Lowell, Inc. Reduces Part Fallout with Tsugami LaserSwiss

Challenge: Overcoming 10% part fallout with traditional manufacturing processes
Machining Solution: SS327-III-5AX LaserSwiss
Result: Reduce part fallout to less than 1%
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Lowell, Inc., a leader in medical device manufacturing, explains how they use their Tsugami SS327-5AX LaserSwiss to reduce part fall out and automate their manufacturing process.

Challenge: Looking to consolidate multiple operations around the shop for a family of parts

Machining Solution: SS327-III-5AX, B0386-III

Result: Moved 5 operations to one machine with drastic cycle time reduction

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Paramount Machine in Salt Lake City, Utah, is dedicated to thinking outside the box. This mentality stems from management who, despite the rapid growth of the shop, nurtures the small shop feel and shares the success with their crew. It continues through the industries they serve: defense, medical, and other niche categories like snow-making equipment.

Eric Van Orden and Skot Roach in front of the Tsugami SS327-5AX

Eric Van Orden, Screw Machine Lead and Turning Technical Advisor for Paramount Machine, has been with the shop for ten years and acts as a champion of change, especially when it comes to finding creative solutions to improving shop processes. 

Van Orden was tasked with upgrading the process for a family of x-ray component parts. “Our original process featured two operations on a chucking lathe, a mill operation, and then it went to the wire EDM operation, and then back to the mill for another operation,” said Van Orden. To cut down on the number of operations, Paramount Machine decided to look at Swiss machines with lathe and mill capabilities. “We wanted to look at a CNC Swiss machine to be capable of manufacturing this part so we could go from the Swiss to the EDM and then ship this part.”

After looking at multiple solutions, Paramount Machine landed on the Tsugami SS327-5AX, a 32 mm, B-Axis Sliding Headstock Swiss-Type Lathe. The B Axis and Y2 capabilities on the SS327-5AX set the machine apart from other machines in its class. “The highest volume part that we were looking to make in this part family has a straight hole drilled through it, but there is a wide variety of parts which feature angled holes,” explains Van Orden. “We knew that utilizing the B Axis on the SS327-5AX would allow us to see the same reduction in cycle among the entire family of parts.”

How much cycle time can you really save by consolidating operations? According to Van Orden, “We were able to replace three separate machine cycles with one Swiss process, and the overall part cycle times were reduced by 92%. Not only was this a dramatic time savings for us, but it also eliminated the need for parts whip throughout the shop.”

Van Orden acknowledges this reduction in time was also due to his partnership with ESPRIT CAM software. He had used their software to program other machines in the shop, so when the new Tsugami hit the floor, he decided to use their SS327-5AX post. “We started with a different swiss machine in our shop that did not come with any software like Tsugami’s Abile. However, the Tsugami/Rem Sales team complimented how well ESPRIT integrates with their machines,” commented Van Orden.

“Our goal is to create a full solution that doesn’t end at making toolpath in the CAM system, rather ends with machine-optimized G-code that will run error-free on your machine,” commented Nick Zentil, Director of North American Sales for ESPRIT. “When you get into a more complex machine tool, like the Tsugami SS327-5AX, you need a post-processor that allows you to access the machine’s full capabilities. We work very closely with the Tsugami/Rem Sales applications team to develop posts for Tsugami machines that do exactly what they are supposed to, make edit free code.”

“I have complete confidence that as long as I set the tools correctly in ESPRIT, I can take that code, post it out and put it in the machine and run it without any issues,” praised Van Orden.

Redd Bradshaw and Cuong Tran in front of the Tsugami B0386-III

This massive time savings, courtesy of the SS327-5AX, acted as a catalyst in changing the way of thinking at Paramount Machine. “Instead of looking at jobs and thinking ‘this is a lathe part’ or ‘this is a mill part,’ we have been experimenting with moving conventional lathe parts to our Tsugami machines,” Van Orden emphasizes. “Tsugami machines can hold better tolerances and finishes better than our traditional processes. We found we can set up and switch between jobs on the Tsugami pretty quickly, especially with the ability to be in Chucker Mode. There is an immediate reduction time due to the nature of the 2-path control.” 

“Customer needs are always changing and being able to adapt is essential. For example, we noticed many of our existing customers had increased their lot sizes from 30-40 pieces to a couple hundred. We are also seeing an influx of new customers who are looking for 30-50 pieces, and we actually just purchased a Tsugami B0386-III, a 38mm machine, for these larger diameter, shorter run projects.”

“The Tsugami/Rem Sales staff is exceptional,” said Van Orden. “I can call John Traver anytime, and he is always willing to help. If he can’t answer a question, he knows where to find the answer.”

“I worked on our applications engineering team before moving into sales,” said John Traver, Regional Sales Manager for Tsugami/Rem Sales. “I love working with customers like Eric that allow me to get involved with their projects and allow me to use my engineering background.”

It is not just the sales team that has made an impression on Van Orden. “Recently, we damaged the way cover on our sub side while in the middle of a project that was pretty hot. We called the parts team over at Tsugami/Rem Sales right at closing to see how quickly we could get a replacement part out so we could safely continue running the machine. Not only did they have a replacement in stock, but a member of the team drove the part to UPS on their way home so it would arrive to us the next day. We received the part first thing the following morning, and we were back up and running pretty quickly.”

 “The first time I met John, he joked that you can’t just have one Tsugami, they multiply,” joked Van Orden. We have purchased a new Tsugami almost every year since 2015, and Tsugami is constantly in the conversation in the machines we should look at.”


