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Vision readout has the right stuff.

Fast turnaround of custom valve components is all in a day's work at Irish Engineering Co Inc, Mobile, AL. The company is a supplier of mechanical fluid-handling equipment for paper mills, chemical plants, and electrical generating facilities. When one of Irish Engineering's customers has a problem, it can affect production in a very costly way. Downtime at an electrical generating plant, for example, can cost approximately $250,000 an hour.

When Irish Engineering added a Sharp vertical/horizontal milling machine to its stable, it also shopped for a readout system to further improve machining accuracy and speed. After considering standard digital readouts (DROs), the company chose a Millvision vision readout (VRO) manufactured by Acu-Rite Inc, Jamestown, NY.

Designed for use on mills, the MillVision VRO has more capabilities than a standard DRO at a comparable price, says Irish Engineering machine shop manager Joe Dunn. The unit can receive, store, manipulate, and display data, and displays information on a 7" CRT screen. It provides programmed presets and tool offsets and performs arithmetic calculations. The VRO also allows machine travel in six axes and display in up to four axes, and includes such features as automatic bolthole pattern calculation, midpoint location, and 250-step memory.

The VRO system consists of the readout, glass scales, and installation hardware. The glass scale linear encoders are available in resolutions from 10 [mu]m to 1 [mu]m and lengths from 2" to 120".

Mr Dunn says the bolthole pattern calculation feature is particularly convenient for Irish Engineering. "We drill a lot of very different bolt hole patterns to mount automatic positioners and actuators to valves, and in the past we couldn't be sure of part alignment until the part was completed. We scrapped a lot of parts, because alignment between an actuator and a valve is critical."

Now, the company creates bolthole patterns directly from angle and radius dimensions, eliminating calculation of X and Y coordinates. "We've cut our setup time by 50% and scrap by 20%," he says.

Other important capabilities of the MillVision VRO include the Z-axis for fast, accurate measurement of slot and keyway depths, automatic midpoint calculation with simultaneous absolute/incremental display, and a calculator mode that automatically determines mill spindle speed requirements. All these features have helped Irish Engineering improve machining accuracy and part quality, something Mr Dunn believes customers have appreciated.

"The quality of our product has improved as much as 40% through use of the readout system," he says. "Customers have noticed an improvement in the quality of our parts by comparing them to our competitors."

For information from Acu-Rite Inc, Jamestown, NY, circle 317.

Plasma system makes fine cuts

Robert LeDuc knows the value of hard work. He started his jobshop business in his spare time, working with a partner out of an abandoned chicken coop.

It's been a while since Mr LeDuc flew the coop. His company, R R LeDuc, now operates out of a 30,000 sq ft facility in Holyoke, MA. The 27-employee shop specializes in relatively short runs of complex parts, shearing, forming, punching, nibbling, rolling, and welding stainless steel, galvanized steel, aluminum, and copper alloy components. jobs include compressor panels, chassis and cabinet enclosures, and fabricated industrial ductwork.

Mr LeDuc credits his success to consistently reinvesting in the business. In metalworking, that means keeping up with ever-changing technology. In the mid-1980s, R R LeDuc was the first to invest in a new high-speed punching and contouring machine.

Mr LeDuc confirmed his commitment to keeping pace with technology in 1991, when R R LeDuc became one of the first US companies to purchase the Rasor fine plasma system from Komatsu-Cybermation Inc, Medford, MA. The system uses a proprietary plasma cutting head, an X-Y cutting table, and 32-bit CAM workstation to produce metal components with accuracy comparable to laser-cut parts at half the cost. "We were originally going to buy another punch and contour machine," says Mr LeDuc, "but when we heard about Rasor, we decided to look into it." After witnessing a Rasor demonstration, Mr LeDuc and six of his employees decided against purchasing another punch and contouring machine.

Over the past year, the Rasor system has been incorporated into the daily routine at R R LeDuc. Company personnel have a good feel for which jobs the system can perform. "We have two criteria for assessing which machine to use for a particular job: speed and accuracy," says Mr LeDuc. "The more complicated the contour of the part, the more valuable the Rasor is in fabricating it."

An example is machine guards, one of R R LeDuc's typical jobs. Using the Rasor CAM system, an operator can have a part laid out and cut in the time it takes to manually lay it out, says Mr LeDuc. Accuracy on the plasma-cut part is superior to a manually cut component, he adds.

In another case, the company bid on a job in 1991 that required large parts with radius cut-outs and contours that had to be nibbled to tolerance of [+ or -]0.01511. LeDuc lost the work to another vendor.

After bringing the Rasor system online, Mr LeDuc found the same parts could be produced three times faster and with higher accuracy. "We re-quoted the job and received a $200,000 order from the customer, with a lot more work to come," says Mr LeDuc.

For information from Komatsu-Cybermation, Medford, MA, circle 314.
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Title Annotation:Irish Engineering uses MillVision readout system
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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