MMS Blog

In 1987, Century Tool and Gage Co. (Fenton, Michigan) bought its first Heyligenstaedt vertical mill equipped with the first Fidia CNC system that was available in North America. Mickey Guckian, manufacturing manager of programming for Century Tool, was there. “I remember when we purchased the first Fidia control. It was installed on a two-spindle Heyligenstaedt vertical mill. I was running that machine at the time,” he says. “The new control had dual 8-inch floppy drives, which was unique back then, and it gave us the ability to greatly improve the feed rate for the complex milling routines we were running for the large compression molds we were manufacturing.”

Century Tool was founded in 1974 and has experienced consistent growth over most of its history. According to Vice President Kevin Cummings, this is due in part to expanding the manufacturing of composite compression molds to produce sheet molding compound (SMC), reaction injection molding (RIM) and urethane parts for various sectors of the transportation industry. The company specializes in compression-molded, exterior Class A, and reinforcement panels for truck and trim applications. It also makes 75 percent of the exterior body panel molds. “We have become a major builder of molds and secondary tooling for the automotive, heavy truck, aerospace and personal watercraft industries,” Mr. Cummings says. With that growth came the company’s move to a new, 125,000-square-foot facility that is capable of handling 60-ton machine block sizes that are as wide as 100 inches and as long as 300 inches. The plant is equipped with four, five-axis CNC machining centers; seven heavy-duty vertical and horizontal machines; three multi-spindle, traveling-column gundrills; 29 CAD/CAM workstations; and a try-out press facility with capacities of 500, 600, 1,500 and 3,000 tons.

By: Mike Lynch 5. March 2019

Checking Cutting Tool Offset Values

Cutting tools used in CNC machining applications must possess certain attributes in order to work properly. For instance, every cutting tool used in a vertical machining center (VMC) has a minimum and maximum length that is limited by the Z-axis stroke (among other things). As shown in the figure, the spindle nose will be at its maximum distance above the table top when it is at the positive end of the Z-axis stroke. At the minimum Z-axis position, the spindle nose will still be well above the table top.

The tool tip must be able to reach the smallest and largest Z coordinates in the program, otherwise, a Z-axis overtravel will occur. Each cutting tool’s length, which is specified in an offset register, determines whether these extremes can be reached without a Z-axis overtravel. Consider, for example, a very short cutting tool that is machining a thin workpiece held close to the table top. If the tool is too short, the Z axis will not be able to reach the program’s smallest Z-axis coordinate.

Whereas previous posts have discussed grinding machine construction, the abrasive process and various industries’ applications of grinding technology, this post looks at recent developments in grinding processes and machine designs. 

Closed- loop, in-process gaging is an option for measuring diameters and other features such as length during the machining cycle. For cylindrical grinding, electronic probes or gage heads may be mounted on the table, on slides or in the indexing turret to access the part being measured. In-process gaging of multiple diameters or dimensions can be accomplished using multiple gage heads or multiple slides, all using the same gage readout.

The striking and important characteristic of the Internet of Things (IoT) is the way free or low-cost applications and widely available knowledge will combine to put it to work. This makes the IoT far different from automation technologies manufacturers have adopted in the past.

The free or low-cost tools include, for example, If This Then That, Twilio and Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT—all cloud-based resources for programming automatic responses to events. With resources like these, an off-the-shelf sensor can be employed to trigger, say, an email being sent, a data point being recorded or a device being activated without any need to engineer or hardwire a system to connect the input to the response.

Here is a truth every job shop knows that many others seem to forget: Quoting isn’t free. Preparing quotes is costly because it consumes the attention of knowledgeable staff members who could otherwise be giving attention to paying jobs. Yet as shop owner Jeremy Hamilton says, “Responding to every RFQ is the standard machine shop habit.”

The president of Advance CNC Machining in Grove City, Ohio, Mr. Hamilton recently began to question this habit. He became concerned about the price his shop was paying to prepare quotes. Ultimately, he learned that one of the most effective things he could do to protect the productivity of his shop’s team was to teach his salespeople to filter and scrutinize certain requests for quote.

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