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Balance: A Critical Part of Continuous Improvement

This machine shop didn't fully recognize the importance of balancing toolholders until they lost a spindle and realized that balancing is not a luxury – it’s a necessity.

JD Machine Corporation (Ogden, UT) has been providing their clients with high value machined parts, sheet metal components, complex assemblies and high quality manufacturing services since 1979, driven by a corporate culture of continuous improvement that stresses a daily effort to strengthen every facet of the business for better results. They had grown unhappy with the size capacity and reach of the machinery they had on their shop floor and decided to make a wholesale change and invest in some high speed machine tools with 20,000 rpm spindles and a wide variety of toolholders. Their machine tool dealer specified an HSK taper and highly recommended that they look into a shrink fit system, which led them to go shopping at the IMTS trade show.

“Their reputation led us to their booth,” said Chris Peterson, the director of engineering at JD Machine, referring to Haimer USA, LLC (Villa Park, IL). “But it was the wide range of machines they offered that really caught our eye. The other companies we looked at had one or two models. With them we were able to select a model that gave us the performance we needed at a price that fit our budget.” The engineering team was also impressed by the fact that Haimer toolholders and shrink fit technology can easily shrink high speed steel, something that other systems can’t do. A bonus was the elimination of cleaning processes for collets and torque specs for collet chucks or mill chucks. “We are not big fans of ER collets,” noted Peterson. “If we could, we would shrink everything.”

After a high speed spindle failed that ran into the $25,000 to $50,000 price range, Peterson and his team did an extensive analysis on the situation and determined this was unacceptable. Their toolholders from Haimer were balanced, but the shop was using a variety of other units that were not, and the consensus was that balance was the probable cause of the failure. “I don’t think we fully realized the importance of balancing tools prior to losing that spindle and starting to scientifically study the reasons why it failed,” added Peterson. “This situation made us realize that balancing is not a luxury – it’s a necessity.”

In general, if something doesn’t look or sound right, most operators will slow down the machine by default. As a result, many shops operate slower than they could otherwise because they don’t have balanced tooling. “Since we installed the balancing unit from Haimer, we’ve seen a much higher metal removal rate through improved speeds,” explained Peterson. “The harmonics sound better, so you feel comfortable to turn the machine up and push it harder. We also saw a big difference in the quality of finish.”

He points out that there have been no spindle failures in the six years since the shop installed the balancing unit. “We just didn’t realize all the implications that balancing has on the applications we run,” concluded Peterson. “It even keeps us from eating up tools when machining titanium and also gives us excellent results with helical interpolation of holes.”

JD Machine Corporation, 2744 N 1600 W, Ogden, UT 84404, 801-782-4394, www.jdmachine.com.

Haimer USA, 134 E Hill Street, Villa Park, IL 60181, 630-833-1500, Fax: 630-833-1507, www.haimer-usa.com.

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