Challenge: Overcoming 10% part fallout with traditional manufacturing processes

Machining Solution: SS327-III-5AX LaserSwiss

Result: Reduce part fallout to less than 1%

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Lowell, Inc., a leader in medical device manufacturing, explains how they use their Tsugami SS327-5AX LaserSwiss to reduce part fall out and automate their manufacturing process.

Challenge: Keep up with demand and also yield a great finish on the fasteners

Machining Solution: M08SY and B0325

Result: Increase Throughput by 7X

Location: Broken Arrow, OK

Click here to download the full article.

Smith Precision Products is a well-known manufacturer of high-performance automotive components for racing vehicles, including brakes, rotors, nuts, bolts, fasteners, chassis components, and more. Company owner Stevie Smith spent over 30 years as a 410 sprint car driver amassing over 80 World of Outlaws wins and in 2019 was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall-of-Fame. It was during his driving career that he discovered titanium bolts typically used for aerospace applications made his cars lighter and faster. He began modifying aircraft bolts and selling them to race car dealers and eventually directly to racers.

As Stevie’s career evolved, he acquired a small aerospace manufacturing company and started investing in his operation with CNC, screw machine, and thread rolling capabilities to bring titanium components to a wider market of racers. Today, Smith Precision Products supplies parts to a diverse range of racing vehicles including sprint cars, dirt midgets, dirt late models, modifieds, micro-sprints, trucks, funny cars and drag cars.

As the racing market became more educated on the benefits of titanium components, Smith’s company began to grow. As a smaller shop, Smith found that the demand for his products began to outpace the production capabilities of his operation. While he was able to satisfy customers by outsourcing a portion of production, he wanted to increase throughput potential under his own roof. Smith was curious if an investment in new machine technology was the answer. He attended an open house event at the Hartwig office in Tulsa, where he learned more about the capabilities of Swiss style lathes.

For Smith’s applications, precision, strength, and looks were all important. Racers not only want to win, but they want to look good doing it. He needed machines that could keep up with demand and also yield a great finish on the fasteners.

To address these concerns, Smith purchased a Tsugami M08SY and a Tsugami B0325. “Hartwig took care of changing out some of the tooling on the machines to suit our applications,” Smith said. “Both machines were delivered and set up quickly.”

Smith’s team faced a learning curve when getting the Swiss lathe up and running, so Tsugami sent representatives to Smith’s shop to help them learn how to operate it.

Once the B0325 and the M08 were up and running, Smith saw an enormous surge in the amount of parts the shop was able to produce.

Traditional CNC machines can only work on one side of a part at a time. The M08’s versatility and sturdiness also began to provide benefits. “We like the heaviness of the M08, it’s our go-to machine because we can take a big part and run 50 pieces, or run a prototype and then go right back into running production,” Smith said.

The Results The combination of the B0325 and the M08 allowed Smith Precision Products to go from making 500 parts per week in house to over 3,500 parts per week—a 7x increase in throughput without adding additional operators to the team.

“Swiss lathes are made for doing thousands of pieces but that’s not really necessary,” Smith said. “We run 200-300 pieces and it’s good for that too. You don’t have to run thousands of parts to get a return on investment on that machine.”

The increase in throughput allowed Smith to limit the amount of outsourcing necessary to fulfill his commitments to customers. Running more production in house increased profitability on more parts, and also gave his team more control over the quality of its products. Smith’s eventual goal is to bring all production in house to further enhance these results.

Smith remains optimistic about the growth potential of his company. “We’re looking forward to adding another Swiss lathe to our operation,” Smith said. “Machining is like racing—once you get a new machine, everyone wants to stop by to see it.”

The M08 also allowed Smith’s team to run Fette tools, which are top-of-the-line components for thread rolling. “On the M08, we can thread roll on both the main spindle and the sub spindle with 4.5-inch diameter thread rolling heads,” Smith said. “It’s not a huge machine, but it’s a darn good machine.”

Click here to download the full article.

Challenge: The need for innovation and decreased cycle times

Machining Solution: S206, SS38MH-5AX and others

Result: Shortened Cycle Times and Increased Productivity

Location: Marquette, MI

RTI Surgical runs 45+ Tsugami machines in their facility in Marquette, MI. They have experienced dramatically decreased cycle times and increased productivity throughout their relationship with Tsugami/Rem Sales. Innovation has kept this company at the forefront of the medical market and will continue to do so for years to come

Challenge: Miniature fitting in 316L material with 16 RMS finish in a cone that tapers to Ø.021 and a Ø.010 through hole

Machining Solution: Tsugami S206

Result: Can drill a .009 inch hole at 10,000 RPM in 316L SST for thousands of parts and bore down to .021 inch diameter

Location: Landenberg, PA

A Productivity Boost for Micro Sized Components

as seen on MFGNews.com

Thomas W. Springer, a second-generation CNC job shop founded in 1976, manufactures complex close tolerance components made from Kovar, SST, aluminum, beryllium, copper, brass, and most plastics including Ultem, Vespel, and Fluoroloy, in quantities from one to 50,000.

“Parts are being engineered increasingly smaller over the years, requiring smaller tools with a higher chance for tool breakage and chip removal issues—not ideal for unattended machining without a tool monitoring
system,” said a company spokesperson.

