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Cutting carbide specials in days, designs in hours.

Rapid change in tooling up for jobs seems to be the order of the day for metalworking manufacturers. Everything is aimed at quick change, rapid prototyping and testing, and fast response. Carbide insert suppliers have risen to the challenge and are providing their own manufacturing solutions to dramatically cut the time needed to design and produce custom-designed special carbide inserts.

In the process, these "tailor made" inserts are setting a new standard for turnaround time on design and delivery, one that is likely to make everyone from job shops to automotive manufacturers who are testing out production lines better customers. Gone are the days of 1 to 2 weeks to quote and leadtimes of 3 to 12 weeks to deliver for custom specials that can be ground and finished from standard carbide blanks.

Sandvik Coromant, Fair Lawn, NJ, says that users will receive price quotes and blueprints in 24 hours for Sandvik Coromant's Q-Cut|TM~ inserts for grooving, parting, and profiling. Production quantities of the custom-designed special inserts will be delivered in two weeks.

Tailor Made inserts are designed by simply using either of two Q-Cut worksheets--one for grooving inserts, the other for part off inserts. The worksheets serve as templates for design on which parameters, such as shape, width, radii, chamfers, and grade, are selected.

Faxed to Sandvik, the worksheets create a profile for the insert. Quotes begin with minimum quantities of 20, making the program especially attractive to job shops. The Tailor Made concept has been so successful since it was introduced two years ago that it has been extended to Sandvik's double-ended, Top-Lok inserts for grooving and threading.

The company is integrating its manufacturing capability (in four countries: Sweden, Germany, Japan, and the US) and its rapid design and quote capability into its global manufacturing and marketing strategy. "One benefit is that custom insert designs created for a manufacturer in the US can be readily communicated through Sandvik's database and used by that manufacturer anywhere in the world," explains Kevin Mayer, product specialist for Q-Cut turning products.

Cellular manufacturing

Iscar Metals promises 24-hour design and quote turnaround for its tailor-made CUT-GRIP|TM~ inserts for grooving and cut-off applications. Delivery of special grooving/threading inserts is guaranteed in two to four weeks; delivery time for uncoated inserts is generally two weeks. Making Iscar's quick response to the market possible was management's decision to create a Fast Response Design and Manufacturing System (FRDMS) at the company's US headquarters in Mansfield, TX.

The strategy calls for setting up cellular manufacturing capability for carbide inserts and for steel toolholders. The carbide cell is up and running and producing CUT-GRIP inserts from print or concept, utilizing Iscar's proprietary software called QUOTE-GRIP|TM~. The software enables Iscar's engineers to generate a price quote and insert drawing working from 16 styles or types (families) of grooving inserts. A grinding program for its CNC grinders can be generated automatically from parameters of the insert.

The specials are ground using two CNC grinding machines from carbide insert blanks supplied from Israel. Lot sizes from 10 to 300 can be economically produced in this manner, says Andrew E Benson, manager of the manufacturing department, which consists of two cells, the grinding cell, and the engineering cell. Additional automated equipment will be added in the future.

The beauty of the carbide cell is its simplicity, says Mr Benson. Only one station is needed to perform the grinding. Inserts come in packages of 10 and are double-edged, requiring the grinding of 20 cutting edges to very high dimensional tolerances: |+ or -~0.0008" on length and width; |+ or -~0.002" on radii; and |+ or -~0-15 minutes on angles.

"Typically, 30% of grooving applications, such as threading, O-ring, and pulley rings, require specials," explains Mr Benson. "While much of the aerospace market requires special grooving tools, in terms of market size, most of Iscar's special grooving inserts sales come from the automotive/heavy equipment machinery sector."

Here's how Mr Benson explains Iscar's strategy:

"We have two classifications of special inserts: standard-specials (95% of our quotes and orders) that can be described by our grooving code; and special-specials--those that cannot be described by the code and usually require additional design and programming since we cannot use the code. Every insert configuration that we grind in the US is ground from a stocked blank, a wide range of which are available to cover all types of insert configurations and machining conditions (chip formers on the top-rake surface)."

Competitive advantage results from a combination push-pull marketing-manufacturing strategy: the push comes from manufacturing low-cost blanks to an MRP-type fixed schedule; the pull comes from grinding to add value on a made-to-order basis.

This is a classic example of an integrated marketing-manufacturing strategy, says Mr Benson. "We will only produce custom dies when anticipated product volume warrants the expense. This is an economic order quantity, so to speak, where pressing to a near-net shape is more efficient than grinding."

The carbide cell marks a return to manufacturing in the US for Iscar. Next step in its fast response strategy will be installing a manufacturing cell for steel toolholders in the spring. Toolholder blanks will be stocked and modified to custom configurations. Leadtimes are expected to be from two to four weeks.

Outsourcing, which plays a role in the carbide cell as inserts are sent out for coating, will also figure in the steel cell. Standard blanks for toolholder shafts will be outsourced while Iscar concentrates on providing value-added machining, including turning, if needed, and milling of relief work, pockets, and offsets.

Cellular manufacturing is the key to GTE Valenite's recently opened combination toolholder, manufacturing, and distribution facility in Gainesville,TX. As reported in the October 1992 issue of Tooling & Production, the cellular manufacturing plant has reduced delivery time significantly--down to a matter of a few weeks vs 8 to 10 weeks maximum in the past for its turning, milling, and boring tools.

Teams of engineers, managers, and operators working in some 15 cells have been able to reduce setup time by as much as 82% using quick changeover methods. The plant is linked with Valenite's engineering staff in Michigan through direct CAD communications.

Manufacturing flexibility is critical because Valenite's steel products encompass almost 13,000 individual part numbers that are produced in small lot sizes and in complex geometries that are very difficult to manufacture, the company says. At one milling and drilling station, for example, the original setup used an elaborate set of workpiece holders to carry the product. They have been replaced by a single carrier that takes the workpiece to all stations in the cells. Setup time was slashed from 485 minutes to 90 minutes. Overall, machine utilization has risen from 87% to 94% using the cell teams, says Valenite.
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Title Annotation:Iscar Metals Inc.; Sandvik Inc. Sandvik Coromant Co.
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Previous Article:Data collection and SPC.
Next Article:Low-hp milling machines get their own cutters.

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