Shop Floor Programming … Why It’s Different and Why It Matters

If you have ever worked and lived on the shop floor … as we did for over 30+ years … you know there is a difference between programming for job shop production  … what we call every day programming / shop floor programming … and complex “die and mold” programming which is the true essence of CAD/CAM and CAD/CAM programming.

It’s a fact … it’s real … and it can DEFINITELY mean the difference between profit and loss. 

Let’s take a look at exactly what we mean …. because there is a HUGE difference in employing a SHOP FLOOR PROGRAMMING model vs. a CAD/CAM PROGRAMMING model. 

SHOP FLOOR PROGRAMMING

In a job shop and / or production environment … shop floor programming can really pay big dividends when the statement “the more the merrier” is employed. The more personnel that are involved in the creation of G code programs … the better the efficiency and the better the output. Allowing shop floor personnel to create the simpler, everyday CNC programs using tools like our Kipware® conversational means increased profits along with that increased efficiency and output.

In most cases … being a good chipmaker is the key experience requirement. Someone who can cut chips … knows material removal and all that that encompasses … and knows fixturing and workholding. While the knowledge of G code in any CNC environment is always essential … tools like Kipware® conversational can assist those chipmakers with limited G code knowledge create fast and efficient  G code programs. Shop floor programming was the main environment … the main design incentive … behind all of our the Kipware® conversational programming applications. KipwareM® ( milling ) and KipwareT® ( turning ) were specifically designed to assist users in creating those everyday, production G code programs. We lived and worked on the shop floor and saw why this type of programming was so essential … and how the availability of quality applications like Kipware® conversational were lacking. Kipware® conversational has been proven in the trenches over 25+ years as a great tool to enhance production capacity and output.

We have spoken over our many years with many Kipware® users who have taken the step  to allow multiple personnel … qualified chipmakers … to enhance the shop floor CNC programming with Kipware® conversational. The overwhelming feeling is that they never realized the positive effect that Kipware® conversational … and shop floor programming can have on the output and efficiency of their shop floor. They made the decision to depart from the one-man … CAD/CAM office … and CAD/CAM programming model to the nimble, efficient shop floor programming model enhanced with tools like Kipware® conversational. We are proud and work hard every day to make our point about shop floor programming … to enhance our software … and to provide our manufacturers with the tools they need to make shop floor programming effective and powerful.

CAD/CAM PROGRAMMING

Is contrast to the points outlined above … the programming of complex … what we’ll call “die and mold programming” … is the CAD/CAM programming model of CNC programming. This very often starts with design … using powerful CAD software to design, engineer, and explore the interaction of components … prior to the actual machining and production of the workpiece(s).

The experience required in this type of CNC programming varies but is extensive. From design and engineering experience and training … to the drawing experience and training using CAD software … but does not necessarily include the chipmaking experiences and training required in the shop floor programming model as illustrated above. Most often the design and CAM generated G code programs are handed off to the shop floor for set-up and execution. CNC programs are created by computer operators rather than real chipmakers.

This is not the model for which Kipware® conversational was designed … and it is a model where CAD/CAM … and the expense of CAD/CAM applications … is justified.

BUT …

That being said … still not every workpiece .. and not every workpiece designed and created through a CAD system … should be or needs to be programmed in the CAD/CAM system by the “CAD/CAM programmer”. Here we illustrate that CAD can be different than CAD/CAM. While having a drawing and design application … a CAD program … can be and oftentimes is essential … the CAM part is up for discussion. Having the simpler workpieces … the everyday type workpieces … programmed on the shop floor can free up additional programming resources to concentrate on the more complex programming required for the more complex components. Shop floor programming can be the key that unlocks increased efficiency and productivity … even when using a CAD and / or CAD/CAM programming model.

And home and hobby shops?

One man, small shops and hobby makers can also reap the rewards of NOT programming every workpiece through a CAD/CAM system and using a shop floor programming application. The quick and efficient programming made possible through tools like Kipware® conversational can assist in realizing the quick and accurate production of workpieces … whether a single component, multiple components or in production. Spending time creating drawings … because every CAD/CAM program starts with a CAD model … for even the simplest of operations … can slow down, bog down, and waste time that home and hobby shops can’t afford to waste.

