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Boring machines: a hole lot of choices.

Boring machines represent a vital piece of equipment in most woodworking operations. Like many other woodworking machines, today's boring equipment has benefited from the addition of computers to ensure accuracy and reduce set-up time for greater productivity. The two dominant types of machines in today's boring equipment field are automatic multiple-spindle machines and CNC point-to-point machines. Although both types of machines perform accurate boring, each has characteristics that allow them to perform different types of jobs more efficiently than their counterpart.

Boring machines have also branched into a wide variety of features and capabilities. Before choosing which type of machine is best suited for its needs, a wood-working company should carefully examine exactly what types of parts are to be produced, the quantity of each part to be produced and question suppliers about operator training. By honing in on specific needs, a company can find the right type of machine designed for its specific needs.

What's the difference?

Offering excellent accuracy and productivity for making flush joints or boring for hardware, multiple-spindle machines usually identified with the European 32mm System generally cost less than point-to-point machines. "If you don't have the money to spend on a point-to-point system, the smaller multi-spindle machines are what you want," said Dave Kross, owner of Dave's Woodworks in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Because they can drill multiple vertical and horizontal holes in one operation, multiple spindle machines are ideal for companies producing long runs of single parts, like custom kitchen cabinet parts. "If an operation has to run a lot of parts with little diversity between them and doesn't need to keep resetting the fence for new parts, multiple-spindle boring machines may not be a bad alternative, depending on the quantity and variety of holes, as well as other operations" said Kevin Walsh, sales manager with Richard T. Byrnes Co. Inc.

Most multiple-spindle boring machines have between 20 and 50 spindles, but some have as many as 100. Although these machines can increase productivity, buyers must also make budget considerations for tooling costs because of the numerous spindles. "We're able to produce our cabinets in about half the time with a multi-spindle borer as it used to take," said Kross. "The initial tooling is expensive up front, but you wind up saving that in labor."

Since their introduction about a decade ago, computer programmable point-to-point boring machines have increased in popularity because of their reduction in set-up time, the ability to drill a hole anywhere on the board and the ability to bore and store a multitude of patterns. Unlike multiple-spindle machines that have stationary groups of boring spindles, most point-to-point machines utilize anywhere from nine to 24 individually mounted vertical boring bits, one to three horizontal boring bits, a routing head and a saw head. Although very versatile, these machines can carry a price tag of more than $150,000.

Widely used to produce furniture parts for the medical, institutional and traditional cabinet areas, point-to-point machines are ideal for companies that handle a wide variety of jobs. Producing contract CNC parts, Paladin Ind. Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., was attracted to point-to-point boring machines because the machines allow the quick set-up times needed when changing jobs for its different clients. "These machines have allowed us to do jobs we couldn't have taken on before," said Larry Bell, owner of Paladin.

Designed for quick turnaround of parts, point-to-point machines are popular because of their versatility. "PTP machines are not designed for an operation that is going to run part A Monday through Friday and part B Monday through Friday of the next week," said John Mauro, sales manager with Tekna Machinery Inc. "These machines are designed to manufacture a wide variety of parts in a short period of time. "

Just-in-time production lines can also benefit from point-to-point boring machines because of the quick turnaround. "Point-to-point boring machines reduce the amount of finished parts in stock and allow the production of parts after they have been purchased and ordered by the consumer," said Gianni Cavassa, president of Biesse America.

Learning about machines and measurements

Like any new piece of machinery, companies purchasing boring machines must also prepare to train employees. But just because a machine may be complex or possess computer controls doesn't mean the learning curve must shoot skyward. Training on some simple multiple-spindle machines can take 20 minutes and most computer programmed point-to-point boring equipment has become more user-friendly, so operators can be walked through programming with little or no computer training. "If employees have common sense and the ability to learn, the training won't take too long," Walsh said. Boring equipment distributors have taken great strides in providing customer assistance after the sale has been made. "Some distributors would just throw you a book and say, |Here, learn this,'" said Mauro. "But if a company is spending $150,000 on a point-to-point machine, they should be entitled to thorough training on the machine and its software." Whether the instruction is performed at the distributor's facility or in the customer's shop, Mauro added, "It makes sense to offer supervised training beforehand, rather than have a poorly-trained operator crash the machine two weeks after it is installed."

One of the few training operations shared by both machines is that most machines now require a working knowledge of metric measurements and the 32mm boring system. Not only is most of today's boring machinery manufactured in Europe, but an increasing number of foreign raw material and hardware suppliers are offering products in metric configurations.

