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Mill speeds die production.

Mill speeds die production Making progressive dies is a very precise, time-consuming process. Hittle Machine & Tool Co, Indianapolis, IN, is a 26-person shop making stamping dies for the automotive and appliance industries. A typical progressive die with 15 stations and about 250 details, and tolerances of tenths of a thousandth may take several months to build and require using every machine tool in their shop. This includes mills, grinders, jig bores, drill-and-tap machines, and lathes. All are manual, except two CNC mills from Tree Machine Tool Co. Their latest purchase, a Journeyman 325 with DynaPath CNC, was acquired in 1986 for a specific die program--a book-size auto air conditioner with a lot of repetitive work. Flanged on each end, it has a series of 100 identical water-drop-like beads in an inline or angle pattern. The new mill offered faster machining of these complex contours, and the result was a tripling of throughput while maintaining the same tight tolerances.

According to Bob Reimer, Hittle president, what makes this easy is the CNC's mirror-image canned cycle. "A programmer simply draws a quarter of one bead on our Autocad CAD/CAM, then uses the mirror image to produce the other side. Then, we use one side of the X axis and one side of the Y axis to get a complete bead that we can designate in 99 other locations."

Another program, the cavity mill, allows programming complex shapes such as half cylinders, toroids, hemispheres, and tapered cavities by simply entering the starting radius, ending radius, length of cut, and linear increment. Also useful is bolthole-circle patterning for either full circles or segments that eliminates calculating and inputting each hole.

Adds Reimer, "Menu-driven conversational programming makes it easier for new programmers to learn. We have two main programmers and four apprentices. The apprentice is stepped through the program, selecting the operation from a menu and detailing the necessary information. The control doesn't proceed until each step is complete. The CNC graphically displays tool paths and shows mistakes before they happen on the mill, warning you when you've programmed the impossible or exceeded the capabilities of the machine."

Once a die is completed, it's tried out on Hittle's in-house Verson Press to assure that the customer will receive a quality die. "We take pride in the fact that the dies we made 15 years ago are still in operation," says Gary Shank, tool engineer.
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Title Annotation:CAD-CAM system
Publication:Tooling & Production
Article Type:product announcement
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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