A modular toolholding system from Horn USA Inc. (Franklin, TN) is helping Premier Industries (Minneapolis), a specialty part maker, cut cycle time by 65% and cost per part by 79% in manufacturing precision pressure regulators. Premier provides US-made, custom-designed specialty gas and hydraulic regulators, valves and systems to a variety of industries, including petrochemical, medical, food and beverage, and military.
The performance of Premier’s proprietary pressure regulators is especially critical in the difficult application environments of oil and gas, aerospace, and welding industries, as regulator outlet pressure determines downstream pressure. The precision manufactured parts are built to last and perform—made from a variety of materials and with tight tolerances throughout.
The designer and manufacturer needed a way to increase cycle times and improve surface finishes on custom, grooved pressure regulator parts. Premier found it in the Horn base holder for system 960 and modular grooving system 845, used on a Eurotech twin-spindle/twin-turret lathe. The application requires parting off 2.5″ (63.5-mm) diameter 316 stainless steel or aluminum into pieces, utilizing a 3.0-mm wide groove insert.
“The tooling system that we were using was running very slow and our finishes weren’t up to standard,” said Chuck Wimer, operations manager at Premier Industries. With the Horn tooling, “we went from cycle times of 1 min 40 sec per part to 35 sec per part, and cutting speeds went from 120 to 250 SFM [36–76 m/min]. Our finish improved consistently from 51–55 Ra to 11–16 Ra, and flatness went from 0.003 to 0.0035″ [0.08–0.089 mm] to 0.0001–0.0003″ [0.003-0.008 mm] across the 2.5″ [63.5 mm] diameter. The parts are straight to under 0.001″ [0.03 mm], so we are very pleased with the results,” Wimer stated.
With this approach, Premier also increased tool life from 25 parts per edge to 75 parts per edge, while reducing cost per part from $4.30 to $0.91. “This has had a huge impact on our operations and our bottom line,” added Wimer. “The solution is performing very well, actually better than we thought it would. We are vertically integrated, so after designing and producing the parts, we assemble and test them in our facilities. We have seen labor costs decrease in the downstream assembly phase simply because we’re working with better parts. The surface finishes and seals are excellent.”
In its product offering, Premier offers regulators with varying degrees of corrosion resistance, weights and strengths in sizes from 0.7 to 7.8″ (18–198 mm). Equipment versatility is important in a custom-product environment. “We’ve been pleased with flexibility we have with this system and its ability to process a wide variety of materials,” Wimer said. “We’ve cut diameters up to 2.75″ [70 mm]. Almost all of our parts are now touched by Horn tooling at some point.”
Horn’s modular grooving system 845 consists of a baseplate for turrets with a BMT or VDI connection, a height-adjustable grooving toolholder, and a matching cartridge range for various grooving widths and depths. The widths range in size from 0.047 to 0.157″ (1.2–4.0 mm) and the depths of cut range from 0.669 to 2.165″ (17–55 mm). This allows the system to part off material as large as 4.330″ (110-mm) in diameter to center using a 4-mm wide insert and allows for coolant to be delivered directly to the cutting zone.
The coolant delivery through the clamping finger increases tool life, aids in reducing crater wear, and cools the chip itself to influence chip breaking. Coolant delivery through the lower support reduces flank wear and aids in lubricating the sides of the tool while in the cut, resulting in a better surface finish on the component being cut off. If the customer is running high-pressure coolant, at pressures above 50 Bar or 725 psi, then the coolant pressure will be enough to prevent the formation of a vapor barrier at the cutting zone. At that point the coolant will be able to work in the cutting zone and provide even better results than the customer would see from a lower coolant pressure.
The grooving toolholders with integrated coolant supply allow the cartridge heights to be adjusted and adapters set in a normal or overhead position on the left or right of the grooving toolholder for maximum versatility.
Premier’s ability to consistently meet customer requirements is important to customer relationships, considering the “better, faster, cheaper” attitudes prevalent in manufacturing today. “The shorter cycle times and longer tool life that we got from the Horn system drove higher part volumes. This, combined with increased part quality and consistency, has allowed us to become even more important to our customers,” said Wimer.