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Sales Call: The Right End Mill Cuts Cycle Time for Aerospace OEM

End Mill

The Opportunity 

A contract aerospace manufacturer was supplying attachment brackets made from 17-4 stainless steel to a major aerospace company. They were being machined on a 40 taper horizontal machining center with 2 parts mounted to each tombstone. They were using a competitor’s end mill and the quality was okay, but tool life was short and the process was long. Cycle time was 1hour and 55 minutes per run. Our application specialist studied the operation and saw how the right tool and some toolpath tweaking could make a big difference. After a quick consultation, the customer authorized us to take the shot. 

GWS Action Plan

The customer was utilizing conventional milling strategies (slow speeds and feeds with heavy radial depths of cut) to machine the brackets. These parameters favored the competitor’s end mill. But this process was ultimately the cause for excessive cycle time and erratic tool life. To improve both, we shifted the customer to high speed machining processing, dramatically increasing speed and feeds while reducing radial step over. With the increased feed rates came the need for some toolpath reprogramming, which we were able to provide to the customer with the help of our in-house programming team. The new cutter path was programed in MasterCam using the Dynamic Milling option. With the proper toolpath and high speed running parameters, we could now apply the perfect tool for this application, a ¾ inch 7-flute Hurrimill end mill. Its heavy edge prep demands higher speeds to maximize performance, while variable helix geometry permit smooth and stable metal removal rates. 

The Results 

  • Cycle time was reduced by 46 minutes (1 hour and 14 minutes for 2 parts)
  • SFM increased from 250 to 550 with a 0.005″ chip load per tooth
  • Tool life was improved from 4 to 12 parts per tool (3X tool life)
  • Overall cost per part decreased 20%
  • Part quality remained high & tool life became predictable (no more sudden failures)

End Mill

The Bottom Line

Due to the relationship and level of trust with their application specialist, the customer was open to trying something new. They now have a higher level of production and efficiency at a considerable cost savings. 

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Gina Hong Learns Something About Custom Cutting Tools Every Day

Gina Hong has been a GWS Tool Group Machine Operator in our Springfield, Massachusetts plant for three and a half years. She’s a skilled maker of our custom cutting tools, and if you told her four years ago it’s where she would be, she probably would not have believed you.

Since she was undecided about going to college, Gina asked a tech instructor in her home town of Asnuntuck, Connecticut, about her next step. Recognizing her skills on the school’s old Bridgeport manual lathe, the teacher suggested she apply for a job with GWS while she made up her mind. It was an excellent piece of advice. Gina admits that she likes working here so much that college is still on the back burner.

“Can I Do This?”

Today, Gina runs a bank of four ANCA MX7 Linear CNC tool grinders. Taking dimensions from a paper print, she programs the machines via the control panel, loads a blank and monitors the run. While you wouldn’t know it today, Gina admits that during her first year, she was convinced she would never learn to do the job effectively. But for each error she made, she gained a piece of knowledge that could be used the next time to make a better product.

That education process continues to this day. “If I get a bad result, I can count on my experience to correct it,” she says. “But there’s always something new for me to learn.” For example, on a recent job, a 350 carbide end mill wasn’t matching spec after the run. Gina adjusted the wheel and checked the core and diameter. Finally, an engineer checked out the machine and found that a loose probe was causing the problem. “I filed that one away for the next time,” she said.

Mastering the Job

The variety of new challenges in each day is what keeps the job exciting for Gina. She may not know the exact nature of the next tooling puzzle to be solved, but she knows whatever it is, she will be ready to analyze the situation and come up with a viable solution.

Gina says her greatest accomplishment so far was mastering the job well enough to run independently. “I thought it was too hard at first, but I gave it a chance and found out I was much more capable than I had even imagined.”

Working for GWS

One of the things Gina likes about working for GWS is the constant flow of new technology into the shop. “The company isn’t afraid to spend money to keep us competitive and give our customers the best tools possible.”

Gina has a pretty full work schedule and says her job is enough of a challenge to satisfy her creative side. She doesn’t need to take on a hobby or participate in sports. “When I have the chance, I just like to relax with the television or hang out with my girlfriends.”

Looking for a Satisfying Career?

GWS Tool Group is on the cutting edge of custom cutting tools, and our facilities in Florida, Indiana, Michigan and Massachusetts are always looking for talented and driven individuals. If you’re curious about the perks and possibilities of a career here, read up on how you can join our team.

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GWS Takes Aim at Gummy Materials with PYSTL Series End Mills

Some materials just like to gum up the works. You know the ones we’re talking about–stuff like 303, 304 and 316L stainless steel, or Ti-6Al4V and other titanium alloys. These bad boys have a tendency to generate excessive heat at the contact area. This results in those long continuous chips that can weld on to the tool edge, giving you a poor finish, or worse yet, out of tolerance parts. And you can just imagine what that kind of heat does to tool life. All materials that fall into the “gummy” category require unique geometry if you want to mill them successfully. What’s the answer? Get your productivity back on target with the PYSTL (pronounced “pistol”) series end mills from GWS Tool Group.