One of the company’s recent manufacturing challenges involved a miniature fitting in 316L material with 16 RMS finish in a cone that tapers to Ø.021 and a Ø.010 through hole. The job was taken as a “best effort only” job with a top set-up man only being able to produce up to 55 parts in an 8 hour shift. Tsugami S206 Tool Zone

Thomas W. Springer has been using Tsugami solutions for 25 years. For this manufacturing challenge, after researching other options, the solution was a Tsugami S206 6-axis opposed gang tool CNC lathe with a CARON Engineering Tool Monitoring Adaptive Control (TMAC) system. “We have always received exceptional support from Tsugami in the past, even on older model machines, so we knew what to expect for support on new purchases,” said the spokesperson. “We worked with Ron Gainer, who guided us in outfitting our most recent S206 with a Caron TMAC system and was also able to get us an extended trial period to make sure the TMAC system would work for us.”

The Tsugami S206 is suitable for variable volume production with a wide range of capability. The S206’s modular tooling layout can feature up to 15 different live tools, delivering enhanced capability and rapid changeover times. The S206 features a Y-axis tool post, which allows users to machine complex parts using the main and back spindle simultaneously. The Tsugami S206 CNC lathe is convertible and may be run as a traditional sliding headstock Swiss turn using the guide bushing or run without the guide bushing with the addition of an optional chucker kit. When run as a chucker the S206 can use drawn bar stock, reducing remnant size and increasing shop flexibility.

CARON Engineering’s TMAC system protects the CNC machine while providing valuable information about the cutting process. TMAC is designed to reduce the high costs associated with broken tools, lost production and rejected parts by effectively measuring tool wear in real time. It operates on the principle that the power required to cut a part increases as the tool’s cutting edges deteriorate. The “Adaptive” control feature of TMAC reduces cycle time and optimizes cutting time under changing cutting conditions to improve tool life.

Adding the TMAC system allowed Thomas W. Springer to increase the output to 300+ parts running 20 or more hours per day, 12 of which are unattended.

Tsugami S206 frontMost of the parts have a lot of intricate internal work consistently requiring a 16 finish or better in heat treated 17-4PH or 316SST. “We hold +/-.0002 inch in Nitronic 60 all day long with some unattended running at night,” said the spokesperson. The most challenging part on the S206 is not really complex, but micro in size. “We can drill a .009 inch hole at 10,000 RPM in 316L SST for thousands of parts and bore down to .021 inch diameter,” said the spokesperson. “The same part also has an M2X.25 internal thread that is too small for a single point tool, so we use a thread mill on the sub side in 316L material. Another big advantage of these machines is the high-pressure coolant and the 8,000 RPM cross-attachments that smaller tools require.”

The company now has six Tsugami S206 Swiss-type CNC lathes, two with TMAC systems.

Thomas W. Springer currently employs 25 full-time employees operating 30 CNC machines in a 20,000 sq. ft. facility running one manned and up to two unmanned shifts. Industries served include electronics, life-sciences, analytical instruments, aerospace, medical and military.

The company uses Esprit for lathes and Mastercam for mills, and utilizes LNS barfeeders.

“Our goal is to stay ahead of the curve by staying lean, using modern state of the art equipment and software, and continually striving for as much unattended operation as possible,” said the spokesperson. “The manufacturing industry is facing a shortage of skilled workers, and we plan on continuing to utilize automation to fill the gaps.”

Challenge: Needed a flexible machine, capable of running unattended and creating the companies small parts

Machining Solution: BE20, S206, B0326, B0206, SS26, SS20

Result: Customer satisfaction consistently registering 4.8 out of 5.0 and the ability to archieve tolerances as tight as ±0.0005" for concentricity and ±0.0005

Location: Webster, NY

Radax Industries Inc., specializing in the manufacture of fasteners and gun components, needed to produce parts with higher tolerances and more complexity. The company also wanted to diversify and make products the machinery they owned was not able to produce.

“Initially we sought new multi-spindle screw machines to add to our shop,” said Ben Sacco, Operation Manager, Radax Industries Inc. and Precision CNC Mfg. “We learned that multi-spindle screw machines were not going to be flexible enough nor capable of meeting the demands for complexity or productivity that our customers required. After research we realized that Swiss-type CNC machines are capable of machining the components we needed to make and are able to run unattended for a long period of time.”

With the assistance of Tsugami representative Mike Narcisso, Morris Great Lakes, Radax Industries purchased its first Tsugami, a BE20-V CNC Swiss lathe. The component machined on this Swiss lathe was a stainless-steel fastener with a custom pitch thread. Utilizing the BE20-V, the cycle time on the Tsugami was half of what it had been on other machines in the shop.

“The components made on the Tsugami BE20 met our customers’ requirements and helped Radax grow, resulting in the purchase of five more Tsugami machines to meet more demand. The manufacturing complexity and flexibility needed were met. It has been eight years since we first started our project. Productivity has been realized by unattended operations. The quality of the components is seen by our customer satisfaction consistently registering 4.8 out of 5.0,” said Sacco.

Radax now runs seven Tsugami machines: S206 20 mm 7-axis opposed gang tool CNC lathe, B0326 32 mm 7-axis opposed gang tool CNC lathe, B0206-II 32 mm 7-axis opposed gang tool CNC lathe, two BE20-V Swiss type 5-axis CNC lathes with chucker mode capability, SS26 26 mm Swiss Type CNC 7-axis automatic lathe and SS20 20 mm Swiss Type 7-axis CNC automatic lathe.