Although usually a CAD system is required in these environments … mainly because small shops and one man shops also do their own design … shop floor programming and tools like Kipware® conversational are also an essential part of their efficiency.


Bottom line …

CAD/CAM is a great tool. But it can be overkill … can often bog down a programming environment … and can remove good chipmakers from the programming process. These chipmakers are more often than not the keys to unlocking a good SHOP FLOOR PROGRAMMING SYSTEM and the benefits that can come from that.

Don’t be fooled by the CAD/CAM marketing.
Don’t get caught in CAD/CAM overkill.

We invite you to explore Kipware conversational and see how shop floor programming can set you and your shop floor free !!

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

When is a CNC Program More Than JUST G Code?

… when it’s a set-up sheet as well.

Most people are familiar with the ability of most CNC controls to include COMMENTS in the CNC G code program itself. Comments are designated in a variety of ways from :

  1. ( THIS IS A FANUC AND OKUMA COMMENT ) … any text inside (  ) is considered a comment.
  2. ! THIS IS AN ACRAMATIC COMMENT … any text following the ! is considered a comment.
  3. ; THIS IS A FAGOR COMMENT … any text following the ; is considered a comment.
  4. and on and on we could go.

Comments can be a real help when they include operator messages … such as :

M00 ( TURN PART AROUND )
or
M00 ! CHECK DIMENSION A

… but comments can go well beyond operator messages and can turn your G code program into a complete set-up doc as well that includes tool information, part zero locations and even stock descriptions.

Most people will create either a paper or digital tool sheet / list and / or set-up sheet / list that is stored and re-called when the corresponding G code program is going to be run again. The set-up personnel refer to these docs to set the machine up … loading required tools and setting height offsets and work offsets. Works great … no problems. But is there a better alternative? The answer is a “could be” yes. By storing this information directly in the G code program using the COMMENT capability of your CNC control. For example … something like this :

O1234
( PART #1234 )
( PROVEN PROGRAM : 7/2/2014 )
( PROGRAMMER : JM )
( PART LOCATED IN VISE USING JAWS JW-1234 )
( STOP SET-UP IS RIGHT SIDE – WORKPIECE STOP AGAINST FLANGE )
( X/Y PART ZERO IS LOWER LEFT CORNER )
( Z0 = TOP FINISH SURFACE )
( T1 / H1 = #3 CENTER DRILL )
( T2 / H22  = 1/2 DRILL )
( T3 / H3 = .500 CARBIDE END MILL )

So what is the advantage of keeping this info directly in the G code program using the COMMENTS capability of the CNC control?

  1. Harder to misplace … if you’re going to run the program, you need the program … and all the set-up info is right there stored right inside the G code program.
  2. Complete info is there for all to see at any time … no rummaging for loose paperwork or docs.
  3. Any edits or changes can be made directly in the program … when the running program is saved after execution … all the current set-up info is changed and saved as well including all updated data.

We often get asked … “Won’t this slow down my program execution speed?” The truth is that it will … but it will also be so minimal that usually the cost savings of having comments and all the convenience that comes with it far outweigh any reduction in program execution time. Rummaging around for lost documentation or re-creating lost documentation would be the real money waster.

Just a little something to think about if you haven’t considered COMMENTS already in your CNC programming. We touched on only a few points here … but we’re sure you can find many more benefits depending on the capabilities or lack thereof pertaining to your particular CNC programming operation. The fact is that expanding the use of COMMENTS in your CNC programming could be a real time and money saving alternative to digital or paper documentation.

Until next time … Happy Chip Making !!
Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Building the X-CARVE for KÄRV Woodworking

As mentioned in our previous post … we are in the process of creating and setting up a sister company to Kentech Inc. … called KÄRV.

KÄRV will allow us to take our metalworking talents … along with the Kipware® software we designed and built at Kentech … to the woodworking stage as we create custom, handmade furniture and unique wood carvings and introduce them to the KÄRV product line.

We will be using our quoting and estimating software to help determine pricing … and our conversational CNC programming software to help create G code programs for our X-CARVE CNC router.

