Thirty-two-year-old insert grinders given new lease of life—and production times now reduced by 10 minutes per part. Article by NUM.
US cutting tool manufacturer McQuade Industries Inc. has gained a highly cost-effective productivity advantage by implementing a CNC upgrade programme for a line of 5-axis insert grinders. The upgraded machines are much easier to set up and operate, which has enabled the company to shave more than ten minutes per part off the production time of complex geometry cutting tools.
Founded in 1978, McQuade Industries has built an enviable reputation in the metal cutting industry for the very high quality of its precision indexable cutting tools. Based in Clinton Township, Michigan, the company produces a diverse range of cutting tools, including boring bars, milling cutters, generating heads, draw bar style tooling and cartridges, as well as complete turnkey tooling packages. It also provides customers with fast turnaround tool regrinding and repair services, backed by extensive expertise in special carbide and precision form inserts.
The machines that are being upgraded are RS12 insert grinders, originally manufactured by Ewag AG in Switzerland. McQuade installed a number of these highly regarded precision grinders back in 1988, and over the years they have provided stalwart performance. However, as McQuade’s Production Manager, Donald Ostgen, explains, “After 30-plus years, even the best machines can begin to show signs of their age! Although still in good mechanical order, the grinders’ control systems were beginning to lack the flexibility we needed for some of today’s more complex tool geometries, leading to lengthy set-up and machining times.”
Aside from the fact that the insert grinders still represent a valuable asset, McQuade had developed a large number of part programs over the years, which ideally would need to run on any replacement machines without requiring modification. The company therefore decided to preserve its investment by implementing a programme to upgrade the machines’ CNC systems, and subsequently engaged the services of Advanced Machine Technologies LLC (AMT), a specialist CNC retrofit company based in Owosso, Michigan.
The original RS12 insert grinders were fitted with NUM 760 CNC systems, NUM Guttinger NGS 610 servo drives and NUM/SEM brushed servomotors.
Having partnered with NUM on numerous automation upgrade projects over the past 22 years, AMT has considerable experience in replacing legacy systems such as these. In this instance, the company recommended upgrading to NUM’s latest-generation Flexium+ 68 CNC system, and replacing the drives and motors on all five axes with NUMdrive X digital servo drives and new NUM brushless servomotors.
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