For years we have been cutting threads out of brass and stainless steel rods for our slip ring assemblies. Our process starts with cutting or shearing the rods and then using a Brown & Sharpe threading machine. This manual process has required multiple operators to complete orders. Our continued growth at United Equipment Accessories (UEA) has made it necessary for us to look for ways to upgrade and streamline our processes while keeping our high quality standards in place. Many new processes have been implemented over the past year and the most recent is the addition of a DMG Mori Sprint 20/5 Swiss-style machine with a twelve-foot bar-feeder for our rod department.
During the implementation of the machine, we have worked closely with DMG Mori to bring this machine online in a timely manner. DMG Mori has a tech center in Iowa, which allowed us to have an Application Engineer help us write the programs and set up the machine to cut our threaded rods before we put the machine into production. The programs use many variables, but it has four variables that our operator will be able to change to control our overall part length, thread lengths, and part count, which allows the operator to complete other job duties while the machine is running.
Implementing a Swiss-style machine has been a learning curve for our machining and engineering departments. A Swiss-style machine uses a sliding headstock instead of a chuck, like a conventional lathe. The sliding headstock moves the material instead of the tool on the Z-axis, which allows our operators to cut our small stock sizes at longer lengths. The guide bushing is the heart of the machine, as it guides the material into the cut. This is why it is so important that we size the guide bushing to our ground stock. Using ground stock with a guide bushing will allow us to hold tolerances that we only would only have dreamed about with our manual machines.
The tooling that we choose is also important to have this machine be successful and productive. As with any new machine or process, testing is vital. Working alongside our tooling suppliers, we are working on doing multiple test cuts with different styles of turning inserts and die inserts. We are always looking for new technologies in the tooling world to help us save time in our cuts while keeping to the quality standards that we set and stand by.
The machine has been in production now for a few months and we have completed multiple training sessions with many operators. In addition to testing and fine-tuning the machine, it is important that we have operators crossed trained on multiple machines to back fill. All of our operators have learned how to switch the machine over depending on what size of material they are running, how to adjust the program for whatever part number they are running, and how to maintain the machine so we can minimize downtime.
This new machine has allowed us to build in more efficiencies to save time and we look forward to finding, testing and implementing more technologies, processes, and innovations at UEA.
Manufacturing & Process Development Engineer