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Gaining an Edge with Tooling

by editor 19. April 2016 14:23

Gaining an Edge with Tooling

Nearly 20 years ago, when I was programming my first CNC, I had a chance to have a tooling rep come out to my shop and share his knowledge with me. At the time I was running a large batch of parts that each took about 40 minutes to mill on the machine. He handed me a sample tool to mount in the CNC and try out. Once it was set up he told me the feed rate and rpm to use. I was convinced that the bit would simply snap, but he said, “It’s my tool, so don’t worry about it.” That tool, the first spiral bit I had seen, did not snap, and literally reduced my program run down to 15 minutes per piece.

This is where I first came to appreciate the value of choosing the right tooling. It is where the work gets done. Where the “rubber meets the road”, and using the wrong tool for the job is like putting street tires on a race car. You will end up in a ditch.

Tooling companies spend a tremendous amount of time and money on developing the blades and bits that they sell, and there is a surprising amount of science that goes into making them. The good news for you is that while you need to be aware of the value of proper tooling, you do not need to spend a lot of your limited time educating yourself. You have the option of building relationships with experts in the field.

Tooling dealers who stock a variety of manufacturer’s brands are a great source of expertise you can tap into. They may be a bit more expensive to buy from, but they can save you a ton on money in the long run because they know what is out there and save you the time of chasing down specialty cutters you may need, leaving you free to do what you do best.

Manufacturer’s reps can also be highly valuable. Yes, they represent one brand and want you to buy their brand, but they are often available to visit your shop, watch what you are doing as you do it, and even let you try out different tools before you buy them. 

A third option is to maintain a relationship with your equipment manufacturers. The folks who make and sell expensive equipment have a vested interest in their customers being well satisfied with their machines, and they know all too well that the wrong tooling can effect this satisfaction. 

What does all this have to do with “The Magic of Custom Tooling” seminar at IWF this year? It’s simple. Unless you recognize how big an impact choosing the right “off the shelf” tools can be for your business, it is a lot harder to see how much there is to be gained through the use of custom tooling. It goes way beyond matching profiles.

Submitted by: Ralph Bagnall, Owner: ConsultingWoodworker.com

 

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