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Horn: When A Millimetre-Sized Component Is Already Considered Large

Horn: When a Millimetre-Sized Component is Already Considered Large

Making a Swiss watch requires micrometre-level of precision. Here’s how Paul Horn GmbH is helping Laubscher Präzision AG in its micro-machining work. 

Fig 1: Heavy metal tool holders provide excellent vibration damping. (Source: Horn/Sauermann)

“That’s large by our standards,” says Marco Schneider, department head at Laubscher Präzision AG, as he measures the screw under a microscope. What he is examining actually has a thread size of S 0.6 (a type found in Swiss watches), a thread length of just 0.55 mm and a head diameter of 1.2 mm. This is the kind of component that Laubscher Präzision AG, based in the Swiss town of Täuffelen, is used to handling in its micro-machining work, where it uses tools supplied by Paul Horn GmbH.

Horn developed the µ-Finish tool system to cope with even the smallest of parts: with its outstanding cutting quality, changeovers that achieve precision down to the micrometre level, and low-vibration tool carriers, it is an exceptional piece of equipment.

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There are several assemblies that go into the making of a Swiss watch, depending on the exact movement involved—the cogs, winding mechanism, drive mechanism, balance wheel, and motion work are some examples of these. Creating complex movements involves assembling numerous components in the tiniest of spaces, with screws holding everything together. A normal machinist would find producing these screws a hard nut to crack.

And despite their small dimensions, they still need to be synchronously transferred from the main spindle to a collet chuck in the counter spindle when it is time to machine the other side. Rather than callipers or an outside micrometer, it is a microscope with 50x magnification that is used to check the dimensions of these parts. 

Laubscher Präzision relies on the Horn µ-Finish system to produce screws with a thread size of S 0.6 and a thread length of 0.55 mm. It manufactures some 30,000 screws solely of this type every year. Factoring in the many other types that also come off its production line, that adds up to several million screws that Laubscher supplies to the watchmaking industry annually. 

Sharp Tools, Minimum Vibrations

Fig 2: A microscope is used to check the dimensions of medical technology components. (Source: Horn/Sauermann)

The material used to produce the screws is free-cutting steel in the form of 3 mm diameter bar stock. The process sequence is as follows: facing of the screw head, longitudinal turning of the screw head diameter and of the diameter for the thread, thread cutting and parting off. The µ-Finish tools have a role to play at every stage.

“When you’re precision-machining miniature parts, it’s vital that the tools are extremely sharp and the tool holders produce hardly any vibrations,” explains Alain Kiener, Production Manager at Laubscher. The edge chipping and cutting performance that can be achieved are also essential to the micro-machining process, as any irregularity on the cutting edge will ultimately be reflected on the workpiece.

READ: Horn Unveils New Cutting Insert System

The Swiss company also specialises in producing micro components for medical technology—where the µ-Finish system once again comes into play, this time in the manufacture of venous plugs. Used for closing off vessels in electromedical applications, these components are pushed through a vein up to the heart via the groin in a minimally invasive surgical procedure. Their front section is then snapped off at the predetermined breaking point, closing off the vessel. 

Boosting Tool Life to 1,000 Recesses

Fig 3: A partnership spanning 25 years: Alain Kiener (Laubscher) in discussion with Phillip Dahlhaus (Horn), Marco Schneider (Laubscher) and Christoph Schlaginhaufen (Dihawag). (Source: Horn/Sauermann)

Every year, Laubscher is able to produce between 100,000 and 200,000 of these components, which are made of X5CrNi18-10 (1.4301). The predetermined breaking point has a diameter of 0.1 mm.

“At first, we ground the tool to create the predetermined breaking point profile ourselves. As the cutting quality of the Horn equipment is so good, however, we’ve managed to increase tool life to 1,000 recesses per insert,” says Schneider. When creating recesses up to a diameter of 0.1 mm in solid material, a sharp cutting edge and a vibration-damped tool holder are indispensable.

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“Our tool system for micro-machining is also available with heavy metal tool holders, keeping vibrations to a minimum during machining,” says Horn application engineer Phillip Dahlhaus. “In medical technology, a very high surface quality is required. That’s because even tiny irregularities on the component, like grooves and burrs, can be a breeding ground for bacteria.”

The µ-Finish tool system is primarily aimed at micro-machining operators. Based on the S274 system, it features inserts that have been ground with outstanding precision. Every tool undergoes a comprehensive round of inspections during the production process to ensure that its cutting edges deliver these excellent standards of quality. Together with the central clamping screw and the precision-ground circumference of the indexable insert, the tool holder insert seat helps the system to achieve indexability to within microns. This in turn allows the insert to be indexed in the machine without the need to re-measure the centre height or any other dimensions.

In addition to its extensive range of standard profiles, Horn offers custom-made inserts with special designs. “Horn provides high-end tools for a wide range of applications, and solutions for everything from watchmaking screws and medical parts to hydraulic components. We use Horn tools on our Swiss-type lathe, our multi-spindle lathe, and almost everything in between,” says Kiener.

