Rethinking Standard One-Offs

For many small shops, shopping for a costly new tool to produce a single workpiece with an uncertain reorder prospect does not make sense. Instead, production engineers look at the part print and settle for the cutter already in the tool crib or carousel, and estimators bid work based on the tooling their shops use as standard. When Orchard Lake Machining decided to try a new tool from Ingersoll Cutting Tools for a one-off application, however, it led to a new standard used throughout the shop floor.

The busy, four-man shop in Williamsburg, Michigan, specializes in machine components for the oil and gas industry. There, three machinists try to keep five CNC machines running 10 hours a day, five days a week on a variety of small-lot and one-off jobs. One such job required heavy contour-milling of 302 stainless. Initially, the shop used its standard IC mill inserts; however, these inserts usually ruptured about 10 minutes into the cut. Often, the first edge fractured, which rendered the second edge useless. Retooling with a Di-Pos Tetra mill from Ingersoll (Rockford, Illinois) extended edge life to more than two hours per edge and eliminated all rupturing. This ensured eight full hours in the cut per insert. “We now index the insert only due to gradual flank wear and loss of finish, never for anything catastrophic,” says owner and CNC manager Jay Johnson.

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