Page 32 - MetalForming March 2011
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                   machines designed for tool, die and mold shops. BT&D started upgrading its tool- room four years ago by adding South- western Industries’ Trak FHM CNC knee mills, CNC lathes and ProtoTrak SMX conversational controls. “Conversational controls allow our operators to do most of the programming,” Walsman says—“no need for experienced G-Code operators.”
The shop now is home to three Trak knee mills—the latest a 7.5-hp (model FHM7) heavy-duty machine used to hog material for machining of die shoes and parallels. “We prepare all of our dies for quick changeover,” says Walsman, “so we run them all at the same shut height. That’s where the higher-hp mill really helps. And it’s also very productive when milling die shoes to accept scrap and parts chutes.” The FHM7 knee mill boasts a 60- by 21-in. table and a speed rating of 200 to 5000 RPM. Other knee mills in the toolroom are FHM5 models—5 hp, 31- by 23-in. table, speed to 4000 RPM.
Along with his new lineup of CNC machines—including two 10-hp 17-
in.-swing CNC lathes—Walsman also switched machining lubricants, in 2009. The new coolant of choice: a semi-synthetic coolant called Syn-Plus, provided by Solutions Plus Inc., Amelia, OH. Walsman credits the coolant not only with prolonging tool life—by as much as 20 percent—but also with allowing operators to increase machin- ing speeds and feeds in many cases.
“Also,” he adds, “in the past we had problems with bacteria and mold in our sumps. Now that problem has vir- tually been eliminated.”
Better Cutting Tools
Cutting tools also have received attention in Walsman’s toolroom, where new solid-carbide ball mills from Niag- ara Cutter, Inc., have been credited with significantly decreasing machining time and increasing milling-machine throughput. The toolroom has been using the new mills—3⁄8- to 1-in.-dia.—since October 2010 and operators find them more durable than other carbides
they’ve used. “Material finish is better,” adds Walsman, “and we’re experiencing major reductions in polishing time.
“For example,” he continues, “we machine a particular style of draw-die punch on a regular basis, from hard- ened D2 (60-62 Rc). We used to spend 18 hr. milling that punch, and then another 3 to 4 hr. polishing. With the Niagara mill, that same punch takes 12 hr. to machine, and 1 hr. for polishing.”
With all of these technology upgrades as well as tight control over die-detail inventory and production, Walsman finds that toolroom efficiency and pro- ductivity are climbing daily. “We’re able to set realistic goals for machining time for each task,” he says, “and goals for improving, and then carry on an open dialog with our machinists to recruit their efforts to help us achieve those goals. While performance (from the pressroom) is king here, in the tool- room we want to make sure we’re as efficient as possible while supporting our production crews.” MF
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