And all along the way … we will be blogging about it all here. So we invite you to visit often and see Kipware® in action … and maybe even discover some KÄRV products that you might like to own !!


We began back on October 22 by registering KÄRV as a business in our city … started setting up our workshop … ordered our X-CARVE … and now we have completed the build and test cut for the X-CARVE.

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We waited for a little over (3) weeks to receive the X-CARVE … which seemed like an eternity … after we placed the order. That was a little disappointing. Of course the X-CARVE came un-assembled … and in many many pieces. But the good new was the step-by-step instructions available from INVENTABLES … the creators of the X-CARVE were just fabulous. Very in-depth … easy to follow … and coupled with some patience we went from box to completed assembly in about 24 total hours. One not-so-nice event was that while we were able to build the complete machine … the controller was back-ordered. So the completed machine sat and waited for almost 1 week while we waited for the controller. Finally we had to make a few calls to INVENTABLES to gently nudge them and we received the controller … and set out to test carve.

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We decided to program some simple lettering for our test cut … and make a little sign for the workshop. We used Vectric VCARVE software which we bought from INVENTABLES when we purchased our X-CARVE. The software appears to be quite powerful and it was real easy to create our desired toolpath.

image_list

We cut the letters reversed … leaving .010 of material on the back edge just to hold everything together. Then we glued the letters to a backing piece of wood … turned the whole assemble over and sanded off the .010 of material to reveal the letters. Not bad for a first sample.

So now we are ready to move onto bigger and better things !!
Stay tuned … or visit us at www.KarvWoodworking.com

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Why Use Cutter Compensation In Your CNC Programming ?

The story has been circulating here about a support issue that was raised recently where a Kipware® conversational customer inquired about how to have KipwareT® output program coordinates using the tool center vs. using G41/G42 cutter compensation and the imaginary tool tip on the control. The conversation went something like this :

Support Staff : “Why would you want to do that? That’s really not a good programming practice.”

Client : “Well all our programs are written like that.”

Support Staff : “OK … but that’s not a good programming practice. When we created Kipware® conversational we wanted to include best programming practice so KipwareT® outputs G41 / G42 and does all the calculations and automatically includes all start-up and cancel blocks and code … so it creates a better program. No worries … even if you don’t know how to program it KipwareT® does it all for you.”

Client : “Yes but nobody programs like that.”

Really? Nobody out there programs like that? We find that hard to believe.

So … we decided to post some of our main reasoning for considering the use of cutter compensation on the control as “Best Programming Practice”. If you agree with our points … we hope that you will consider making the change … getting educated … and to start creating your G code programs using G41 / G42 cutter compensation.

cutter_comp1

  1. Program Coordinates … programming to the tool tip center means that coordinates in the program do not reflect actual part print coordinates. Coordinates are based on the tool tip center rather than on the part dimensions. You can imagine the trouble and confusion that happens when edits need to be made.
  2. Tool Interchange – Turning … since the G code was written for a specific tool radius … the program will only function correctly for that tool radius. Decide to use a 1/64 radius for finish when the program was written for a 1/32 radius … re-program or re-generate the toolpath.
  3. Tool Interchange – Milling … I think this point probably comes into play more for milling G code than turning G code. Does your shop always have perfect .500 end mills? If so … WHY ???? Re-grinding end mills is quite a cost saver … but it means your end mills might be .485 or something odd. If you use G41 / G42 … who cares? Just enter the correct offset value.
  4. Dimensional Adjustments … Come on, this is the real world. There is no reason to keep running back and forth to the CAD/CAM guy or programming office when dimensional adjustments need to be made during production … and they will be because cutting conditions are not theoretical, they’re real !!. Cutter compensation and part / tool offsets can handle probably 99.99% of all dimensional adjustments. Use the power of the control !!

Some of the main reasons we hear for why clients don’t use cutter compensation ( and none of them are valid by the way ) …

  1. Nobody taught me. Come on … grab a hold of your future and do some “playing” at the machine … or read for yourself. This is a truly important programming tool … you need to know hoe to use it if you want to go anywhere.
  2. Nobody uses it.  Like our scenario above … just keeping following the crowd … over the cliff. If I ran that shop … the guy that comes to me and says “I think we need to change the way we think about cutter compensation” would have more of my respect than the guy who gives me the excuse “That’s the way we always did it.”

