Precision Hard Milling at Feintool Delivers Faster, Better and Lower Cost Results

THE CHALLENGE
With nearly 60 years of experience in the fineblanking market, Feintool is well known for fineblanked parts production, fineblanking presses, and technical expertise in supporting customers with the research and development and prototyping of fineblanking tools.

Due to the intense pressure of the fineblanking process, tooling used within Feintool’s presses are typically composed of 64 HRc hardened steel. Many of the tools also contain extremely fine features, such as small teeth, which require highly repeatable processes within 10 microns. For many years, Feintool was able to achieve this level of precision using only labor-intensive hand-finishing procedures.

Feintool recognized that in order to reduce lead-times, improve quality, grow capacity and reduce costs, the company needed to identify a precision hard-milling machine capable of exceeding customers’ tool requirements.  

THE SOLUTION
In 2008, working closely with Japanese colleagues, Feintool North America conducted rigorous testing with leading global machine tool suppliers. The test component was similar to the company’s existing orders, consisting of 64 HRc steel with numerous fine-tooth features. The results of the testing ended with Feintool’s acquisition of a Makino V33i vertical machining center.

Since this initial investment, Feintool’s business grew substantially. By 2014, customer demand had reached Feintool’s maximum capacity, which led the company to invest in a second V33i. The tool magazine on the second V33i was increased from 25 tools to 60 tools to support greater capacity and redundant tooling for extended, unattended machining operations. Feintool continued its expansion of hard-milling capabilities with a third V33i in 2015.

Feintool’s efforts to expand capacity also led to subsequent investments in preheat-treated machining capabilities. To reduce lead-times, decrease costs and gain more control over the toolmaking process, Feintool decided to eliminate outsourcing and invest in internal machining capabilities with the acquisition of three Makino PS95 vertical machining centers.  
 
THE RESULTS
Since investing in the V33i and PS95 vertical machining centers, Feintool has been able to reduce handwork by up to 30 percent, leading to less variability, greater labor efficiency, substantial cost reductions and a 40 percent increase in tool life during the stamping process.

As part of the company’s drive for continuous improvement, Feintool engineers have maximized machine utilization rates by increasing annual cutting hours on each V33i from 4,500 hours to 6,000 hours. Additional optimization to programming, cutting-tools and work holding have extended unattended machining times upwards of 12 hours, maintaining 10-micron repeatability throughout.

With the in-house capabilities of the PS95, Feintool has not only reduced lead-times for customers but also expedited prototyping to help customers get products to market faster. And by eliminating $500,000 a year in outsourcing expenses, the company is in a position to pay off all three PS95 machines in just one year.

Moving forward, Feintool continues to evaluate ways to reduce or eliminate long run times for processes such as jig grinding and electrical discharge machining (EDM). To date, the company has reduced sinker EDM processes by approximately 30 percent and wire EDM process by roughly 10 percent. Additionally, Feintool is evaluating ways that it can use the V33i machines for time-intensive jig-grinding processes.