Designed for Clean Cutting
The ability of the cutting edge to shear the work material with as little residual friction as possible after initial contact is critical in producing an end mill that will satisfy the tool life and metal removal demands of today’s manufacturers. That’s why PYSTL series end mills are designed with an array of purpose-built features that specifically address the gummy nature of the aforementioned materials, and others like them.

High Quality and Long Life
All PYSTL end mills incorporate full eccentric relief. This design element, combined with the right degree of relief, produces a cutting edge that is both rigid and free-cutting.

Other fundamental attributes built in to these end mills that make them ideal for gummy materials like 316L and 303 stainless are the unequal index design incorporated into the 4-flute and 5-flute models. This design element reduces vibration in machining operations by breaking up harmonic resonance that is prominent with end mills using equal spacing between each flute. Couple this design attribute with a tapered core, used across the entire series of PYSTL end mills, and you get an incredibly robust end mill that resists both vibration and deflection during machining.

Last, but not least, the series features a nano PVD coating that incorporates elements like aluminum and chromium for higher hardness, heat resistance and lubricity. Premium micrograin carbide is used for the base of this Ultimate Performance tool end mill line.

Pick Your PYSTL
The series, which includes 4, 5 and 7-flute end mills, is available in diameters 1/8” to 1-1/4” with radii from 0.010” to 0.250”. Our “PYSTL Grip” shank treatment, for added anti-pullout protection, is also available upon request.

Hit the Bullseye Every Time
If you are struggling with milling gummy, difficult-to-machine materials like 6Al4V-Ti, or are simply looking to possibly upgrade your current milling operation, give the PYSTL series end mills from GWS Tool a shot.

Contact Us today to find out more or sign up for our free Test Tool Program.

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Medtronic Turns Out Medical Parts Fast with GWS Innovations

Medtronic is among the world’s largest medical technology, service and solutions companies – serving physicians, hospitals and patients in more than 150 countries. As an industry leader in the area of biomedical engineering, the company was seeking a way to improve the process used to make their spinal implants.

Armando Ocasio, senior program project analyst at Medtronic, has a history of using GWS Tool Group products and the first call he made was to Josean Perez, technical specialist at Mahar Tool Supply, the distributor for GWS Tool Group products in Puerto Rico.

The Challenge
Spinal implants, made of PEEK (polyether ether ketone) material with a pressed in titanium pin, are used to help correct various issues in the spine, such as severe scoliosis. These implants have serrations on both sides of the implant to ensure that they stay in place when surgically inserted into the spine. Medtronic was producing these implants on index turret lathe machines, which they found to be slow and costly. A move to a swiss style lathe was in order. To do this, special tooling was needed.

Tomas Roman, director of inside sales at GWS and his team looked at the application and developed a progressive tooth form cutter to produce the entire serrated section in one cut. Samples were sent in a matter of weeks, along with complete engineering specifications and an explanation of how the tool should be run and why its design would yield better results.

The first iteration of the tool worked perfectly and created a flawless finish on the part. This was extremely critical to Medtronic because PEEK material is fragile and cannot withstand a lot of machining pressures. Armando was extremely impressed since other companies had tried to produce these types of tools and were not able to provide the same level of quality and reliability. He said the new process is much better than what they were using before.

The Art of Making Screws

Medtronic also is a high-volume manufacturer of bone screws, using a process called thread whirling. This method is mainly used in swiss style lathes, and employs a live cutter body that has multiple inserts encircling the bar stock. These cut the thread in one pass as the bar stock is rotated and pushed through the cutter. This is much faster than single point threading inserts which require multiple passes to accomplish the same task.

Each whirling insert is custom designed to match the actual thread form needed. To say these are complex to manufacture is an understatement. The rotation speed of the bar stock combined with the angle of the cutter (helix angle) and the feed rate (pitch of the thread) produces the desired thread form. The diameter of the bone screw will also dictate the design of the inserts due to the fact that the helix angle will change over different diameters, and the thread form on the inserts will have to be corrected as the helix angle changes.

Manufacturers like Medtronic use upwards of 50 or more proprietary designs, each of which are used for different bone screws. Over the years GWS has supplied over 90% of all the whirling inserts for the Medtronic Puerto Rico facility.

Other Insert Developments
GWS has also implemented a regrind program for the whirling inserts. Due to the large volume of inserts being used, GWS is able to offer this program to Medtronic, further reducing the overall cost of the bone screw production.

GWS has also been developing a new grade of whirling inserts. This new grade is called the Zombie Whirler – because you just can’t kill them, and they never seem to die. GWS has done testing in several applications and have had extremely good results, beating the competition by up to 2 times tool life and more. GWS is introducing the Zombie Whirlers into Medtronic to once again reduce the overall cost of the whirling process.

