What You Need to Know for a Successful Transition to CNC-Based Manufacturing

Manufacturers commonly buy CNCs because these flexible machines promise to replace several manual machines and dramatically improve the capabilities and efficiency of the production shop. This transition is, of course, very achievable, but because of inaccurate tooling and application choices, many buyers are missing out on fully optimizing their CNC machine performance.

When key machining principals such as proper part fixturing, achieving ideal cutting velocity and chip load are overlooked it can significantly affect process efficiency and ROI. Developing strong relationships with your router supplier and qualified tooling experts will prevent catastrophic errors and expedite the integration and optimization of this critical machine technology.

Utilizing existing hand routers and shaper tools

Many first-time CNC buyers will continue to use their inexpensive carbide-tipped tools on their new high-tech machine. These brazed carbide tools may “work,” but are generally not rigid, precise, balanced or durable enough to provide ideal CNC performance. Brazed carbide tools are, by necessity, much softer and less wear resistant than solid carbide or carbide insert tools. Tools designed around the CNC’s operational specifications and your output will yield more efficient and higher quality results.

Solid carbide router options

Solid carbide tools are also available in a range of hardness and durability levels that cannot be differentiated by eye. Carbide is essentially tungsten particles held together with a cobalt binder. Softer, less expensive routers are formed with 10% cobalt glue; harder more durable carbides generally have 3% cobalt concentration and may also include trace elements which resist thermal or mechanical dulling.

CNC operators may inadvertently settle for “softer/less durable” solid carbide tools because they’ve broken harder versions. Understanding why these higher quality tools broke (vibration, part movement, improper chip load, etc.) and addressing the issue will help you extend tool service-life and lower annualized tooling expenses.

Coated carbide tooling

Carbide coating options that improve surface lubricity, heat deflection, or increased cutting-edge hardness offer the next level of enhanced performance. These coatings are relatively inexpensive and generally provide much greater value to the user. Depending on how the tool must be sharpened, these coatings can sometimes provide extended performance over multiple service cycles.

Diamond tooling

Polycrystalline Diamond (PCD) routing tools can provide the lowest tooling cost per unit of production, but the higher initial tool cost and risk of damage can be intimidating. We recommend transitioning to diamond tools only after you are comfortable with the operation of your CNC and are enjoying problem-free routing with solid carbide tools. We also recommend forming a partnership with a PCD tooling supplier who can guide you through the proper utilization and care of these delicate yet durable tools. The baseline cost comparison for PCD vs. solid carbide routing tools is generally less than 7:1, but the average performance comparison should exceed 15:1. Used correctly, PCD tooling will dramatically reduce tooling inventory and required tool changes, while maximizing machine uptime and process efficiency.

Tool holding

Tool holding generally drives most CNC processing issues. Machine tooling start-up kits generally include basic collet chucks in one of three common collet versions (ER32, ER40 or SYOZ25/RDO35). Collets provide dimensional flexibility, allowing an operator to hold cutting tools with 1/8” to 1” diameter shanks in the same chuck body. Collets are, however, the first weak-link in an otherwise very rigid and precise machining process. The multi-directional torque applied to the collet when tightening or releasing tools can push the tools out of concentricity, and slight rotation or slipping of the tool will create internal damage which compounds tool run-out. Even the premium SYOZ25 collet system, which due to its 52mm grip length and 2.5-degree taper is the most precise option, can induce tool eccentricity and allow tool deflection. Collet systems also require significant maintenance and wear out over time, but issues which lead to poor tool performance are not always easy to visualize.

Eliminating collets

There are several collet-free chucking options available, but the easiest and most effective is Leitz ThermoGrip heat-shrink chucking system. ThermoGrip uses the thermo-mechanical properties of steel to grip tool shanks under tremendous pressure, effectively yielding a one-piece chuck and tool. Leitz ThermoGrip CNC chucking system provides the most rigid and precise CNC tool holding possible, optimizing cut quality, throughput and safety, while conservatively yielding $15,000 in annualized savings per machine shift. ThermoGrip ensures perfect tool concentricity under working loads, resulting in greater than 25% increase in tool life and at least 10% improvement in machine throughput at optimal finish quality.leitz, thermogrip, tooling, woodworking tools

We challenge customers to test their existing top running router bit style with the ThermoGrip. Once installed, their operator will immediately report:

  • Much quieter cutting
  • Outstanding cut quality
  • The ability to increase feed speed, without degrading the quality
  • Significantly longer tool life

 

Ultimately, this test is eye-opening for most customers, and a major step in optimizing the efficiency of their routing processes.

In conclusion

In order to optimize your CNC-based manufacturing process, you must be aware of available cutting tool related technologies and understand how to properly implement and utilize the technology. Tooling is the single machine accessory which can either limit or optimize your manufacturing efficiency and success. Having a knowledgeable tooling partner, with a worldwide perspective, will greatly enhance your ability to continuously improve your internal processes and keep your company at the forefront of the industry. How can Leitz help you?

Talk to your Leitz Representative about a partnership for continuous improvement. Fill out the form below or call us at 800.253.6070.

How Jefferson Millwork & Design Inc. Optimized Their Production Process with Expert Tooling

While it’s easy to put the majority of focus on the machine, your tooling has a major impact on your production efficiency. It creates a vicious cycle when tooling needs to be constantly serviced or replaced. Tools going out the door for frequent service results in an unnecessarily large tooling inventory just to keep machines running.  Additionally, tooling that wears out quickly forces manufacturers to buy new tooling more often.

When Tom Jewell with Jefferson Millwork & Design Inc, a nationally recognized, award-winning architectural and cabinet woodworking manufacturer, contacted Leitz for information on new router bits, their Leitz representative went beyond only providing pricing. After hearing Tom’s issues with dust collection and how quickly they were running through router bits, their Leitz representative offered to come to their location, review their application, and develop a plan to resolve the problems that were slowing down and adding cost to the manufacturing process.

Jefferson Millwork & Design Inc implemented Leitz Diamaster Pro diamond router bits and the Leitz ThermoGrip chuck. They are now experiencing a 6-7x improvement in the life of the tool. The longer tool life has helped them cut costs and reduce the downtime required to replace the bit while improving product quality. The Leitz ThermoGrip tool holding system uses an inductive heating concept to provide stronger, more concentric tool clamping. This leads to increased tool life, better surface finishes, and improved cost efficiency.

Inefficient dust collection was also plaguing Jefferson Millwork & Design Inc’s manufacturing process. To clear dust, the machine had to be shut-down and the dust manually blown off of the table. Adding an extra step and completely stopping production each time dust collection was required was a costly inefficiency that slowed output. Leitz installed a turbine to help with dust collection and eliminate the extra step and production shutdown.

By working hands-on with Tom and the team at Jefferson Millwork & Design, their Leitz representative was able to identify key areas to optimize the overall production process. Because of Leitz’ commitment to partnering with customers to ensure they are as profitable and successful as possible, the customer is saving time, saving money and has an improved cut quality. Jefferson Millwork is so pleased with the results, they are implementing an additional three set-ups and running the Leitz solution on all their applications.

Form a partnership for continuous improvement with Leitz. 

Get in touch with your Leitz representative by calling 800.253.6070or filling out the form below.