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Profiles in moulder productivity.

Today's moulders can manufacture high tolerance woodwork and increase productivity provided customers follow some basic guidelines.

When it comes to purchasing a new moulder for a woodworking facility, a good piece of advice is to keep in mind exactly what jobs the machine will be required to perform. With many bells and whistles available, it can be easy for a moulder buyer to become mesmerized by options that might dazzle him in a demonstration, but might be of little or no value in his application.

There are a wide variety of configurations and option features available to moulder customers, including computerized control-moulders, the availability of stack tooling and computerized template manufacturing.

To go CNC or not to go CNC

Companies interested in a new moulder purchase must decide if they want to go with a non-CNC or CNC controlled moulder. There are subtle differences between the two and depending on the application, each offers benefits and drawbacks, according to moulder suppliers contacted for this article.

Benefits of non-CNC moulders include affordability, less complicated design and lower training requirements than CNC equipped moulders.

"We find that most of our non-CNC customers are people with older machines that have worn out, first-time moulder buyers, and companies interested in adding moulders to produce value-added mouldings," said Stan Paszkowski, product manager for moulders with SCMI. "The value-added moulding customers may have several high feed speed moulders running one or two profiles per machine, yet these customers will add an additional non-CNC moulder to perform lucrative value-added services to mouldings produced by the high speed machines."

Affordability is a top benefit with non-CNC machines for the obvious reason that they lack computerization.

"Although microprocessor prices have declined in recent years, if the microprocessor goes down on the machine, you have to wait for a technician to come in and you may have to make an expensive and time-consuming repair," said Paszkowski. "With basic maintenance training, a non-CNC moulder operator can call in for a part and often have it delivered in 24 hours."

The lack of computerization also affects the amount of time required to train operators.

"Without a computer, there is less to learn," said Paszkowski. "Routine maintenance and set-up -- that's about all there is to learn."

CNC moulders

CNC moulders, on the other hand, also feature three major benefits that separate them from non-CNC moulders, including faster set-up times, greater accuracy and the ability for trained operators to call up past programs for accurate runs with minimum set-up times.

CNC moulders offer much faster set-up times because the spindles adjust automatically to their next position as programmed in the computer's memory, and how the tooling affects the moulder set-up time.

"In a set-up situation, the machines pretty much do everything for themselves," said Bob Meadows, of Tekmatex Inc. "There are two basic types of CNC moulders: those which have the heads moving into place one at a time and those which have all the heads moving together simultaneously. In both cases, operators don't have to touch the spindles."

Greater accuracy is possible with CNC moulders not only because of the computer control of the machine's heads, but because other set-up mechanisms are controlled by the computer's programming center.

"The CNC moulders eliminate the trial and error of set-up adjustment because the moulder can repeat proven settings precisely," said Jon Morris, marketing manager with Michael Weinig Inc. "This a major benefit when a compromised setting has to be made to overcome a tool problem, which unfortunately happens quite often. In addition, test pieces are often not needed."

"As long as cutting tools are properly ground, CNC moulders can meet today's high tolerance production because they also control feed speeds, tensioning and pressure put on pressure shoes and bed plates," said Meadows. "Production runs can also be controlled so you won't make too much or too little of a required profile."

The addition of a new CNC moulder will require adjustments not only in training, but in planning for maximum production efficiency after installation. Training to run a CNC machine, according to Morris, is generally the same as for manually-set moulders, with a few additions.

"We like to see CNC moulder operators and tool room supervisors before moulder installation to help them plan the best organization," said Morris. "This only requires a couple of days, but correct organization and support around the moulder can save weeks or even months in the eventual learning curve."

A good relationship between a CNC moulder, its operators and tool room staff and equipment is critical to allow the moulder to produce the best mouldings possible.

"The key player with a CNC moulder is the tool room," Meadows added. "If you have good tool room technicians and equipment, a properly operated moulder will offer consistent, high production runs."

Stacked tooling catches on

One recent development that has helped moulder manufacturers reduce downtime is the use of stacked tooling.

"Stacked tooling has been used on shapers and tenoners, but has only been recently used on moulders," said Thom Labrie, president of Auburn Machinery. "It uses very simple technology where a new profile and cutterhead can be lowered into place. They help make short run jobs with a small number of profiles more profitable."

The concept behind stacked tooling allows vertical travel on the moulder's side spindles so that several profile cutter-heads can be stacked up simultaneously. To change jobs, the side spindles only have to be adjusted vertically. If the moulder technician keeps an accurate set-up log, he can refer to the proper setting on the scale or digital readout per each different job and move the cutter into its proper position.

Stacked tooling requires a common cutting diameter to align correctly with fences and tables. In order to obtain this constant diameter, insert tooling is required, said Morris, adding that interested customers should beware of the substantial initial capital outlay required when using insert tooling.

Although stacked tooling systems cannot be retrofitted on older moulders, many moulder manufacturers are now offering the systems on their machines.

"Some woodworkers, such as window and door manufacturers, can benefit from stacked tooling systems," said Howard Pruitt, president of Pruitt Machinery. "If the manufacturer is operating six different profiles ninety percent of the time, stacked tooling can help minimize down-time because the heads don't have to be pulled of the machine with a stacked tooling system."