“I’m not stubborn … 

it’s just that doing things your way is stupid.”

After having spent more than 30+ years creating … editing … teaching … G code and running shops on a day-to-day basis … cutter compensation is one of the most mis-understood and mis-used programming feature. And also the most important tool a programmer and operator and shop foreman has at his/her disposal.

If you agree … want to learn more … or just want some additional reading … below is a link to one of our previous posts that dealt with this issue also … CLICK HERE for that article.

Unfortunately CAD/CAM systems have made it so easy to program with tool tip radius … but in the real world, on the shop floor, it can be a real detriment to productivity and efficiency. We urge any CNC programmer out there who is not using cutter compensation on the control to step up and take control of your future … get educated on cutter compensation … and use cutter compensation in your G code. Your future will be a lot brighter … and profitable.

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

We’re taking our talents to …

After 30+ years in the metalworking industry … we are about to expand our scope as I TAKE MY TALENTS TO … WOOD !!

decision

On October 22, 2016 … KÄRV was born !!

Personally I have been dabbling in woodworking for quite a while and I felt the time had come to take it to the next level.  I mean why not?? Through Kentech Inc. we have developed all the software needed to operate a manufacturing business through our quoting and estimating … CNC programming … and shop utility software. When you come right down to it … making products from wood is very similar to making products from metal. A collaboration between Kärv and Kentech is a NATURAL !!

We invite you to follow our progress along here at the Kipware Blog and on our CNC Machinist Blog as we rev up. We will be detailing our progress as we receive and set-up our X-CARVE cnc router from Inventables. We we will be illustrating and blogging all the steps from unpacking to first cut at the blogs … so please follow along.

After we get the X-CARVE up and running we will be illustrating and blogging about how we integrate our Kipware® quoting and estimating software and Kipware® programming software into winning work … and producing work !! … so please follow along.

karv_sign2

We will also be publishing more on the offerings from Kärv on the Kärv website … www.KarvWoodworking .com. So please visit the website as well. Who knows … you might even find some items of interest for yourself or for gifts.

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Craftsman and Maker … www.KarvWoodworking.com

Deciphering M CODES for Your CNC Machine

Recently we have been working with some Kipware® conversational clients assisting them in setting up their Kipware® post processor blocks for their G code output. With the addition of our EIA MENU option … users now have greater flexibility in using machine functions ( M ) functions in their G code to accomplish specific tasks. One example might be … parts catcher UP or DOWN to catch a part being parted-off … or chuck OPEN and CLOSE during a bar feed operation … or 4th axis CLAMP and UNCLAMP for CNC mill.

During these sessions we are coming across the situation where the end user doesn’t know the specific M for their machine to accomplish some of these tasks. And for whatever reason … manuals lost or misplaced … machine was purchased used and no manuals were included … or whatever … the end user does not have any Operator or Programmer manuals for their machine which would normally outline the M codes and their function. Without the manuals … they have no way of finding out what M functions control what. OR DO THEY ??

Let’s start this journey with a brief explanation of the HOW’s and WHY’s of CNC M functions. 

  1. First … there is no “industry” standard for M functions. Although you might find that M08 and M09 or M03 and M04 work for most CNC machines … there is not an industry standard that says they must meet a certain criteria.
  2. M functions are designed by the machine tool builder … not the control manufacturer. So you may have (5) Fanuc controlled machines in your shop … some Mori Seiki’s some Hitachi some Leadwell … all with different M functions. Because the M function circuits are designed by the machine tool builder and not Fanuc.

With those basic facts … when you ask your buddy “What’s the M function to open the chuck?” … and he says “M11” … and it doesn’t work on your machine … now you know why.

So how can you find out the M functions for your machine WITHOUT an Operators or Programming manual?

One of the best ways is to use either the electrical or ladder diagram for the machine. Although most Operator or Programming manuals get lost along the way … mostly because they are not kept with the machine but rather float around the office or shop … electrical diagrams ( which outline the electrical circuitry of the machine ) and ladder diagrams ( which outline the logic of the machine ) are most often kept inside the machines electrical cabinet. Open up the doors and you will usually find one or the other or both.