Horn itself is a German tool manufacturer and is represented in Switzerland by the company Dihawag. This partnership between Laubscher, Horn and Dihawag has been in existence for some 25 years, during which time Horn has successfully supplied tools for numerous machining solutions.

“It’s a fantastic partnership. Dihawag and Horn’s representatives are quick to respond to anything relating to our machining tasks, and we know that we can rely on them. We all work together extremely well and it’s amazing how quickly the tools are delivered,” says Kiener.


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C-Com Projects With MARPOSS And Oerlikon Balzers To Introduce Intelligent App For Tooling

c-Com Projects With MARPOSS And Oerlikon Balzers To Introduce Intelligent App For Tooling

Step-by-step networking for in-house manufacturing, involving suppliers and customers and efficiently using data together – the digital services provided by c-Com, a member of MAPAL Group, make it all possible. However, the start-up isn’t just developing its own applications. It’s also generating added value for customers by working closely with cooperation partners.

Cooperation with MARPOSS: reduced setup times and maximum tool service life

The optimal and longest-possible use of tools represents a vital cost factor for machining companies. But compromises are often necessary – particularly in series production and as part of automated processes. Tools with a defined tool life are replaced as soon as the specified tool life has come to an end. In many cases, though, the tool has not truly reached the end of its tool life and replacement is not yet necessary. However, companies play it safe to avoid quality issues and the risk of producing items that later need to be rejected.

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This is one of the elements addressed by the ARTIS GENIOR MODULAR module by MARPOSS. The fully automatic tool- and process-monitoring system has been an established feature of the market for many years. It works by recording various measurements and assessing them on the basis of several criteria.

MARPOSS recently launched a collaboration with c-Com GmbH and its c-Com open cloud platform to provide module users with additional value: the ARTIS GENIOR MODULAR module and c-Com are set to exchange data. Once the defined tool limits have been reached, the staff member responsible receives a notification on their mobile terminal – which is made possible by the cooperation with c-Com. As a result, operators can react more quickly and boost the efficiency of their manufacturing processes.

Cooperation with Oerlikon Balzers: transparency and sustainability thanks to digital processing for coating

Many tools are re-sharpened and re-coated to make production as cost-efficient as possible and to use raw materials sustainably. This procedure is very complex for everyone involved – from the machine operators to the staff members carrying out the re-sharpening and coating. If a staff member responsible for re-sharpening sends a tool for coating, this staff member is often not aware of corresponding order status. This results in frequent queries. In some cases, the number of re-sharpening processes is simply marked on the tool shank. Overall, the total benefit is reduced by the very high investment of time and effort required.

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In cooperation with Oerlikon Balzers, c-Com has developed an application that enables significantly more effective and transparent order processing. The prototype was showcased at EMO Hannover. The only prerequisite to benefitting from the advantages of digital processing for coating is identifying all tools with a unique ID.

The c-Com application exchanges data with the myBalzers customer portal run by Oerlikon Balzers. This way, the entire order process is digitalised, and all receipts are available online. It is easy to share documents such as delivery slips, invoices or order confirmations, and the status of each coating order can be viewed in real time. There is no longer a need to ask for order updates – a quick glance at the application provides the user with all the information they need. On top of this, machine operators have access to all the important information about their tool at all times. Thanks to the collaborative approach by c-Com, they can access all data via the cloud.

The c-Com wear detection app: a technical advisor in your pocket

c-Com has developed a wear detection application to provide answers to these questions. The prototype for the application was presented at EMO Hannover. The application is very simple to use: first, the worn blade is documented using a smartphone and a conventional auxiliary lens for zooming in. The app then identifies the type of wear and suggests corresponding recommended actions. This allows users to prevent this type of wear in future.

The application is based on machine learning, a sub-category of artificial intelligence. This means that the application uses datasets to learn. Together with tool specialists at MAPAL, c-Com has compiled and categorized hundreds of images. Effectively, the algorithm was trained by being shown what different types of wear look like, allowing it to assess whether or not a blade is in good order.


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Kennametal KBH10 For Hard Turning

Kennametal released the KBH10—an uncoated polycrystalline cubic boron nitride (PcBN) turning insert offering wear resistance needed to turn hardened metals up to 65 Rc and low cutting force, increasing tool life.

The PcBN composition is designed for up to 20 percent higher cutting speed—about 180 m/min or 590 sfm, saves on insert costs and substantially reducing downtime due to tool changeovers. It is able to achieve Ra 0.2—surface requirement being less than Ra .04 μm, and Rz 1 surface roughness, maintaining the profile and dimensional tolerances of less than 4 μm.

Kennametal KBH10 Mastering the challenges of hard turning. KBH10 is an uncoated PcBN turning insert that offers wear resistance and very low cutting forces. As a result, many customers are now enjoying double the tool life together with improved part quality.