Radax, founded in 1967 by Ben’s grandfather Rocco Sacco, has been a commercial fastener manufacturer producing standard and custom fasteners including custom screw thread forms, non-standard lengths, exotic materials, socket set screws and dowel pins. The first machines used at Radax were Davenport screw machines. The company has grown from a small facility to a 50,000 sq. ft. facility. It has expanded to include a new company called Precision CNC Mfg. (PCNC) which manufactures all types of products from round bar, generally of steel or stainless steel. The machines utilized by PCNC are fully automated and can run overnight without human operators if needed.

Dowel pins are machined with a chamfer on one end and a radius on the other. Dowels are made from alloy steel, stainless steel or brass. “The hardened ground alloy steel dowel pins manufactured at Radax do not bend, dent or break very easily because they are case hardened to Rockwell HRC 60,” said Sacco.

Set screw are used to secure one object within another object. The set screw passes through a threaded hole in the outer object and is tightened against the inner object to prevent it from moving.

Radax also does cold forming which utilizes extreme pressure and rigid tooling to form metal components instead of cutting them. These products included shafts of various lengths and diameters.

Custom centerless grinding is also performed at Radax. This process removes material from the outside diameter of a round bar, part, dowel pin or a screw thread. Centerless grinding services have been used by industries such as sporting goods, firearms, defense, marine, irrigation and automotive.

Radax Industries is ISO 9008:2015 certified. “With continuous improvement being our primary goal, we are able to achieve tolerances as tight as ±0.0005″ for concentricity and ±0.0005″ for diameter,” said Sacco. “We are geared to accommodate almost any production requirement, from prototyping to high volume runs. We will run nights and weekends to support our customers and are customer oriented. Our Tsugami Swiss machines have allowed us to venture into special products and given us an extra boost to keep us running and grow when it counted.”

– via Manufacturing News Magazine’s March 2019 issue.

Challenge: Needed a way to automate machining without losing tolerances.

Machining Solution: BS series machines

Result: Running 5 days a week, 8 hours a day instead of 2 10 hour shifts, 4 days per week.

Location: Covina, CA

A video testimonial about how Moore’s Ideal Products, based in Covina, CA, uses Tsugami swiss turn machines to manufacture small parts for their top-notch RC car kits.

Challenge: Trouble running a challenging part complete.

Machining Solution: SS38MH-5AX, B0326

Result: Able to run their part in 1 op, under 3 minutes.

Location: Spokane, WA

MacKay Manufacturing explains how they use ESPRIT programming software on their Tsugami machines to achieve the highest level of accuracy, durability, and reliability possible.

Challenge: Needed a solution that could run unattended with a compact footprint

Machining Solution: B0125, SS20, B0206

Result: High tolerances, low cycle times on unattended Tsugami Swiss machines

Location: Naples, FL

A case study about Azimuth’s use and love of Tsugami and HAAS.

“Even with a strong and varied manufacturing background, it wasn’t until a few years ago that this father and son team found its way into the manufacture of weaponry components. Nonetheless, business is booming.”

Challenge: Remove cycle time and run continuously.

Machining Solution: SS20, SS327-5AX, S205

Result: Unattended operations - lights out machining.

Location: Elkhorn, WI

Enjoy the Precision Plus video testimonial below.

*AS SEEN ON www.hartwiginc.com

HARTWIG HELPS ANGSTROM DECREASE CYCLE TIMES – Established in 1999, Angstrom Manufacturing brings over two decades of experience to the manufacturing industry, primarily focusing on machining for both dental and medical products, but also custom building and operating automation and robot equipment.

Angstrom partners with their customers to provide high quality, low costing consumable supplies, while meeting all ISO standards and FDA regulations. Angstrom is known for being a one-stop shop for completely finished goods. They not only machine the part, they will also laser mark and electro-polish the part as well.

Angstrom’s overall eagerness to provide unprecedented satisfaction to their customers and their ambition to expand into even more manufacturing sectors is truly inspiring.

Why Tsugami?

As Angstrom continues to see growth, they made the decision to implement a fast making, part producing TSUGAMI S206. Previously outsourcing most of their parts, Angstrom is currently four months ahead of schedule with the utilization of their new TSUGAMI.

Chris Carron, owner of Angstrom and CNC machining veteran, jokes that he is so ahead of schedule that he may have to give the TSUGAMI a break for a while due to its speed.

“Close tolerances and no offsets days and days at a time… I am not afraid to run this machine unattended, overnight.”
~ Eric Scherrer, Machine Operator & Programmer

Eric Scherrer running Angstrom’s steel tip dental part on the TSUGAMI S206.

They are currently producing 1500 parts a day with the TSUGAMI S206. The cycle time was estimated to be 50 seconds, but is presently at running at 20 seconds per.

“Growing up pretty much my whole life in machine shops, these cycle times are just incredible.”
~ Chris Carron, Owner

Why Hartwig?

Being a company who provides not only superior products to their customers, but also assists with the design and development of products, Angstrom is not like other manufacturers.

Like Angstrom, Hartwig is not like other distributors, as they are well-known for their service and support after the sale. Deciding to partner with Hartwig, Angstrom knew that they could build their unique business together.

“We fought hard for Angstrom’s business. We are extremely happy to be partnered with them, and we will be with them every step of the way as they continue to grow.” ~ Ron Ehler, Hartwig Sales Engineer

Combining both high-quality parts and the S206 from the TSUGAMI line, along with the strong support from the Hartwig team, Angstrom will continue to do what they do best: produce exceptional parts, fast, and carry forward with the design and automation of the future of manufacturing.

