The addition of a new machine can be exciting for a metalworking business. It signals progress and growth while giving the team something new and exciting to work and experiment with. In order to make the most of this investment, however, don’t overlook the tools used in the new machine tool.
When someone buys a machine tool, they’re usually thinking about things like speed, axis movement or the speed of the toolchanger. It’s understandable. These upgrades can take seconds or minutes out of cycle time. But in order to take full advantage of its capabilities, the right tooling is needed to unlock a machine’s full capability and satisfy customer needs. Here is some of our best advice for making the most of a new machine tool with the right tooling.
Would you put discount tires on a Ferrari? Probably not. So why invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a machine and then dedicate a tiny percentage of that expenditure to tools? Your existing toolholders may appear to be in good condition to the naked eye, but nearly any imperfection will find its way to the spindle of a machine that’s fresh off the truck.
During a recent shop visit, we saw a highly reputable machine known for its best-in-class accuracy that had been installed just weeks before. The shop had 60 tools in a 300-capacity magazine and wanted to fill in some of the empty spots. The tools already in the machine were inexpensive and unlicensed. The customer thought these were the right choice because they were about a third of the price of the licensed BIG-PLUS tools the OEM recommended.
One look revealed that the toolholders were fretted on the side because of improper grinding. When the machine was run, the spindle was damaged. The shop had to buy a whole new spindle for a million-dollar machine that was only weeks old.
In other words, do your homework, communicate openly and ask questions of those you’re working with during the machine purchase. If you do, you’ll get what you expect out of your capital investment, avoid unnecessary expenditures and realize significant cost savings over the life of the machine tool.
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