Better Tooling Improves Product
Waukesha Cutting Tools manufactures a line of cutters, holders, adapters, heads, boring bars, extensions, shanks and reducers at its factory, which houses dozens of machining centers and machine tools. The tooling systems deployed in the machining centers are used to hold cutting tools to cut tool flutes, insert pockets and drilling cooling holes.
"We were having some difficulties with our machine operations because the in-house tooling we used had deficiencies. So we decided to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the available products on the market," says Kevin Maples, Waukesha Cutting Tools production manager.
According to Maples, the company was looking for tooling that could better hold tolerance than its current tooling, would require little or no maintenance and would last a long time. Production capacity and product line breadth was also important. "We naturally wanted the hard facts on the company's product line. Because we manufacture so many different styles of cutting tools, it was absolutely essential for us to seek a major manufacturer who could keep pace with our needs," says Maples.
In addition, Waukesha Cutting Tools also placed a premium on solid support. The company wanted a supplier that had "good application assistance, responsive inside tech and sales personnel and was carried by solid local distribution," Maples relates.
An extensive 9-month search led to the selection of Nikken Tooling, provided by master distributor Heartech Precision Inc. (Elk Grove Village, IL) and its local distributor, PDQ Tooling Inc. (St. Francis, WI).
Solid local distribution at competitive prices were major factors in the selection, as was tool integrity, ease of maintenance, and longer tool life, Maples says Nikken tooling is carburized heat treated and undergoes a proprietary cryogenic treatment at -90 C for austenitic depletion. This process results in better stability, especially at high speed machining, as well as longer tool life and improved surface texture.
But there was also one other factor which helped swing the choice, Maples says, namely, the appearance of the tooling. "We're all machinists around here and the Nikken tooling simply looked the best to us. Obviously, performance was the key, but their tooling had an aesthetic appeal, which made a difference to us," says Maples.
Performance has been continuously monitored since the change-over. "In conjunction with other changes we've made in our system, the in-plant cutting tool program has realized dramatic cycle time reductions, in some cases 50% or more, as a result of the Nikken tooling being utilized," says Maples.
Heartech Precision Inc./Nikken Tooling