Tooling Helps Company Slash Cycle Times

The analytical and processing equipment that is manufactured at this OEM's North American headquarters is used to produce everything from soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, drugs, condiments, cheese, inks, paper coatings and paint to petroleum products.

IKA Works (Wilmington, North Carolina) produces products that are used to mix, blend and disperse liquids and solids for the food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The analytical and processing equipment that is manufactured at this OEM’s North American headquarters is used to produce everything from soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, drugs, condiments, cheese, inks, paper coatings and paint to petroleum products.

Occasionally, IKA Works will contract out a part, which recently happened when the company encountered a part that was too large to manufacture in its own plant. This was IKA’s initial exposure to metalcutting products and solutions supplier Seco-Carboloy Inc..

“The sub-contractor was using Seco-Carboloy tools,” says IKA Works machine shop supervisor Bill Raber, “and I liked what I saw. The geometry and delicate nature of our parts was resulting in a lot of scrapped parts. We needed to eliminate that problem and bring more product in-house.”

IKA Works had purchased a Haas VF5 with dual indexers. It was purchased primarily to mill the slots on the rotors and stators used in the large diameter generators that are required on all the process mixers IKA manufactures. The generator has anywhere from six to 80 slots that are 0.5 to 1.5 inches deep, with varying widths.

The rotors and stators are made out of 316L stainless steel, and a series of slots are milled all the way around these parts. Some are slotted and some have face grooves, creating an interrupted cut situation. IKA was using 3 mm solid carbide disc mills, which were slow on feed and speed and costly to regrind. Carboloy went in with its 335.10-05.00-3 cutter mounted to an EPB disc milling arbor and a 150.10-3N-14 CP600 insert, a new grade for stainless and high-temp alloys.

“Prior to using Seco-Carboloy indexable slitter saws, we could only slot one part in 2 days on one of our larger size stators, because there were problems with the solid carbide blades,” says Mr. Raber. “One problem was these parts have a tendency to collapse, pinching the blade and, in most cases, breaking the blade. This caused downtime, because we had to replace the blade and dig fractured carbide out of the part. Also, due to wear, it was impossible to make it through one part with one blade.

“Since going with Seco-Carboloy’s cutter with the CP600 insert, and by changing the method of milling this particular part, we are able to run one during the day and one at night.”

CP600 is the toughest grade offered by Carboloy. The company says it provides optimal performance on stainless steels and superalloys. Featuring a tough substrate and a hard PVD (TiAlN) coating, CP600 is said to maintain a strong cutting edge and have low thermal conductivity under difficult machining conditions, such as deep grooving and parting off of small components.

“Initial test data was significant,” says Brad Rimmer, Carboloy technical specialist. “The solid carbide disc mill’s speed was 220 SFPM, with a feed rate of 20 mm/min. With the Seco-Carboloy indexable slitter saw, the RPM rate dropped, and the surface speed increased to 300 SFPM and an initial plunge at 127 mm/min. with linear feed of 254 mm/min.

“We also tested parts with interruption and no interruption. Our cycle time was 1.5 hours versus 6.5 hours using the old solid carbide disc mill. Another part took 9 hours; we produced it in 3.”

Seco-Carboloy cutters are made of high speed steel, and its insert pockets are wire EDMed, making it rigid. This allows side cuts or slots (a customer requirement) with an initial cut at full width of the cutter and a step up and down to acquire the actual dimensional width needed.

“We’ve improved anywhere from 40 to 75 percent in all aspects of manufacturing . . . from time per part, to parts a day to tooling life,” says Mr. Raber. “The quality is still the same, but we’re able to manufacture at a faster rate. In some cases, we’ve actually improved 100 percent and doubled part output. Because of the repetitiveness of tool life and the dependability of the Seco-Carboloy tool, we can run the machine unmanned at night. Before, we’d have to worry about tooling problems and the risk of having to scrap the part. Because of the Seco-Carboloy products, we’ve saved money [and] manpower, and [we’ve] increased productivity.”

Mr. Raber cites other savings. “The Haas VF5 we purchased has dual indexers. Due to the Seco-Carboloy tooling, we haven’t even had to put the second indexer on. We thought we’d have to run two indexers with 20 tools, and we’re actually running one with three tools. This was a great improvement and cost savings, since we didn’t have to buy as many arbors.”

Vice president and general manager of IKA Works USA, Bob Hardin, agrees with Mr. Raber’s assessment. “Before, we had parts that would run for two days before producing a good part, and someone had to stay at the machine,” he says. “The parts were getting bigger, and they were collapsing more.

“Being able to run parts faster means we have more capability, we open up our machines and we’re able to bring more product in-house.”

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