Even if you’re not electrical savvy … the circuits are pretty clearly labelled and you can find say the CHUCK OPEN circuit and trace things back to find the appropriate M function. Again … because they are built and designed by the machine tool builder and their electrical outline is outside the realm of the control … these circuits are contained in the machines electrical documentation … not the docs for the control.

electrical_circuit_pic

electrical_circuit_zoom_pic

Above is a pic of an electrical diagram for a Shizuoka CNC vertical mill … with an exploded view on the bottom. You can see fairly easily even without any electrical savvy that the M10 command will control the 4th axis clamping function. 

With today’s more sophisticated controls … oftentimes the ladder diagram is available directly on the machine controls CRT. You can pull up the ladder and even search for the appropriate function command … but in other cases the “old fashioned” printed ladder can also usually be found in the machines electrical cabinet.

Taking a look at either the electrical diagram or ladder will usually result in some additional road or path to travel to find the appropriate M function on your machine. A simple execution of an MDI command is a good test to see what happens. The old Trial and Error method will open up additional doors or produce the desired results.

M functions are powerful options on your CNC machine that can help automate many tasks and make your manufacturing more efficient. Know that you know the trick to discovering the M functions on your CNC machine … why not peruse your electrical or ladder diagram and see if there are any you might be missing in your programming?

Like what you see?
Please visit us at www.KentechInc.com

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Guidelines for Calculating Machine HOURLY RATE

We tout this fact all the time in our marketing … at Kentech Inc. we are MACHINISTS … we cut chips, we programmed, we ran shop floors for years … then we became software engineers and designers and built software products we saw were lacking during those years. What we refer to as Real World Machine Shop Software. 

As a result, many of our clients come to us to take advantage of that experience … especially those just starting out. Since quoting and estimating is one of the first tasks a new shop needs to get right … we get asked quite a lot of questions about these areas. Our KipwareCYC® ( machining cycletime estimating software ) and KipwareQTE® ( cost estimating / quoting software ) titles are two of our most popular titles. One of the “hot” topics we encounter during online presentations of these titles is often concerning the cost to charge for a machining or a shop rate. So we thought it was a good time to add a blog post with some guidelines we feel are simple enough … but important enough … that can get you to an accurate figure.

Since many shops will utilize an hourly rate as a basis for charging for machining time, this post is dedicated to some helpful guidelines on how to calculate that machining hourly rate. Below are some points we consider important when calculating the hourly rate for a particular machine. The areas requiring calculations include :

Equipment – Cost Per Hour of Operation … a common formula : (machine purchase cost + expected lifetime maintenance cost) / expected hours of operating life.

Direct Labor Cost per Hour … a common formula : (total annual labor costs + taxes + benefits + paid time off) / (total annual hours worked – breaks and training time)

Overhead Cost Per Hour  : Any costs not directly involved in machining a part is overhead. These include costs for administrative staff salary, equipment, furniture, building lease, maintenance and office supplies. Calculate the annual costs of these, then divide by total labor or machine hours for the year. This will be your overhead cost per hour

Once the above costs are calculated … you can use the formulas and guidelines below to arrive at either a “general” shop hourly rate or an hourly rate based on a specific piece of equipment.

General Machine Shop Hourly Rate … a common formula : Average overall shop rate = (average machine cost per hour + labor and overhead cost per hour) x markup

Machine Specific Hourly Rate … a common formula : (specific machine(s) cost per hour + labor + overhead cost per hour) x markup

Somewhat simplified … and usually a work in progress as factors may change. It is important to gather all the figures in the formulas above as best you can … as accurate as you can … and to keep tabs on any factors that may change along the way.

