Since collaborating with Methods Machine Tools Inc. and implementing its Nakamura-Tome multitasking turning centers, Honor Med Maskiner Corp. (Elgin, IL) has run more efficient processes. With one of its turning centers, the company has been able to more than double component production by running lights out, even on the weekends, holding high tolerances in super hard material for a medical implant part.
Patricia Hirsch, president and CEO, says her company is committed to providing quality machine parts and customer service. “I see manufacturing as an art form, turning a concept on a piece of paper into a useful creation,” says Ms. Hirsch. Ms. Hirsch founded Honor Med in 2012, naming it “Females Running Machines” in Swedish.
Honor Med Maskiner specializes in complex profile machining as well as Swiss precision machining and manufactures parts for the medical, defense, hydraulic, aerospace and automotive industries. The company has 22 employees and had $5 million in sales last year, which the company plans to double this year. Its goal is to double sales each subsequent year, while sustaining productivity and profitability. To meet this growth, the company moved from an 8,600 square-foot space into a new 34,000 square-foot facility in February.
Recognizing the strong reputation that Methods Machine Tools multitasking turning centers have, Honor Med started out its turn-mill operations with a Nakamura WT-150. Methods’ Elgin Regional Technology Center provides turnkey installations and cellular automation for the line of Methods’ precision machine tools.
Imad Tsay, general manager at Methods’ Elgin Center, together with his application engineers and service group, have played a pivotal role from the start, according to Ms. Hirsch. “We made an excellent connection with Methods, and this has made a big difference. Starting out, it is very hard to find the support, including financial, engineering and service, from a machine tool supplier. Methods has always supported me, and I consider them my partner who I will continue to do business with as my company grows,” she says.
Since going into production, the multi-turret, multitasking WT-150 turning center has been running a repeat job for a medical implant component to hold 0.0005 tolerances in super hard material, with a 62 HRC. The machine has allowed Honor Med to more than double component production by running lights out, including weekends. Christopher Dao, director of engineering, says, “The WT-150 runs like a dream. Without concern, we can set up the job and leave for the weekend.”
Five-Axis Takes a Turn
When challenged with an increased order for a medical part in cobalt chrome molly, Honor Med Maskiner collaborated with application engineers at Methods Machine Tools to design a turnkey system. For this medical part, Honor Med wanted to eliminate a secondary drilling operation, which was required on the part’s intricate angles.
The collaboration with Methods resulted in Honor Med acquiring another Nakamura; this one a turnkey system featuring the Nakamura Super NTMX multitasking turn-mill machining center. The machine offers dual 24-tool ATC magazines, a unique design to simplify complex multitasking machining. Full five-axis milling capability provides high precision and accuracy for manufacturing complex, contoured components in large or small volume production, according to Methods.
“The NTMX gives us the ability to do contoured, off-center turning, holding tight 0.0005 tolerances required on the complex geometry features on this medical component,” Mr. Dao says. “We now run parts complete, saving us approximately 5 minutes on cycle time per part, which can result in 2 more hours per day to make more of these parts.”
Honor Med also reports that true position has been cut in half for a surface finish reduction of 64 Ra to 32 Ra. Now, the finishing process requires less work—instead of needing to tumble the parts, the company can go straight to polishing, and even the amount of polishing required has been reduced. Also, redundant tooling has extended tool life by about 50 percent.
Meeting Defense Requirements
Around the same time that Honor Med acquired the NTMX, the company encountered some challenges when manufacturing gun components. “We needed a different turning solution that would improve cycle time and meet our customer’s stringent requirements for surface finish and tight tolerances,” Mr. Dao says.
Honor Med again turned to its Methods’ Elgin team for yet another solution. With the Nakamura WT-100 as the centerpiece, the companies engineered a solution for accurate and repeatable production of this part, while adhering to strict government safety codes and defense industry standards. Working with alloy steel, Honor Med used the multitasking machine to manufacture a gun component in a single setup.
When manufacturing the gun barrel extension, tight production controls as well as in-process inspections ensure tight ± 0.0002-inch tolerances. Final measurement and inspection ensures that these parts are an exact match to the engineering drawings.
The defense client was so pleased with the results that Honor Med continues to manufacture this part at a rate of 300,000 units per year, and as a result, have collaborated on several other ongoing projects.
Ms. Hirsch says she is very pleased working with Methods and its customer service. “Being a woman in this field is sometimes difficult, but Methods has shown me the utmost respect,” she says. Although there are two other machine builders located in close proximity, she says her company has no plans to consult with anyone other than Methods for its turn-mill centers. “It is not just the features we receive with our Nakamura systems, it is the competent 24/7 service and support we receive,” she adds.
Ms. Hirsch says Honor Med Maskiner foresees continued success as it steadily grows sales in key markets, as well as diversifying in others to capture new business. The high quality operations already in place surely provide the foundation needed to turn this into reality.