Belle City Metal Products (Racine, Wisconsin) found a way to keep its CNC turret punch presses running with minimum downtime. By making use of a little ingenuity and a Heinrich (Racine, Wisconsin) vise, the company reduced its tool-maintenance time by more than 75 percent, while reducing downtime by 50 percent.
The company produces a range of parts from stainless steel and aluminum sheets. The parts it produces are used to manufacture heat transfer products, electrical cabinets, darkroom equipment related to photography processing, machine guards and various types of brackets. These parts are produced on the company's CNC turret punch presses, where uptime is critical. Sharp punches and dies are needed to keep these expensive machines running. This is especially true when dealing with thin material, as well as in situations that are prone to slug pulling.
Rodney Lueke, president of Belle City Metal Products, attributes the versatility of the 6-SV Grip-Master vise with enabling him to develop an efficient tool sharpening system. According to Mr. Lueke, the vise's locking mechanism, cast iron construction and pass-through space between guide bars easily accommodate his unusual fixture design.
Because parts frequently require the CNC machine's maximum of 33 tools, the punches and dies need to be sharpened as quickly as possible to maintain high production levels. This is critical when punching holes in costly materials such as stainless steel sheets.
Mr. Lueke wanted an affordable way to sharpen his tools rather than purchasing automatic equipment. After a few trials, he constructed one fixture with the capability to accommodate punches and dies across a range of sizes. He accomplished this by using only the equipment readily available in the shop: a Heinrich 6-SV vise and a manual surface grinder.
The vise arrangement allows sharpening of the punch assembly without having to take it apart. This saves time because a punch assembly has multiple pieces that need to be carefully reassembled.
Another feature of Mr. Lueke's fixturing is that the tops of the punch and die are about the same height when held in the vise. This results in fewer hand turns for the height adjustment of the grinding wheel.
Mr. Lueke went on to say that his investment resulted in a tool sharpening system that is significantly less expensive than automatic equipment and "faster by about 1 to 2 minutes for each tool."