Challenge: Traditional CNC equipment was used with a legacy approach

Machining Solution: Tsugami B0205-III

Result: Cut production time from 2 minutes to 23 seconds

Location: Tomball, TX

*AS SEEN ON www.apsplastics.com

APS Plastics & Manufacturing (APS) is transitioning to be a manufacturing 4.0 company, through automation, developing talent within, and embracing new technology and equipment. Recently, we invested in new equipment and powerful software to drive it – the Tsugami Swiss Machine and ESPRIT CAD/CAM software – which showcased dramatic improvements in production. On one particular plastic part, it cut production time from two (2) minutes down to 23 seconds. This led to:

  • Faster turnaround
  • Better quality finish
  • Consistent results among each part


Traditional CNC equipment was used with a legacy approach: when making a part, material hangs out of the chuck and the tool engages it. The problem with the approach is that when the tool engages the material, the part deflects. There is a tool change involved, moving away from the machining zone and index, to the next tool being used. Moving mechanical parts and motion creates heat; causing the machine and parts to swell. Additionally, with the legacy approach, projects were two (2) operations and included a manual, labor-intensive moving process of parts from one machine to the next. All of this slows cycle time, cut depths, and speed.

APS strives to embrace technology and challenges. “In our efforts to become a manufacturing 4.0 company, it was time to make improvements in-house to stay ahead of the industry. The purchase of the Tsugami and ESPRIT CAD/CAM software would bring change in operations and routine, challenges for our people, as well as a great expense. However, we knew in the long run it would yield vast improvements, making it all worth the while. We are fortunate to have a team of hard workers, not afraid to take on a challenge. After proper training on the equipment, they set goals to get better and discover ways to cut off even more production time” – Mush Khan, CEO.

How the Machine Helped:

The manufacturing process of the Tsugami* is a bit different than the legacy approach. The material feeds in and out of the chuck and the tools are stationary. The material is held in guide bushing and feeds past the tool; where there is no longer any deflecting. This alone results in major changes: increase in speed and feed & reduction in cut and overall cycle times.

How the Software Helped:

ESPRIT CAD/CAM allowed us to quickly automate the machine, without several manual programming steps – drastically cutting down on time. The software allows us to import files and drawings to create 3D models. We also used ESPRIT’s simulation feature to test the program before making the parts, which reduces the risk of machine damage and scrapped parts. For this process, APS worked with Shape Design Technologies, Inc., the Texas and Louisiana ESPRIT integrator, who helped with the initial setup and will continue to support throughout the transition.


The Tsugami and ESPRIT CAD/CAM software, not only process faster, but also present a significantly better-quality finish. This new approach holds size remarkably well, as the repeatability is great. Consistent results make for happy customers. Using the Tsugami, there is less wasted motion, no issues with heating/cooling, fewer jams and errors, and the entire process is a one (1) production project.

“With the faster process and better-quality finish, APS cut cycle times and got parts out to customers quicker, enabling us to take on more work and be more competitive.” Mush Khan, CEO.

The excellent automation and consistency of the new machines and software have freed up the time of our highly skilled machinists, giving them the flexibility to work on various projects and/or high value areas, rather than getting tied into monitoring/managing one project from start to finish. The highly skilled machinists can now begin a project and pass it along to other team members to monitor/manage. The bar feeders even help move parts along, no longer requiring a manual, labor-intensive process.


After measuring the results of a project for one of our customers, we present you the following results:



APS had the privilege to work alongside both Hartwig and REM Sales during the transition process to the new Tsugami machine. They were highly supportive, engaged, resourceful, responsive, and provided beneficial recommendations. Our strong partnership led to the formation of a great team in APS’ time of improvements.

Challenge: Lights Out Machining, Reshoring

Machining Solution: Tsugami SS20 and BS12 Swiss Type Lathes

Result: Better Product, Lower Cost, Faster Delivery Times

Location: Orem, UT

Read how Blendtec improved the quality of their commercial blenders by re-shoring critical parts with the help of three Tsugami Swiss Type CNC Lathes integrated for unattended operation by Rem Sales.

In 1975, years before Tom Dickson became an internet and media celebrity in the amusing “Will It Blend?” YouTube video series, he was revolutionizing the home wheat milling industry, taking it from stone grinding to his patented stainless steel milling heads. Since then, Dickson has continued to improve the form and function of his products and product lines.

Photo of BlendTec Parts

Along the way, he designed a blender with a distinctive square pitcher, rather than the conventional round shape. He ground up all sorts of unusual items during the research and development stages, pulverizing 2×2 boards with his blenders to test their ruggedness. Fortuitously, he launched his line of commercial blenders 17 years ago, just as fruit smoothies and coffee frappes were starting to become mainstream.

Today, Tom Dickson is still inventing new products and uses for his blenders. His Orem, Utah based company is thriving, and 270 people comprise “Team Blendtec.” Blendtec machines are mixing all sorts of concoctions in homes, restaurants, smoothie shops, coffee bars, and tea rooms.

Dickson’s ingenuity does not stop at the product research department. In 2008, he considered his metal parts manufacturing operation, and thought it could be significantly improved. At that time, most of the motor and jar parts were made by outside vendors–– some in China.

Tom had a desire for Blendtec Corporation to become more vertically integrated, and he knew that to bring additional manufacturing in-house, re-shoring it back to America, would require advanced CNC machine tools to be competitive in a global economy.

Further, to save the company even more money, he wanted the CNC machines to run for days without operator intervention–– lights out. Together with his manufacturing engineer, David Voorhees, they researched several machine tool providers and ultimately decided upon Tsugami/REM Sales to develop a turnkey solution.

