracy.


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