Estimating

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Shop Efficiency Series Part 6 : Gauging Your Shop’s Efficiency with the Magnificent 7

We have dedicated a lot of time and brought out a lot of ideas in our Shop Efficiency series … but most have been based “on the shop floor” and have targeted machining … set-up … and tooling. Quite a few clients have written us to ask about the business side … more of the “How do I actually know if my shop is efficient” … which is a great question. So in this post we turn our attention to the shop management and specifically ways of gauging your shop efficiency.

magnificent_seven

I have listed a few of what I consider critical areas in this Shop Efficiency post … one’s that I feel are among the easiest to gauge and important to watch … what I call the Magnificent Seven. The points below are not in the order of most importance … just simply a list of all the metrics. Creating a spreadsheet and taking a daily count with most of these factors will allow you to see the results as they happen … and over time will reveal the ups and downs of the shop in general … and allow you to make corrections. You can start your journey on the first of the month … for example … and take a few minutes every day or every week to fill in the numbers … building the information in the spreadsheet as you go along. Make a graph … and watch what these factors will reveal. If you stick with it … you will be shocked … maybe happily … maybe not.

(1) Revenue Per Man Hour

Revenue per Man-hour is the annual revenue ( or do it by month ) divided by the total paid man-hours, including paid vacations and overtime. Keeping a running total of these activities and although this is a general look at the numbers … it can be very telling.

(2) Lead Time

Customer Order Lead Time includes order-entry through production to shipment for every job. Again, start a running list from the first of the month and carry on. This stat will reveal your shop efficiency as well as give you a chance to look at the quantity of work going through the shop … and the time frame it takes to go from order received to revenue received.

(3) Labor Turnover

quittingLabor Turnover Rate is the number of voluntary and involuntary separations divided by the typical number of employees. Hopefully you won’t be keeping a monthly log of this stat … but keeping a log of the turnover rate will still yield a telling tale. Although this stat has it’s own revelation … it also shows one key point regarding efficiency. When an employee leaves a company ( for any reason ) he / she also takes a piece of that company’s memory and experiences with them. That loss of memory or experience can lead to efficiency and productivity loss. A company that experiences high turnover rates needs to find ways to insure that experiences and memory don’t leave the building along with the employee. A low labor turnover rate … as the inverse … helps achieve and maintain high performance, productivity and efficiency.

(4) Completion Rate

This factor can be described as the On-Time Completion Rate. It is the percentage of goods delivered on time. This is … obviously … a direct result of shop efficiency. Keep a log for every job going through the shop and how it fared in the On-Time Completion Rate.

(5) Scrap and Rework

scrap

This factor is the Scrap and Rework as a percentage of shop sales. Scrap and rework cost time and money. Some scrap and even some rework is inevitable … but this factor may be most useful as an indicator of how well things are going out on the shop floor. An high scrap and rework percentage is an early tip-off that something … or someone … needs a deeper look.

(6) Machine Uptime

Total Machine Uptime is the hours of production as a percentage of the total operating hours for the shop per week. In other words, what percentage of an average shift are each of your shop’s machines running. Basically put … your employees get paid every day whether they are productive or not … idle machines are not making that money even though the employees are getting paid. Therefore, how much a machine is up and running becomes an important factor for determining just how productive and profitable that shop is.

(7) Machine Availability

Machine Availability is the time machines are actually available for use compared to the time they are supposed to be available. Unscheduled maintenance or other problems will reduce a machine’s expected availability … and impact production schedules negatively which in turn reduce the ability of a shop to deliver product on time.

There will be some out there that utter the phrase “I know all this just by being out in the shop every day.” And that may be true. But seeing the numbers on “paper” ( it might be your computer screen ) is much more telling … and much more emphatic … and makes the point much more clearer.

So … there you have it … the Magnificent Seven. Keeping a close eye on these factors or metrics will most definitely put your shop’s efficiency in glaring focus … and will most likely open your eyes and mind to whole list of other metrics that may be pertinent to your particular shop and operation. Taking the time to develop and review your information as it develops will prove to be more than worth the effort … and keeping the faith will insure your shop is on the straight and steady track.

Estimating

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Shop Efficiency Series Part 5 : Multi-Function Tools

Multi-function tools have been around for quite a while but oftentimes are overlooked for a variety of reasons ranging from lack of understanding to shop inventory. But the truth is that in many situations, multi-function tools can be a key to reduced cycletime … more efficient machining … better workflow … and that ultimate prize … increased shop efficiency.

In this installment of our Shop Efficiency Series … will take a quick look at some of the more common multi-functions tools … outline some of their features and benefits … to hopefully bring about a better understanding and start that “machinist mind” thinking about how these types of tools might be able to benefit your particular shop efficiency.