“We were a challenging customer,” says David Beck, President of Blendtec. “Right off the bat, Tom and Dave wanted two CNC lathes to run at least six hours unattended, and we knew nothing about the Swiss Turning process. We relied on REM Sales to develop a manufacturing system and process: program the parts, test run the parts, set up redundant tooling, and perform tool monitoring. Plus, we challenged them to integrate the bar feeders, coolant, and chip systems, and so on–– the whole package.”

As with any sophisticated manufacturing technology and ambitious goals, there were hurdles to overcome and tweaks to tune, which REM Sales resolved. Once the process was robust, Blendtec added a third Tsugami BS12 Mark 5 Swiss Type CNC Lathe in 2009. Last fall, they purchased two Tsugami SS20 Swiss Type CNC Lathes. Those CNC lathes are running two parts simultaneously, essentially producing the output of four CNC machines.

Today, all of the Tsugami Swiss Type Lathes are operated by three people and run seven days a week, 24 hours a day. “We’ve been working like that since June 2008 when we got the first two CNC lathes on line,” says engineer Dave Voorhees.

Learning the life of each and every tool was one of the most time-consuming aspects of ramping up to unattended Swiss turning operation, according to Voorhees. REM Sales’ engineers wrote macros for each tool to accommodate for wear and to trigger offsets in the program to maintain part geometries and tolerances.

Blendtec uses an oil-based coolant composition and high pressure systems with all of its Tsugami CNC Lathes to keep the tool/workpiece interface clear of chips and extend tool life. However, the oily mist in the cutting area of the machines can be flammable. Fire suppression systems are integrated with all of the machines.

On the newer SS20 Swiss Type Lathes, monitoring systems are poised on the main spindle, subspindle and both live tool spindles to detect any anomalies. In the event there is a tool break or other problem, the monitoring software spurs a call to a machine operator who comes in and gets the CNC Lathe back up and running.

“We have noticed several areas of improvement now that we are manufacturing in-house with these particular machine tools,” says Beck. “We make about a dozen different parts in our factory, the details of which are proprietary. A product is the sum of its parts, and the quality of our blenders is enhanced because each individual part is better-made. The mixers assemble easier. They operate better. Heck, they even grind up iPads on one of Tom’s most recent videos. Our costs have lowered. Our delivery speeds have risen. In fact, delivery is almost immediate because 98 percent of the product is now made right here. Cycle times in general have reduced by at least two-thirds compared to what the outside vendor was achieving, and they will continue to go down. We’ve refined the process over the years and will continue to do so.”

Manufacturing engineer Voorhees elaborates on the significant reductions in cycle times, particularly as each Tsugami SS20 CNC Lathe is making two parts simultaneously. On one part, they went from a five minute cycle time four years ago down to 90 seconds now. He estimates the time will reduce to 75 seconds before long. On another part, the machining time used to be two minutes, now it is 30 seconds.

For other OEMs or shops looking to leap into lights out manufacturing using the Swiss turning approach, engineer Voorhees offers the following advice:

First, use precision ground bar stock. At Blendtec, it is common for part tolerances to be in the ten-thousandths of an inch range. Likewise, the material, in some cases hard stainless, must be very high quality, straight, packaged for protection, and delivered with care.

Second, knowing the tool life of each tool is very important. “You have to watch the tools, and it just takes time. There are no short cuts to gaining that knowledge,” says Voorhees, “but that data is the pathway to success when it comes to an optimal lights out operation.” He also adds that experimenting with different tool brands can save a lot of money.

Third, he recommends using a high pressure coolant system to keep the work area thermally stable and free of chips and swarf. The systems integrated with Blendtec’s Tsugami CNC lathes are from MP Systems, Inc. He also believes that using an oil-based coolant has helped extend tool life in Blendtec’s applications. He acknowledges that oil is more expensive to buy and to discard of properly, however he strongly believes the company saves costs in the long run, particularly with tools and reliable part quality.

Fourth, he cites the chucker mode option, available only on Tsugami CNC lathes, as extremely beneficial. Using the lathe in chucker versus guide bushing mode avoids the wasteful 9 to 11-inch remnant of material. He concedes that some parts can only be made using the guide bushing mode, but that it is advantageous to have the option to use it as a chucker whenever possible.

“Whenever I host a tour of our facility, I’ll pick up a couple of mating parts out of separate bins,” says Blendtec’s president David Beck. “They always fit beautifully together. That did not always happen when we were buying parts outside. It’s a testament to our quality. I can’t imagine anyone who could not compete with the Chinese or anybody in the world when you have an automated process like this.”

While Tom Dickson’s manufacturing team is whipping up productivity, he’s whooping it up on YouTube, and having a ball. Contact Tsugami/REM Sales and see how you might join the trend to re-shore your manufacturing operation and reap the benefits of lights out manufacturing.

Challenge: Longer-running jobs with smaller parts

Machining Solution: Tsugami B0124 Swiss Type CNC Lathe

Result: 15,000-part run can be completed in half the time that it previously took

Location: Carpentersville, IL

Read how Tsugami CNC Lathe technology is helped Groth Manufacturing improve their manufacturing capabilities, especially for high volume production jobs…

John Groth purchased a run-down screw machine shop in 1996, which he renamed Groth Manufacturing. Since then, as President and CEO, he has successfully grown the company to operate in a 22,000 square-foot facility which serves a variety of industries, including automotive, energy, agricultural and firearms manufacturing.Photo of Groth Manufacturing Owner

Groth says, “My company’s main challenge was longer-running jobs with smaller parts.” Having first heard of Tsugami machine tools years before while working with a Tsugami salesman, Groth says, “He showed me how much better Tsugami’s Swiss Type CNC Lathes were than the competition. We decided on a Tsugami lathe based on the capabilities of the machine, the knowledgeable service and the fact that it was priced right and in stock, with no long lead time. ”

Groth notes that Tsugami was able to solve a particular application challenge and explains, “One of the parts we make is a dust cover pin that is .1240/1242” diameter, 3.5” long, with a .187” head. We use .250” diameter bar stock and this is no problem for our Tsugami CNC lathe. Our challenge in making this part was keeping a nice finish on the outer diameter, plus taper problems even using a box tool. With our Tsugami lathe, there is no taper at all and the process is much faster.”