But stacked tooling is not for every moulder user and companies interested in purchasing new moulding equipment should carefully examine the machine's application. "If you're a manufacturer of picture frames and have 200 to 300 different profiles, stack tooling isn't a good idea," said Paszkowski. "Stack tooling is for a market that deals with a limited number of mouldings, not multiple change, short run applications."

In-house or out-of-house templates One rule of thumb that moulder manufacturers agreed on was that if a template is out of tolerance, the result will affect the tolerance of the finished product.

"lt's like removing a table saw blade from a table saw and replacing it with saw blade that is 0.010 inch thinner than the one that was replaced," said Clinton L. Young, president of Precision Template and Shoe Inc. "Your measurements between the fence and blade will cause recalibration of the scale. The key to making accurate mouldings is an accurate template. If the template isn't accurate, the knife won't be either. The result is a moulding that will also be out of tolerance."

"While visiting moulding operations at various woodworking facilities, I often found that someone would draw a profile on a piece of paper and would give the dimensions to the tool room and moulder operators," said Young. "Then I would see the tool room technicians hand file the template. But trying to hold a 0.002- to 0.005-inch tolerance by hand filing made achieving consistent total accuracy very difficult."

One option for woodworking operations to meet the higher tolerance demands of producing precision templates for more precise knives and mouldings is to use tooling services that offer templates produced with computer design.

Templates cut with computer assistance are manufactured using a computer to aid in design and after the template has been designed, the computer works with an electrical discharge machine (EDM) to cut the template. An EDM operates similar to an arc welder to cut the template by using an electrically charged 0.010 in. brass wire to cut through the hardened template stock. Extremely high tolerances can be achieved, which is difficult for hand filing to match.

A determining factor when choosing to purchase out-of-house templates versus making them in-house is often based on production rates.

"It depends on how fast a template is needed," said Young. "An in-house hand filed template design and production worker can usually manufacture a template varying in minutes to hours, but there is the risk of being out of tolerance. In some cases, high tolerance out-of-house template production can usually return a template in 24 hours to four or five days. This may seem like a long time, but woodworkers should take into consideration factors such as if the required lumber for that particular job is in stock and how the tooling affects the moulder set-up time. Ordering the lumber will also take time," he said.

Available moulders

The following is some of the moulding equipment available to the woodworking industry. For more information, circle the corresponding numbers on the Reader's Service Card or consult the Red Book Buyer's Specification Guide.

The Superset 23 moulder from SCMI is reported to automatically set essential working parameters such as finished size, feed rollers, presser shoes and fences. The non-CNC set-up machine features a gear driven, multi-roller feed system and can handle profile tooling diameters up to 200mm.

The SP5 four-sided planer moulder with pre-straightening head from MIDA-USA Inc. features no required lubrication, feed speeds from 26 to 183 fpm, quick planer head removal and a synchronized feeding system that maintains a uniform amount of knife cuts per inch and uniform smoothness of the planed surface.

Iida Koygo moulders available from Pruitt Machinery range from a four head S4S machine to a twelve head profiling machine. Widths are available from 4 to 15 in. Set-up on any machine can be manual, digital or several levels of computerization.

The 600 series Pinheiro planer/moulder from Auburn Machinery Inc. offers new workstation modules and options. A pre-straightening module is reported to eliminate the need for a straight line rip saw in many operations. The machine is also available with a module that can handle top and bottom pre-planing functions.

The Griggio G 18/5 automatic straightening moulder from Atlantic Machinery Corp. features four heads plus an optional fifth head. Each head has a magnetic starter with overhead protector. Standard features include 6 hp on first and second spindle, 9 hp on third and fourth spindle, automatic feeding of rollers and upper and lower outfeed rollers.

The Martin four sided planer from Eric Riebling Co. Inc. is equipped with electronic controller for pre-setting dimensions of workpiece with storage for up to 100 workpiece dimensions. Maximum planning width is 260mm and height is 160mm. Other features include optional moulding unit, variable feed speeds of 13 to 82 fpm, and pneumatic hold-down feed rollers.

The Unimat 23 moulder from Weinig has been designed for fast production of small and medium batches. Features include larger cutting circles, special splitting spindles, advanced spindle configurations for maximum speed and quality, hardened tables and safety options.

Coupling its computer positioning system with the 400 Series Accumould, Diehl Machines says the system allows the operator to store patterns on-board the IBM compatible computer and make spindle movements from the control panel. Standard features include hydraulic axial looks, management data systems and the capability to override the computer system for manual operations.

The Kuwahara seven spindle CNC moulder from Tekmatex Inc. is reported to be able to set all heads to their exact positions simultaneously. In addition, the moulder can memorize up to 120 patterns that are controlled by a computer with 10 modules that can be removed for service. Accuracy of position is reported to be 0.01mm.

The 276 R series moulder from Mattison Woodworking Machinery Co. features variable hydraulic roll feed, individual variable spindle feeds, electronic solid state spindle controls and digital readouts.

The new Super XJ/S 220 moulder from Wadkin is reported to offer feed speeds of up to 120 meters per minute, resulting in fast throughput and quality finishing, the company says.

Templates, knife blanks and conformed hold-down pressure shoes from Precision Pattern Template and Shoe Inc. are designed with a CAD system. The axial constants in the template designs reportedly reduce set-up time, even on manual moulders. The pressure shoes are designed to replace flat pressure shoes or bed plates which allow a cradling effect to the moulding.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Derning, Sean
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Feb 1, 1994
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