"The thickness of our plywood panels from South America are measured in millimeter thicknesses, and if you measure them in fractions of an inch, you're going to be off in your horizontal boring," said Kross. "Because they operate in multiples of ten, metrics are more accurate and are easier to break down and work with."

Different points of view

The future of boring machines looks promising, with more high-tech equipment appearing on the market and the boring machine market being recognized as a continuous-growth market. Although distributors are confident that sales of boring machines will remain constant, many offered different opinions as to what the future holds for boring equipment.

Closing the price gap between manual machines and point-to-point machines are what some manufacturers believe will be the coming trend. "Filling the price gap between conventional, manual machines and point-to-point boring machines will be an interesting area to watch, because either the price of point-to-point will decrease or more advanced conventional machines will have to fill the gap," said Riccardo Azzoni, president of Atlantic Machinery. "And those advanced conventional machines are beginning to appear on the market."

Others believe a hybridization of multi-spindle machines and point-to-point boring machines will be developed. "We see the market in the future going toward feed-through boring production times coupled with the zero set-up times of point-to-point machines. These machines will not only perform multi-spindle drilling but also perform high speed routing and grooving," said Mauro.

Other machines that are making their appearance in the woodworking industry are machining centers, or working cells. These high-tech machines can perform drilling, routing, grooving, sanding and installation of hardware. "They can take rough cut panels and perform all operations except edgebanding," said Cavassa. "This will also result in a demand for more advanced software because the machine centers will be producing a higher level of computer integrated manufacturing."

With acceptance into the woodworking community, boring machines have proven that they can be a necessary piece of equipment if a woodworking company is striving for productivity and accuracy. In addition to cutting down the learning curve, boring machine distributors are offering products with a variety of capabilities and prices so woodworking companies can find a machine to fit its needs. Said George Force, president of Force Machinery, "A successful cabinetmaker wouldn't be able to build their cabinets without one."

Available equipment

The following is a review of some of the boring machinery available. For more information, circle the corresponding number on the Reader's Service Card. For further information regarding specifications and capabilities, consult the 1992 Red Book Buyer's Specification Guide.

The Individual Programmable Spindle Drill Bank from Thermwood Corp. allows users to mount bits of different sizes in each spindle. The drills are on 32mm centers and the tool comes in three-, nine-and 18-spindle versions. Circle #213

The TBC Trim, Bore or Chuck CNC boring machine from J.S. Richardson is a two-axis CNC machine with a single saw or boring and chucking unit mounted on precision ball slides and driven by precision ball screws. It has capacities of 24 in. on the X-axis and 6 in. on the Z-axis. The Z-axis capacity is sufficient for either chuck or geared head boring work and the boring motor has 1 1/2 in. of manual adjustment for stock thickness. The 12-in. by 28-in. table has a lateral T-slot for fixture locating and mounting and has two adjustable clamp posts with foot operated air clamps. Circle #214

The Nottmeyer Comet Super S-NC 101 boring machine from European Woodworking Machinery Co. is a dowel hole boring and inserting machine. All supports and boring units run fourfold on precision-ground guide rails. The company also adds that the machine can handle 25 to 30 workpieces per minute. Circle #215

The DBM-64 boring machine from Davis Wells Apex can perform horizontal boring and features foot pedal control of machine speed. The machine can accept bit shank sizes ranging from 1/4 in., 3/8 in. and 1/2 in. Circle #216

Olympic Machinery Co. Inc. offers a variety of point-to-point boring machines. These include machines that can perform both horizontal and vertical boring. Circle # 217

The 10-spindle Toyo SAT-2G multiplespindle boring machine from Pacific Western Machinery can perform vertical boring and can utilize the 32mm boring system. Circle #218

The Marcon Model M6000 46 spindle line boring machine distributed by REA Industries Inc. features two rows of 23 spindles (46 holes) on 32mm centers, two 2-hp three-phase motors, air hold-downs, 120-in. fence with stops and foot pedal operation. Circle #219

The Model R-46VH boring machine from Ritter Mfg. Inc. performs both horizontal and vertical boring and features 23 spindles. Able to perform boring operations for 32mm Systems, the machine can also perform mirror imaging. Circle #220

The Gannomat Model 280 boring machine available from Tritec Assoc. is reported to perform drilling, gluing and inserting six or more dowels in a few seconds, according to the company. The individual inserting units are switched and movable to 32mm centers along the 23-spindle boring head. Circle #221
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Increasing Productivity; innovations in boring machines
Author:Derning, Sean
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Sep 1, 1992
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