“During four 40-hour work weeks we cranked out a 15,000 piece order in no time!” exclaims Groth. He adds, “This lathe just runs, and tool life is great. Plus, it takes up hardly any floor space. The experience was really good, and I’d recommend Tsugami Swiss Type CNC Lathes any time.

For more information about Groth Manufacturing, please visit their website at www.grothmfg.com.

Watch the video here


Challenge: Small diameter, close tolerance parts with secondary operations

Machining Solution: Tsugami SS26 Swiss Type CNC Lathe

Result: Increased machining capabilities

Location: Southampton, PA

Read how D&R Machine Company has strengthened their ability to take on tight tolerance work with the addition of a new Tsugami Swiss Type CNC Lathe…D&R Machine Company Owner

D&R Machine Company, founded in 1971, manufactures components for the aerospace, commercial, military and transportation industries. The company operates in a 42,000 square-foot facility in Southampton, PA, where Paul Redante serves as the president and owner.

“We already had a Tsugami Swiss turn we’d been using for over 20 years, so it was natural to consider a new one when we decided to buy another CNC lathe,” says Redante. He continues, “Accuracy, machining capabilities and ease of use were major concerns. We chose Tsugami Swiss Type CNC Lathes based on the price, features of the machine and service support of Rem Sales.”

Since the purchase of their Tsugami SS26 CNC Lathe, the company has experienced widely increased machining capabilities. “We were previously not able to quote on close tolerances (<.001″) or parts requiring secondary machining operations. Our new Tsugami lathe gives us the competitive capability to make these parts,” explains Redante.

Redante also notes that his company had a great overall experience with Tsugami/Rem Sales. He says, “Our experience with the salesmen, application engineers and service support has been excellent. The regional sales manager walked us through training and the implementation of some accessories, which made installation a success,” explains Redante.

As a final point, Redante jokes, “Tsugami lathes certainly get our recommendation…except maybe to our competitors!”

For more information about D&R Machine Company, please visit their website at www.drmachine.com.

Challenge: Efficient, high-volume production of precision parts

Machining Solution: Tsugami B0206, BE20, BE12, SS26 (2) CNC Lathes

Result: Single operation, one-minute cycle time parts that run unattended while maintaining tight tolerances

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Read how the Tsugami Swiss Type CNC Lathes at OptiFlow have met their challenge, to produce a high volume of precision parts as quickly as possible…Photo of Optiflow Inc Team

Founded in 2003, OptiFlow Inc. is an OEM supplier that produces large volumes of milled and turned parts. Stephen Shubeck, an engineer for the company, is involved in product development and management of the Swiss turning department.

“Our machining challenge was similar to many other companies – produce a high volume of precision parts as quickly as possible,” explains Shubeck. He continues, “We were first introduced to Tsugami Swiss Type CNC Lathes while visiting a local machine tool dealer. Tsugami seemed to be the right match for the part we needed to produce, and it turned out to be true. We have seen a lot of growth and success because of that decision.”

Shubeck describes one example of a part for which they’ve experienced great results. He says, “The part is used for optical adjustment and is also a sealing component of an assembly. It is made from stainless steel and has an 80 pitch thread, clip groove, O-ring groove, two bearing surfaces, adjustment detents and a slotted head. Much of the tolerance for the part is only a few tenths, including the concentricity of the thread in relation to the bearing surfaces.”

He continues, “This is a difficult part in many aspects, and one that is perfect for our Tsugami CNC Lathes. We were able to maintain a -.0004” concentricity on the major diameter of a #8-80UNS thread, all while maintaining a short cycle time. The end result is a part that has one operation, a one minute cycle time, can run unattended for multiple hours and maintain tight tolerances.”

Photo of Optiflow Inc Parts“Shubeck notes, “We’ve always had a positive experience working with Tsugami, from sales to service. Our regional sales manager is always honest about what he’s selling and takes an interest in our goals we are trying to meet. Even after the sale, he continues to offer his support and knowledge. Service is also outstanding. The support staff is easy to reach, and they know how valuable machine time is. They stay committed until the issue is resolved.”

He concludes, “I would absolutely recommend Tsugami CNC Machine Tools. Their lathes have unparalleled capability, plus the sales and service to back it up.”

For more information about Optiflow Inc., please visit their website at www.optiflowinc.com.

Challenge: New-to-Swiss Company

Machining Solution: Tsugami SS20 and S206 Swiss Type CNC Lathes

Result: Reduced Costs, Improved Lead Times

Location: Lancaster, PA

Read how Flex-Cell Precision brought work back in-house with the addition of two Tsugami Swiss Type CNC Lathes…

Established in 1992, Flex-Cell Precision, Inc. has seen continuous growth, and decided to stay competitive by producing their components in their own facility. President and CEO, Anthony Fanning, explains, “We subbed out screw machine parts to support our medical implantable device business for two to three years. Growth forced us to look at that strategy, which led to bringing the work in-house for cost and lead time reasons.”

