Starro Precision Products, Inc. (Elgin, Illinois) specializes in Swiss screw machining. The company produces a broad spectrum of high-tech parts for the aerospace, agricultural, automotive, medical, defense, energy and commercial markets. Although the company employs several state-of-the-art CNC workstations that can produce precise tolerances to 0.0001, the company also realizes that not every job in the shop requires that level of precision or sophistication.
"We are in an extremely competitive market where we are competing for business not just with domestic competitors but competitors from all over the world," says Lee Dwyer, director of total quality management at Starro. "Many times we are producing a part that sells for 20 cents. With low cost parts, a swing of a penny one way or another can be a big difference. Customers will shop the world to save a penny or two on parts like these. For that reason, we are constantly looking for ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality."
The company decided it did not make sense to do a job that can be done on an inexpensive mill on an expensive CNC machine. "I'm the first to admit that a CNC machine is much more flexible, but the fact is that the price difference is a quantum leap," says Mr. Dwyer.
The company found that Barker mills, from Barker Milling Machines (Akron, Ohio), were job-specific machines for what it needed. "We are hard pressed to beat them when it comes to speed, accuracy and the low cost. We use our Barkers for straddle milling, slotting and profiling, just to name some of the secondary operations." Mr. Dwyer says.
The company found that it saved more money using a Barker mill and an operator than using an underutilized CNC running by itself.
One of the reasons the people at Starro Precision discovered the Barker milling machines was because there simply are not a lot of horizontal "production type" mills in the market. The machine can be used for milling, profiling, drilling, key seating, end milling, straddle milling, slotting, turning, facing, counterboring, recessing and more.
The Barker line is actually divided into two types of machines. The AM Series features a two horsepower spindle motor and a 6 ¼ inch by 20 inch table. Standard features include class 3 spindle bearings; hand lever feeds to head, saddle and table motions; a heavy duty, totally enclosed fan-cooled motor with dual voltage; a belt guard and a machine light. The AM III is the newest Barker AM model and includes PLC-controlled selectable cycles with optional air feed to all three motors.
The PM Series features a 1/3 horsepower spindle motor and a 4 inch by 12 inch table. This smaller version of the AM features rigid reinforced construction with extra-wide dovetail slides and adjustable gibs, delivering accuracy and long life. Although the PM has been designed for lighter duty work, its standard features are identical to the AM.