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Grinder improves tap manufacturer's bottom line: a Canadian tool manufacturer sees 35 percent productivity improvement with thread grinder.

Improved profit can sometimes depend on scrapping old methods and machinery. Taylor Tool, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, a shop of 30 employees, needed to improve grinding speed and reduce setup time. It found new grinders were the answer.


The family-owned firm makes special and standard taps, dies, and reamers. Its aging thread grinders weren't letting it keep up with customer demands and competition. It needed accurate machines that were easy to set up, handled a variety of jobs, and improved productivity.

Rebuilding its existing thread grinders was an option, but one that was abandoned. Instead, the company chose a GS:TE-LM 150 from Drake Manufacturing.

Faster and More Profitable Work

A deciding factor in the purchase was the 180[degrees] Power Helix. This option lets one machine grind lead or helix angle on taps--right or left hand, straight, or tapered. The feature provides faster setup times and more accurate dress cycles. Other benefits are grinding grooves, slots, and splines parallel to the workpiece axis.

"With the new thread grinders on our shop floor, all special angle and radius work became faster and more profitable," Todd Hinde, general manager, said. "From full-form special Whitworth rope threads to special Acme and Trapezoidal taps, these machines make it easier than ever before."

Taylor Tool manufactures special and standard right- and left-hand taps, round and hexagon-rethreading dies in American, full form British Whitworth, metric, pipe, locknut, and Acme thread forms.

Since installation, productivity has improved about 35 percent per piece Hinde said. Job setups and changeovers are quicker on the Drake grinders compared to the old machines.

The wheel balancing system on the GS:TE-LM 150 has been a boon.

"Balancing the grinding wheels has been cut by 75 percent," Hinde said. "This enables operators to produce more parts and increase our company's bottom line."

Tackling Worms

Taylor Tool is a repeat Drake customer: this is the second grinder the firm has purchased from the manufacturer headquartered in Warren, OH. Its first Drake was a model with a standard Z-axis 300 mm grinding length. The grinder just purchased has a 400 mm grinding length.


Both machines have X-axis wheel feeds--maximum part diameters--of 150 mm.

Linear motors and ways of the new grinder permit fast acceleration, slide positioning, and contouring. Both grinders eliminate backlash and wind-up inherent in ballscrew assemblies. Linear motors resist grinding swarf, which affect the ballscrews' accuracy.

The GS:TE-LM grinder tackles taps, multi-start worms, fast lead ballscrews, feed and bone screws, gear boxes, speed reducers, transmissions, and electronic steering components.

Menu-Driven Choices

The PartSmart[TM] programming feature has helped Taylor Tools speed production, too. Each setup step is input through the grinder's menu-driven programs. Once workpiece parameters are entered, factors such as dressing forms, grind paths, spindle and work rpm are all pre-calculated and stored in memory.

"All we do is enter the workpiece information at the menu prompts, such as number of thread starts, thread hand, thread length, blank O.D. taper, etc., and the program does the rest," Hinde said. "In the past, multi-lead taps were time-consuming and problematic. Now it's as easy as entering a multi-lead value on the PartSmart software menu."

Hinde said simple job changeovers take about five minutes, while complicated ones, such as an Acme tap, take a little longer.

Lack of Alligators

"It's hard to drain the swamp when you're hip-deep in alligators," according to the old adage. By making grinding setup and performance easier, Taylor Tools has rid itself of some "alligators" and attacked swamp draining. For the job shop that means having more time to perform research and development into special taps.

Hinde said this includes design and manufacture of special hex drive cleanout taps for the automotive industry and special full radius transition taps for refurbishing nuclear reactors.

The Drake grinders also help in meeting customers' critical needs.

"We've had some of our distributors require immediate delivery for special taps to keep assembly lines running," Hinde said. "With a full line of hardened tap blanks on our shelves, we can respond quickly and have taps ready to pick up within two hours. It saves our distributors' customers thousands of dollars in down time. This level of service helps solidify our reputation for producing quality cutting tools fast." Drake Manufacturing or Circle 201 for more information

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Publication:Modern Applications News
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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