In spite of the difficult economy, some farsighted shops are investing in the technology that allows them to reduce their cycle times and consequently reduce their cost per piece. It’s part of not only shaving costs now, but getting ready for an improvement in orders—which they feel will come. Only the prepared will be positioned to meet the market when it comes back.
That’s the thinking of Ken Emerick of Ken Emerick Machine Products in Burton, OH, a firm specializing in precision machined parts in steel, brass, aluminum and other materials.
Emerick recently took delivery of a 65 mm bar capacity INDEX C200 mill-turn, an innovative, highly productive machine that is already paying dividends. The C200 permits Emerick to reduce cycle times on one of the parts its produces up to 90 per cent due to faster travels, three independent turrets, and two Y axes. The faster cycle times of the C200 will mean the company can replace several older machines with a single C200.
Not only that, before he bought the machine, he asked INDEX to prove its performance on one of his parts. He handed them a 2.5 in. dia. (63.5 mm) steel bar which required a 1.75 in. (44.45 mm) hole through and bores on each end plus grooves for retaining a bearing in each. That’s tough cutting on any machine. And it’s right up to the capacity of the C200.
The machine did the job handily.
Emerick adds, “with two Y axes, I can machine top and bottom (180° opposite) of a part simultaneously, saving cycle time. This can easily save us 50 per cent, with circular milling, slotting, porting, tapping, or off-set drilling, and other machining.
“INDEX showed me the C200 was more than capable of not only hogging out the material but holding the tight concentricity tolerances required,” he adds. “And they demonstrated that what used to take me 60 minutes of machining time could be done in 6 minutes. So I saw the machine could easily pay for itself.”
The C200 comes with 5000 rpm spindles and can run parts to 200 mm in length.
With three 14-position tool turrets, 160 mm chuck size, and identical, liquid-cooled main and counter spindles, the C200 is designed for fast, cost-competitive production of medium complexity parts turned from bar. Tools from the machine’s 42-tool complement—each of which can be driven—can be on the work simultaneously which helps Emerick produce some difficult parts not only in a single setup but with minimum cycle times.
Idle times on the C200 have been reduced greatly due to the design of the machine. Chip to chip times and indexing is faster. Turrets are lighter, and with less mass turrets can move 30 mpm for quick positioning. And the work envelope is designed to reduce travel.
Tools lock with only one screw and feature the INDEX W-serration in the base of the toolholder, an INDEX-specific improved VDI interface that ensures repetitive accuracies of +/- 8 microns up to 100 mm from the mounting surface. “The tool is held rigidly and does not move and makes setup faster because we do not have to align the holder anymore,” Ken said.
According to Emerick, the W-serration in the toolholders has increased tool life by 20-50 per cent, depending on the material he cuts.
Simultaneous machining with two Y axes, one at the main spindle and one shared between the main spindle and the counter spindle—each with 70 mm travel—gives Emerick the option to divide machining operations for optimum machining efficiency and flexibility. This freedom also is a key to reduced cycle times.
He points out that with such a capable counterspindle and three turrets, the simultaneous machining operations he can now program have cut machining tims significantly for every part he programs.
The two Y axes allow Emerick to work on both sides a part at one time, cutting cycle times. Off- center machining can also be done simultaneously. Three tools can be at work simultaneously—driven or fixed—including backworking. And the counterspindle with a driven Z axis can be synchronized with travel of turret three. Counterspindle pick-up from the main spindle is accomplished in just 1.5 seconds.
The turret slides move in the X and Z directions on the INDEX SingleSlide plate type slide system. This system permits rapids up to 60 m/min and accelerations up to 1 g with maximum rigidity. The plate-type guideway of the turret slides also means turrets glide directly on the machine bed, assuring high stiffness and dampening, resulting in longer tool life and better surface finish.
Emerick has been an INDEX customer since the mid-80’s and he has several INDEX GB automatic lathes. He likes the reliability of the machines, and with the new machine, he has nothing but praise for service staff. “They answer my call right away and work with me to sort out any issues. I can’t say the same for other companies. Besides that, the training I got at INDEX Corp. from Mike Doran was amazing, I learned in two days so much that I have decided to repeat this from time to time.”
Emerick has positioned his company for the inevitable upturn in orders from his customers in aerospace, mechanical fittings, and other precision parts consumers—anything but automotive and government work, he says. And with the C200, he’ll be ready.