Ideally suited for fine-finishing operations, its shape offers sharper and freer cutting—reducing cutting forces by up to 40 percent. With lower cutting pressure and heat, crater and flank wear is decreased.



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Walter Tool Life App

Walter Tool Life App

Walter’s Tool Life app is for visualising and analysing tool data. The browser-based user interface can be called up universally via the intranet network of the relevant customer. The user interface has improved menu navigation handling, while a newly structured database in the background enhances performance. The app does not need a code to identify the tools for the system. This means that users benefit from multi-device functionality and flexible working.

Users will need the company’s appCom package—comprising an industrial PC and standard software developed—to make full use of the app.



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The Right Coolant Becomes A Liquid Tool

The Right Coolant Becomes A Liquid Tool

If you want to be successful as a contract manufacturer and as a supplier to businesses, working on reliability, flexibility and precision count most. By Blaser

Otto Ackermann AG from Lachen specialises in machining manufacturing of ultraprecise parts. As an important partner of renowned industrial companies, the Swiss company has in the past 48 years made its name in the field of CNC machining of aluminium, non-ferrous metals and plastic, and this name stands for the highest quality and precision. “However, we primarily specialise in aluminium machining”, says Otto Ackermann, chairman of the board and founder of Otto Ackermann AG.

Tool Life Twice As Long

The heads of production at Otto Ackermann realised there were quality fluctuations in the coolant used up to that time, which led to problems — especially in the case of thread cutting. In order to improve the quality of the manufactured precision parts, the safety and the stability, attempts were made to find a perfectly suitable coolant for the needs of Otto Ackermann.

“In the case of aluminium processing, it is also important to make sure that the workpiece does not become wet, as it has to remain clean and stainless for further processing. We were only able to achieve all of this by using Blaser Swisslube’s coolant solution,” says Otto Ackermann.

Simplified Monitoring And Performance

The installation of a 17 cubic metre central system simplifies coolant monitoring and maintenance. “Our production is spread over several buildings and various levels. By means of the central system, we can achieve the same temperature on all machines, which also helps to strongly improve the precision of the parts. Furthermore, this significantly simplifies the maintenance, as everything can be found in the same place,” Otto Ackermann adds.

The result of the coolant changeover is rather impressive: Blasocut 2000 Universal, the coolant recommended and used by the Blaser specialists, was able to double the tool life. Apart from that, employees rarely had to cease their work due to allergic skin reactions.

“I care very much about the health of my staff. This is why it was so important to me to find not only the best coolant for the machines, but also a skin-friendly solution for our employees, because let’s be honest – the greatest potential of any company are the people working there, and you have to take care of them,” Ackermann says.

Customised Maintenance, Servicing Concept

Furthermore, in cooperation with Blaser, a simple maintenance and servicing concept for the production facility was developed and implemented, and systematic and regular monitoring of the coolant was introduced.

“An employee checks the concentration of the emulsion on a weekly basis using a refractometer measures the pH-value and checks the entire central system. Once a month we send a sample of the coolant to Blaser Swisslube’s customer service laboratory, after which we receive an e-mail containing an evaluation of the laboratory examinations. This is an important point for us, as in this way we are always on the safe side and – if necessary – receive recommendations from specialists”, Otto Ackermann explains.

“A coolant which is ideally suitable for the customer’s requirements must be regularly monitored and maintained, as this is the only way it can become a Liquid Tool and can let machines and tools develop their full potential,” says Blaser Swisslube’s application engineer in charge.

Continuing Optimisation Together

“Thanks to our company-owned technology centre, we have the ideal prerequisites for simulating and testing the most diverse machining operations of our customers. After we achieved very good results in aluminium processing using our B-Cool 755 coolant, I recommended this product to Otto Ackermann last year.

I was certain that we would achieve even better results using B-Cool 755,” Blaser’s application engineer explains.

Otto Ackermann adds: “We changed over to B-Cool 755, and the results were convincing. The consumption was reduced yet again thanks to the lower top-up rate, the machines have become even cleaner, and the tool life has increased, too. Ultimately, I can only say that the cooperation with Blaser is going brilliantly. We have never regretted this step. It was a close cooperation from the very beginning, and Blaser constantly supports us, so that in the future we can be even more productive and economical.”

The Liquid Tool

Blaser Swisslube’s goal is to optimise its customers’ manufacturing processes with the Liquid Tool and to improve their economic efficiency, productivity as well as the machining quality. In close cooperation with the customers and based on a holistic view of the manufacturing process, Blaser Swisslube presents the possibilities to fully exploit the potential of machines and tools by using the right metalworking fluid which becomes a Liquid Tool.

This promise is backed by excellent products, customised services, competent experts and its long experience in the metalworking industry.

The Right Coolant Becomes A Liquid Tool

Cubic milling part

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