Milling : Multi-Function End Mill
Multi-function end mills are designed with two main features … low cutting resistance and good chip evacuation when center cutting / drilling and milling at an angle. These two features give these tools the ability to perform both drilling and milling … which makes them an indispensable part of your tooling inventory. Imagine being able to select either plunge milling or side milling when machining … or employing a combination of both because the tool has that capability. The image below gives the whole range of machining op’s that are available with this tool type … it illustrates well their flexibility and capability … and speaks volumes about why they should be one of your go-to tools. As you can see there are a variety of operations where they can make an impact.

endmill_1

Additional Information / Recommendation :

Tool Name / Manufacturer : Kyocera MEY – Ultra Drill Mill
Catalog / Brochure Link :
http://global.kyocera.com/prdct/tool/pdf/e-d_mey.pdf

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Milling : Thriller – Drill / C’Sink / Tap
If you have never utilized a combination drill / thread mill … this tools will really blow your mind. Center drilling … drilling … countersinking … thread milling or tapping as means of creating a tapped hole is SOOOO NOT KOOL !! 4 tools combined with the tool changes … stopping and starting … tool costs … etc. … make this method of creating threaded holes simply NOT ACCEPTABLE when discussing shop efficiency. You may have held off on these thinking that they are really for specific types of threaded holes … but the more you look the more they make sense as the go-to-tool .. with tapping and other standard operations as the secondary option. Our favorite tool comes from Emuge Corp. … which also has outstanding field support BTW … and combines drilling, countersinking and thread milling in one tool … quickly illustrated below.

thriller

But rather than yapping about all the benefits …we suggest watching the video link below … it tells the story way better than words.

Additional Information / Recommendation :

Tool Name / Manufacturer : Emuge Corporation – Thriller
Catalog / Brochure Link : http://emuge.com/media-resources/brochures-catalogs/4-fluted-solid-carbide-thrillers

Video Link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdOfHEzXMMA

Video Link : https://vimeo.com/6245960

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Turning : Groove / Turn Tools

For machining operations that include both turning and grooving … it oftentimes makes sense to combine those operations with one tool. Of course the type of material and type of groove machining play an important role here … but when possible, using a combination groove-turn tool can be very beneficial and efficient. Eliminating the tool change and related non-cutting time can improve cycletime … but the flexibility of the tool opens up a wide variety of machining options as well … beyond just grooving operations.

iscar

As the illustration above shows … machining operations such as PARTING OFF … GROOVING … BACK TURNING … and STANDARD TURNING are all possible with this tool type.

Additional Information / Recommendation :

Tool Name / Manufacturer : ISCAR – Groove-Turn

Catalog / Brochure Link : http://www.iscar.com/eCatalog/Applications.aspx?mapp=TG

Video Link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXhEtc1zl4w

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 Turning : Boring with an Indexable Drill

In certain non-turning tool applications … it is possible to utilize the same indexable drill used to drill a hole as a boring bar to open up the hole diameter. Benefits of course include decreased cycletime and the use of less tools … but this should be considered carefully and success involves many factors. As stated many times in our blog … we recommend Sandvik tooling quite often … and they have a great online resources that delves into this type of machining and the options to consider before giving it a go in the link below … just click the image to open up their information page :

sandvik

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Of course there are thousands of ways to use standard type tooling as a multi-function tool … and we are sure that your machinist mind has come up with some novel ones along the way. But we felt the need to include at least some of the more “common” options in any conversation about shop efficiency. So there you have it. Some food for thought … and some multi-function tooling options you may not have been aware of or considered.

Estimating

Please come back for our next installment in our series on Shop Efficiency.

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Shop Efficiency Series Part 4 : Re-Thinking Your HEIGHT OFFSET Strategy

As we have been stressing throughout this Shop Efficiency Series … keeping your spindle running and the green cycle light lit is one of the main keys to making money and profits. In Part 4 we’re going to shift our attention back to the VMC and HMC world and send out some thoughts regarding Tool Height Offsets … “touching off” tools … and how to get that inevitable task done quickly, easily and efficiently … so that the spindle stays running and the tools gets in the chip.

