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one area of particular importance: the ability to accurately cut to net shape. When working with the large molds they were becoming known for, tolerances had to be minimal, since in large molds with multiple parts any tolerance error quickly adds up. The company determined that the ability to accurately and reliably cut to net shape would signifi cantly reduce bench time for hand fi nishing mold components, resulting in quicker turnaround time and cost effi ciencies for both the company and its customers.


At the outset of their purchase research, Mike Hetherington, vice president of operations, and President Robert Franchino spent 18 months studying new machining technologies. During the research, they worked closely with Single Source Technologies (SST), which provides machine tools, engineering services, tooling, supplies, application support and customer service to local manufacturers. Hetherington even traveled with SST representatives to Makino’s assembly plant in Japan to learn fi rsthand about how the machines are built and to better understand their capabilities. The Franchino team later challenged SST with test cuts on complex workpieces that had to be held to tolerances of ±0.0002" (0.005 mm). Not only did SST and Makino engineers successfully produce the parts on an F5, but they also offered recommendations for process improvements. These process improvements were possible because the F5 is designed to provide stiffness and rigidity for chatter-free cutting, as well as agility and accuracies for tight-tolerance blends and matches needed for complex, 3D-contoured geometry. Franchino purchased two F5 machines, and quickly realized the improvement of the Makinos over their older machines. “The components come right off the machines and fi t right into a pocket. We don’t have to fi t them. They will go in the fi rst time,” said Scott Pollok, a CNC programmer and team leader in Franchino’s F5 area. Soon after the initial purchase, Franchino then purchased a second set of F5 machines—and then a third set months after that, bringing its total to six F5 machines. As Franchino pur- chased each pair of F5s, the company’s operators attended a


An operator prepares to run the Makino F5. An operator prepares to run the Makino F5.


week-long training program at Makino’s Die/Mold Technologies Center in Auburn Hills, MI. The company learned to operate the new machines and also discovered best practices for program- ming. “We got a different perspective on what we had been doing for years,” Pollok said. “We improved surface fi nish by changing how our programs cut based on what their [Makino’s] engineers taught us.”


Repeatable Tolerances One of Franchino’s goals in upgrading their small vertical mills was to improve the reliability of untended and lights- out machining, especially during its second shift. Previous


57 — Motorized Vehicle Manufacturing 2017


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