Tru-Cut Manufacturing’s foray into near-dry cutting began approximately 5 years ago. At that time, the masonry drill bit producer based in Cary, Illinois implemented the Accu-Lube line of lubricants and equipment from ITW Rocol (Glenview, Illinois) to achieve safer, more profitable metalworking operations.
Established in 1971, Tru-Cut employs a staff of roughly 80 and generates yearly revenues of $8 million. The company offers drill bits under two main brand names: Galaxy and New England Carbide. All of Tru-Cut’s carbide drill bits meet ANSI specifications B-94-1977. The high speed steel models meet the federal GGG-D-75ic and N.A.S. specifications. With a focus on meeting the needs of the construction and hardware markets in the United States, Canada and Mexico, the company targets contractors, supply houses and hardware stores.
Kenneth Lebar, president of Tru-Cut, explains that although the near-dry process was working fine, the engineers wanted to work with larger diameters, a feat that would prove difficult without using oil in the machine. Compounding this issue was increasing pressure from the growing number of overseas competitors cropping up. To remain viable, the company felt compelled, as other American manufacturers have, to find creative ways to continually improve quality and engineering.
Accu-Lube offers a line of natural-based lubricants, along with custom-developed micro-lubrication systems for near-dry machining. The product eliminates flood coolant to promote safe, more profitable operations. As a result, the production process becomes more efficient, says the company.
“We needed to have a cleaning station so as not to contaminate the parts for the following processes,” explains Mr. Lebar. “The life of the tool was quite limited, and a lot of oils had to be used.”
At that time, a two-nozzle Accu-Lube applicator was installed on one machine for a period of a few weeks. The company also tried the nozzle on two other machines. As a result of the implementation, operators reported measurable benefits—an 80 percent increase in tooling life and less risk of contamination. In addition, noise was noticeably reduced by about 50 percent with the large-diameter machines. What did the trick was Accu-Lube PowerStamp II, a light viscosity lubricant that, according to the manufacturer, “won’t gum up on parts and equipment.” With a non-chlorinated EP Package, it is water washable. The lubricant also has a high flash point of 400° F.
Tru-Cut began testing the Accu-Lube system by moving the applicator from one application to the next. Today, the company incorporates the system on three machines, using Accu-Lube primarily for high speed tooling and carbide tooling applications. The Accu-Lube system is currently being tested on the company’s Swiss turning machines. Potentially, a total of seven machines could be equipped.
According to the company, productivity has increased by at least 50 percent. Tru-Cut also reports that it can now produce at least two or three pieces in the amount of time that was once required to make one piece using coolants.
“Previously, operators were spending a good deal of time trying to save oil—recuperate it to limit waste,” says Mr. Lebar. “Personnel often had to halt the operation to clean the machine. The chips were full of oil; it was a messy process.”
Accu-Lube applicators carry Accu-Lube fluid to the cutting edge, which can prevent heat buildup while optimizing performance, says the manufacturer. The new system is said to require less lubricant than is usually the case with coolants. Tru-Cut has also found that the type of tools able to be used enables significant savings. Mr. Lebar is particularly impressed with the results related to coated carbide. Non-coated cutters, which are typically cheaper than coated ones, can now be used.
Because this line of lubricants is non-toxic and environmentally safe, the products can be applied to a variety of materials without fear of contamination and discoloration. Mr. Lebar explains that virtually no housekeeping is needed on the machines that use Accu-Lube. In addition, worker safety has been maximized. Formerly, spilled coolant posed a potential hazard to the workers.
“Some operators were skeptical at first about Accu-Lube,” says Mr. Lebar. “They wanted to see the oil, and they were afraid that the tool was not lubricating. However, they all seem to like the idea of easier housekeeping and not having to change the tool as often.”