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Walter Tool manufacturing technology helps generate solid success for SGS Carbide Tools

A battery of eight Walter multi-axis tool grinders and three Walter Helicheck tool measuring machines are at the heart of SGS Carbide Tool's new £6 million facility for the manufacture of special-purpose solid carbide rotary cutting tools. The 25,000 ft2 unit in Wokingham has been established to service growing demand from the company's expanding Europe-wide customer base.

The machines – supplied by WALTER Machines UK of Honiley near Kenilworth and installed progressively since SGS commenced tool manufacturing in the UK, to complement the activities of its North America-based parent – are the route to the cost-effective production of SGS's range of highly-accurate tools demanded by an ever-expanding client list, according to Manufacturing Manager, Mark Franklin.

“The efficiency and effectiveness of the Walter machines combine perfectly with the application of advanced tool coatings and our inherent design and development expertise,” he says, “for our continual improvement of high-performance yet cost-effective cutting tools for every type of material and in a wide range of applications.”

Indeed, while a stock of 150,000 or so tools valued at £3 million is held at the site to satisfy, if required, next-day delivery requests from clients in industry sectors such as automotive, aerospace, medical, motorsport, power generation and oil and gas, as well as precision engineering, the company's new European HQ in Berkshire also incorporates a Technical Centre for 'proving out' machining solutions.

The Centre houses a DMG/Mori Seiki DMU 50 five-axis machining centre for the testing of tools and machining strategies. The machine's working area is linked to a widescreen TV and the impressive 'viewing' technology even features 'freeze frame' views, when required, of events at the cutting edge.

Explaining that the Walter Helitronic tool grinders were initially installed “because we wanted to achieve better radii and ball noses than possible with our former machines”, Mr Franklin says the Walter machine investment tranche began with a MiniPower Production and Helitronic Power in the late '90s, then progressively (from 2004) involved five more Helitronic Power machines - three with Disc Loaders and two with both Robot Loaders and eight-wheel changers - plus the installation last year of a Helitronic Vision also with Robot Loader and 12-wheel changer.

The multi-axis Helitronic Vision features a mineral cast machine bed and gantry design, and provides a massive 30 kW of spindle power. Coupled with sophisticated drive technology plus synchronous linear motors for the linear axes and synchronous torque motors for the rotational axes, the machine generates unrivalled grinding times and superior surface finishes.

The Vision's Fanuc LR Mate 200iC/5L robot loader can handle workpieces 250 mm long and weighing 1.5 kgs, and it operates in conjunction with a four-pallet system that provides a storage capability of up to 1,500 workpieces (capacity can be optionally increased to 3,500 workpieces).

Mr Franklin continues: “The functionality of Walter's tool manufacturing technology is critical to the success of our business. For example, the benefits of automatic workpiece load/unload working in conjunction with pallet systems and auto wheel change are proving indispensable, especially in terms of unmanned/lights-out operation and, indeed, 24/7 production – in fact, I doubt if I'll ever buy another machine without a robot loader.

“In addition, the tool grinders' Tool Studio programming software is clearly the market leader in terms of its functionality and flexibility.”

The easy-to-use Tool Studio enables operators to quickly and easily create tool machining and movement sequences by, for example, harnessing Wizard functionality to add all appropriate machining parameters then to utilise 3D-simulation to check and, if necessary, optimise grinding operations. Importantly, Tool Studio seamlessly integrates the machines' robot load/unload facility.

A trio of Walter tool measuring machines are also in situ at SGS, for their in-process inspection capabilities and the generation of individual tooling certificates of conformity, including the latest installation (in 2011) of a Helicheck Pro. Capable of measuring tools and grinding wheel sets up to 200 mm diameter by 300 mm long, the four-axis Pro features a base of solid granite for the mounting of the three CCD cameras for front, back- and top-light measuring.

All Walter measuring machines are specified according to the VDI/VDE 2617 Directive and therefore the standard of length is traced back to the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and is defined as the E1 value plus the actual measuring length/300. The Helicheck Pro boasts an all-important E1 value of 1.4 and therefore ensures the best cost to measurement accuracy/repeatability ratio of any available tool measuring machine.

The progressive march forward by SGS continues unabated: plans are already in place to add PCD tooling to its remit – to complement the supply of milling cutters and drills under the brand names of Z-Carb, S-Carb, V-Carb, HiPer-Carb and Multi-Carb - and additional Walter tool grinding and measuring machines are on order to ensure that its capacity and capabilities continue to meet demand.

As well as another Helicheck Pro tool measuring machine, two additional tool grinders are to be installed: another Helitronic Power; plus a Helitronic Micro for the production of tools of 0.1 mm to 12.7 mm diameter –“which will be ideal for the manufacture of micro tooling as used in the medical industry”, concludes Mr Franklin.

Press release issued by Walter GB Ltd on May 21, 2013


 Contact details from our directory:
Walter GB Ltd Cutting Tools, Drilling Equipment, Boring Equipment, Tooling, Coatings, Milling
SGS Carbide Tool (UK) Ltd Tooling


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