Improving the Break Off Set Screw
Once again GWS was called to improve another manufacturing process. This time it was a step drilling application. The Michigan division of GWS stepped in and designed a step drill that improved the current tool life by 30 to 45%. GWS was not happy with that, so the engineers at GWS went back to work and created a second version in just a few days that increased life over the previous mark by another 50%.This was achieved by implementing a new substrate and edge preparation along with a special Avatech coating. With a thickness of only 1.5 microns, this coating is ideal for drilling as the cutting edge remains sharp with out rounding or build up encountered with thicker coatings. In addition, elements in the coating are designed to enhance heat and wear resistance when machining.

GWS Stands Out
“GWS and Mahar support has always been top notch,” Armando said. “They come to us, walk around the machines, and tell us what we could be doing better, what needs to be changed or come up with a new tool that is a better fit for a situation.” This personal attention allows Medtronic to be in front of cutting-edge technology and provide superior products to their customers.

Do you have new application you need help with? Would you like to explore the enhancement of an existing tool to improve on a current process? Please contact us and we’ll discuss ways to save you time and money and increase performance.



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GWS Delivers Threading Tool Others Said Couldn’t Be Made

Each job in a CNC Swiss screw machine shop creates its own unique challenges and unforeseen issues. What Swiss Technologies of New England does is relentlessly seek new, innovative solutions to ensure that their customers receive the product they want. A perfect example is when a project for a high-end medical component came in house.

The Product Challenge
Clients in the medical, electronic, consumer, defense, business machines, ATM and other industrial markets all rely on Swiss Technologies for their component parts needs. Even with this background, the request for a 2mm broken screw extractor for surgical applications required them to live up to their reputation for innovation.

A broken tool extractor is a surgical instrument that is used to take out a screw from a bone that has a stripped or broken off head. The extractor comes in different size diameters to accommodate a variety of screw sizes and has an internal thread machined into the extraction tube to grab and pull the screw out of the bone.

It Can’t Be Done
Swiss Technologies’ Applications Engineer Jeremy Messier contacted a handful of tooling manufacturers, but no one could give him the threading tool he asked for. They consistently recommend single point turning. Jeremy wanted to thread mill an internal diameter (ID) using a custom cutter that was 0.05” in diameter with a 0.017” pitch. While some of the sample tools he received would work in 440C stainless, the actual component was being cut out of 440A, which is much harder to cut. As a result, the tool life of the samples was abysmal.

Challenge Accepted
GWS Application SpecialistAudrey Triplet was the only person Jeremy contacted that approached the project with an open mind. We quickly turned around a quote and an approval drawing on a custom internal thread mill cutter, something other manufacturers wouldn’t even do. Once Jeremy received the tools and gave it a try, he was astounded at the tool life. “I was hoping for 20 parts to come off the tool, we made 110 parts instead,” he said. Jeremy soon had the feeds and speeds dialed in to where there is no deformation to the part. “The finishes are nice, too,” he added.

A New Relationship
According to Jeremy, GWS has proven themselves to be easy to work with and very accommodating. “GWS not only delivered parts other custom tooling makers would not, they outperformed when they arrived,” he said. “We’re working together now to improve on the cycle time of the screw extractor by trying a multi flute thread mill.” Jeremy is also considering some thread whirler inserts to take advantage of the proprietary coatings we offer.

Swiss Technologies of New England has a tradition of innovation. So do we. It looks like this partnership will only grow in the future.

If you have an application that baffles other tooling manufacturers, please contact us. Let’s find a solution together.

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South-Tec 2017

It’s almost here! Join us tomorrow at South-Tec 2017

We’ll be at booth 2837.

We’re ready to give you an inside look on our high-performance cutting tools.

This year we’re also partnering up with Carbide Grinding. Check them out here! GW Schultz and Carbide Grinding will be showcasing tools and inserts and engineers will be standing by to field questions.

The HGW is a high-performance end mill designed for cutting hard alloys and tool steels. With unequal indexing and variable helix, the HGW lasts up to 30% longer than the competition.

See the HGW Series

The Alumigator, the next generation of high performance end mills that cuts through aluminum with ease, faster, stronger and longer lasting than other aluminum end mills. Customers have proven time and again that “you can’t outrun the Alumigator.”

See the Alumigator Series

The GWS Regrind program reconditions worn out, chipped and used tools back to new manufactured tool quality. Quick turnaround, inventory management and incredible quality can yield cost savings as high as 60% over the cost of new tools.

Learn More

Don’t have time to stop by? Contact us and we’ll give you the run-down on all of our tools and services.

Looking for digital copies of our catalogs? Get yours here.

October 24-26, 2017 at
South-Tec, Booth 2837
TD Convention Center, Greenville, South Carolina

Plan Your Visit