Manufacture in the USA to Save Cost and Increase Quality

April 4, 2012

Command Tooling Systems, in Ramsey, MN, was faced with the challenge to reduce the cost of manufacturing cutting tool holding systems and at the same time increase productivity, and improve quality. Beginning in 2008, Command Tooling changed its investment strategy by implementing multi-tasking machines into the manufacturing area where the machining of soft alloy steel is done prior to sending products to subcontractors for heat treatment processes. To accomplish this task, Command Tooling considered several multi-tasking machines and a variety of automation solutions to accompany this machinery. This manufacturing concept would allow for continuous production with minimal process supervision. Personnel focus on process set-up, material loading and moving finished products to subsequent operations. Each automated cell had to be designed to suit the specific products being machined. 

     Command Tooling Systems manufactures shrink-fit, DIN standard Steep taper, HSK, precision Swiss-style tooling and many other special application tooling systems. In addition, Command Tooling offers Urma boring and reamer products, as well as driven   and static tooling manufacture by its parent company, EWS located in Uhingen, Germany.

     To manufacture large Steep taper and HSK toolholders that require large diameter material, Command Tooling chose the Mori Seiki NT4250 DCG1500 with rigid design construction featuring a direct drive, high torque spindle motor that is   oil cooled. The machine is fitted with a 100-station high speed t changer, automatic probing, an integrated CAM tools embedded in the machine control. Fast X and Z-axis traverse rates are achieved with high output motors. The 400 mm octagonal RAM, 16.5” of Y-axis spindle movement and B-axis rotation range of +/- 120 degrees are suited for multi-task machining. The 25 HP spindle motor is capable of running at 12,000 RPM. The MAPPS III control includes collision protection. The machine has high-pressure coolant capable of more than 1,000 PSI. This machining cell is equipped with an overhead FANUC robot traveling on a rail. The robot is fitted with an integrated positional vision system. The robot’s camera locates available raw material, and guides the robot to the correct position for retrieval. Material is inserted into the machine envelope automatically; finished parts are extracted, and carefully placed on outbound carts.

     Another productivity enhancement added to the machine is the quick- change tooling system manufactured by EWS in Germany Varia quick-changing system is available for customers through Command Tooling System With an impressive quantity of resident tools, and the Command/EWS Varia quick-change turret tooling, the Mori Seiki machine is capable of manufacturing small batch orders efficiently. This allows for the manufacture of custom products with minimal machine set-up or change over. This includes tool holders with specialized shank features, non-standard gage lengths, exotic alloys, and other features not offered in Command’s standard product catalog that are manufactured for minimal delivery lead-time. “Command designs and manufactures a variety of special quality products. With our new Mori Seiki cell, we offer these tools at a competitive price,” said Chuck Berg, Chief Operations Officer of Command Tooling Systems.

     A Mazak Varia axis 500- 5X-III 5-axis machining center was chosen by Command Tooling to manufacture complex housings for a new line of driven tools for Swiss turning centers. The product was introduced to the market in 4th quarter 2011. The 40-tool magazine includes automatic tool length measuring and break detection. The machine includes a chiller unit to prevent thermal expansion of the 18,000 RPM spindle and high feed rate ball screws, and 1,000 PSI high-pressure coolant is available through the spindle and remotely. “The Mazak Varia axis has the capability to fabricate tight tolerance critical parts in a single operation quickly,” said Mr. Berg. 

     To manufacture smaller toolholders Command Tooling chose an Okuma LT300 and added an ABB IRB 4400 robot to create a fully automated cell. A Toellner gravity loader is located on the right side of the machine with two pallet arrays for finished products on the left side of the machine. Each array holds 54 finished parts. The cell includes features to aid in-process inspection. At any time, a command can be initiated instructing the ABB robot to place a part on a conveyor allowing the safe removal of a sample without interrupting the production process. The Okuma LT300 also includes the Varia quick change tooling system, allowing for efficient machine change over.

     “Automated systems have reduced costs, and eliminated quality issues that can occur due to multiple setups,” said Bahti Hanedar, Chief Financial Officer at Command Tooling Systems. “Significant cycle time and setup time reduction allows us to be competitive in the world market—offering products that are made in USA. These advancements coupled with our commitment to service have made our products a logical choice for our customers,” said Mr. Hanedar.