Tool breakage or the need to replace dull or ineffective tools can cause huge loss of cutting times and spindle on time. With the implementation of the simple system we outline below … you can insure that replacing or setting up your tools for machining can be done quickly and efficiently with as little disruption to cutting time as possible. There are some initial costs involved … but the ROI is fast and you’ll see the results immediately.

We’ll take you through the Set-Up and Process first to show you how it works … then highlight some of the Features and Benefits that can achieved by utilizing this system. The basic idea is to utilize a MASTER TOOL to set the part Z0 position … and use the HEIGHT OFFSETS to calibrate the distance difference from the MASTER TOOL and EACH CUTTING TOOL. This system leaves us only the MASTER TOOL to re-calibrate for each workpiece … and allows us to leave the cutting tools unchanged no matter what part we’re running. Setting up ONE tool is obviously faster than setting up multiple tools.

What You’ll Need :

  1. Height Gauge … digital gauge will obviously function the best.
  2. Master Tool ( more details below )
  3. Tool Holder Adapter or Setting Fixture

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The Master Tool :

In order to utilize the features of this system, you’ll need to create a MASTER TOOL. What we refer to as a master tool would be a piece of stock, say a piece of turned, ground and polished stock or drill rod loaded and secured into a tool holder. It should be secure in the holder … the best way is with a shoulder butting against the tool holder face so it has a positive stop. Another feature is to make this master tool close to the length of the machine specs longest tool. This way you’ll know that no cutting tool can be longer than this master tool.

Tool Holder Adapter or Setting Fixture :

Once you have created your stable Master Tool … the next stable component should be your setting fixture. With a little thought and work you can turn a standard tool tightening fixture … such as the ones pictured below … into something suitable for this purpose … with the main criteria being the stable repeatability of the tool holder positioning.

fixture_complete

The Process :

On a surface plate, set up your height gauge and tool holder adapter to allow for the measuring of your tools. To measure a tool :

  • Place the MASTER TOOL in the setting fixture and set zero at the top of the master tool.

tip10-pic2

  • Place a cutting tool to be measured in the setting fixture and record the reading at the top of the tool’s cutting edge. This is the distance from the master tool tip to the cutting tool tip. This dimension is the value that is to be entered in the machines height offset table for the measured tool.

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  • Repeat the second step above for each tool to be measured, recording the value on the height gauge for each tool.
  • Load the tools in the magazine and enter the measured height offset values from Step #2 above into their respective height offset table positions.
  • Using the MASTER TOOL, touch the Z0 surface of the workpiece and record the value from the home position to the Z0 location. This value should be entered in the Z table for the work offset (G54 – G59) to be used in the program.

That’s it. 

Your program is ready to run. Your program will call up the G54 – G59 work offset or similar and will know the distance from the master tool to the Z0 location. Using the H value call in the program, the machine will calculate the difference between the master tool and the measured tool and adjust as required.

Now that we’ve set the thoughts and ideas in your mind … feel free to deviate and expand on the basics outlined here.

 Some Features and Benefits :

  1. Let’s suppose you’re going to set up a new job next but will utilize some of the tooling from the previous job. The only set-up required is to use the Master Tool to touch the new Z0 surface, changing the value in the work offsets with this new value. Your cutting tools and their height offsets can remain the same. Save time by touching off one tool instead of many.
  2. You can set-up a spare tool or replacement tool off the machine using the master tool and the height gauge … insuring that your spindle will be back in the cut faster.
  3. You can load say a nice cutting carbide mill in the magazine and use it for a variety of different jobs. No need to touch it off all the time, just use the master tool to get your work offset in Z.
  4. Measuring tools becomes easier, allowing more people to assist with the tool setting . Setters don’t need to know how to operate the machine.

From experience, once you try this method you’ll find it saves you all kinds of time. The best advantage is being able to call out set tools that stay in the magazine. This really speeds up the set-up and changeover process.

Stay tuned for more posts in our Shop Efficiency Series.
Next up we’ll take a look at MULTI-FUNCTION tools that can perform multiple types of cutting and save your shop a ton of time in the process.

Conversational

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.