Optimum Workholding Increases Output

This investment casting company doubled production of a series of parts by incorporating workholding into a cell that keeps pallets constantly moving across the machine tool.

Article From: 5/1/2016 Modern Machine Shop, Russ Willcutt , Associate Editor from Modern Machine Shop Magazine

When Aero Metals bought a powerful new vertical machining center, it had more than the machine’s capabilities in mind. An adherent of the principles of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement, the investment casting company saw the purchase as an opportunity to create a machining cell that would perfectly suit its needs for producing a growing series of parts, and to do so more quickly, efficiently and ergonomically than what it had achieved to date. What it didn’t expect—but had certainly hoped for—was to see an increase in the machine’s uptime from somewhere around 40 percent on a good day to as much as 80 percent on average.

How was this achieved? By harnessing internal engineering resources with external workholding technology companies to create a cell that would allow for the fixturing of parts on quick-change pallets outside of the machine while it was busy cutting parts on other pallets. These repeatable, self-seating pallets placed the workpiece in the same location every time it was mounted, reducing setup times from hours to minutes. A specially designed trunnion table provides a fourth axis for additional machining agility and the ability to load multiple pallets at a time.

“One thing that sets us apart from other investment casting companies is that we make our own molds, mix our own metals, pour our own castings and then handle everything from machining to assembly,” says Ryan Hart, process engineer. “This workholding system has increased uptime and slashed setup times, allowing us to change jobs quickly and be more responsive to our customers’ needs.”

View entire article at the Modern Machine Shop Blog