How many of you have any idea what your company spends on perishable tooling? Working for small companies with tight wad owners perhaps made me more aware of this than many other design engineers. In one instance the financial constraints we were under practically required a staff vote before we could buy a box of drill bits. Under these circumstances you look for ways to make things last a little longer.
After all, if it last twice as long it only cost half as much. There are side effects to seeking longer service life that can rival those of a television prescription drug ad though so one is wise to look at the big picture.
Back before coated cutting tools were available, high volume gear producers needed pallets full of hobs and shaper cutters delivered every months. It took some time to convince them that paying extra for that “gold” finish was worth it but once they did the demand for hobs plummeted. The same is true for other coated and high value cutting tools.
But many of the old practices for maximizing tool life seem to have been abandoned too. Where operators were once vigilant about shifting hobs to equalize the wear before sharpening, the coated hobs did not seem to “need” this adjustment to achieve a high number of parts per sharpening. Could you make the tool more productive by going back to frequent shifting? That is a money saving experiment waiting to happen.
Another way to reduce costs is to combine or eliminate operations. Everyone hates deburring; why not look at ways to stop making burrs in the first place? Or to take the burrs off while still in the hobber? Blowing chips out of holes is another thankless task yet how many shops do not try using roll taps that do not make the chips in the first place?
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