“I was aware of the Tsugami brand and their reputation for producing high-quality CNC machine tools. We needed someone to hold our hand, and we had faith that our distributor’s relationship with Rem Sales would ensure a smooth progression into the world of Swiss Turning,” says Fanning.

He recalls, “Rem Sales did a turnkey for us for some small titanium screws featuring 2mm/2.5mm threads and hex drive features. The screws needed to be produced accurately and efficiently. This initial project comes to mind as being very important because we had to get up to speed on a machine we knew practically nothing about. We completely relied on the support from Rem Sales to help us, and that support was very good.”

“Our first Tsugami Swiss Type CNC Lathe has proved to be versatile and reliable over the three to four years we’ve had it, and we’ve recently purchased another,” says Fanning. He adds, “All aspects of our purchases were very professional and as promised. I would recommend Tsugami because of the capability and reliability of their CNC Lathes, and the support from Rem Sales. It was a very good experience and I would expect other companies to have the same.”

For more information about Flex-Cell Precision, Inc., please visit their website at www.flex-cellinc.com

Challenge: Quick Changeover Jobs in Highly Competitive Medical Industry

Machining Solution: Tsugami SS32 and S206 Swiss Type CNC Lathes

Result: Fast, Reliable and Accurate Machining

Location: Ramsey, MN

Read how Tsugami Swiss Type CNC Lathes, at MultiSource Manufacturing in Boulder, CO, offer fast, reliable, accurate and easy to change over machining solutions in a job shop environment…MultiSource Building Pic

MultiSource Manufacturing LLC operates in six divisions spread over five locations across Minneapolis, MN and Boulder, CO. The company provides tight tolerance machining, electromechanical assembly, plastic fabrication, equipment build and complex progressive dies.”

Rob Redden, Sales Engineering Manager for the Ramsey, MN facility, explains why choosing the right machining technology was so important: “The company competes in the highly competitive medical industry. We operate in a job shop environment and need to be able to change over jobs quickly and efficiently to meet our customer’s requirements. Tsugami offers flexible Swiss type lathes that are fast, reliable, accurate and easy to change over.”

MultiSource had many options when choosing their new turning centers. Redden says, “We considered other live tooling CNC lathes, but we decided on Tsugami because of the faster cycle and setup times, the ease of use, and the local service and support.”

Redden continues, “Our local distributor and Rem Sales have been second to none at their sales, service and applications support. Our regional sales manager from Rem Sales stops in on a regular basis along with the team from our local distributor to make sure that jobs are running smoothly on our SS32 and S206 Swiss Type CNC Lathes. They will provide any solutions when needed.”

He concludes, “I would recommend Tsugami CNC machine tools to others in the industry because their CNC Lathes are well-rounded, versatile and backed by exceptional support. Our Tsugami lathes have helped us stay on the cutting edge of technology and remain competitive in the markets we serve.”

For more information about MultiSource Manufacturing LLC, please visit their website at www.multisourcemfg.com.

Challenge: Tight Tolerances and Repeatability

Machining Solution: Tsugami B0326-II Swiss Type CNC Lathe

Result: Reliable, Repeatable, Cost Effective Machining

Location: Elgin, IL

Honor Med Maskiner Corp Owner

Read how Honor Med Maskiner Corp has greatly increased productivity and accuracy of their medical components with the installation of a new B0326-II Swiss Type CNC Lathe…

Patricia Hirsch owns Honor Med Maskiner Corp., which clarifies why the direct Swedish translation of her company name is “Females with Machines”. The company manufactures precision components for the medical, firearm and pneumatic industries.

Hirsch was in search of a new CNC Lathe to replace the company’s older equipment. “We wanted a CNC lathe that was extremely versatile and could hold tight tolerances and repeatability on various jobs. We decided on a Tsugami Swiss Type CNC Lathe among many other choices after conducting lots of research, hearing from other happy customers and visiting their booth at the International Manufacturing Technology Show,” says Hirsch.

She continues, “C. The modular live rotary tool units, live tooling speed and the option to run without a guide bushing are just a few of the reasons why Tsugami was the best option for us.”

Hirsch explains the results her company has experienced since purchasing their Tsugami: “We’ve seen greatly increased productivity and accuracy of our components. Our B0326-II Swiss Type CNC Lathe is presently operating at full capacity 24/7 producing a highly complex part. We love the fact that we save material on the bar ends since the machine operates with a chucker and there is no need to use ground stock. Plus, the controls are easy to operate and we are able to run the lathe on an unattended extended shift.”

Hirsch adds, “Service and support are ready to help and hands on. We enjoyed working with the entire team. Tsugami CNC Lathes are great machines for their price, and deserve a lot of praise. We strive to be the best, and in order to stay competitive in this industry, we must provide the best equipment. We plan to continue our relationship with Tsugami as part of that vision.”

For more information about Honor Med Maskiner Corp. and how Tsugami solved their machining challenges, please contact Patricia Hirsch at (847) 741-9400.

Read how EPTAM Plastics was able to satisfy a unique challenge, for machining a spinal implant, by using Tsugami Swiss Turn technology from Rem Sales…EPTAM Plastics Photo

EPTAM Plastics, established in 1981, started as a small business with only 3 employees, and has since grown to operate with 100 employees in a 60,000 square foot facility in Northfield, NH. The company specializes in machining high end polymer components for industries such as medical, energy, military/aerospace, semiconductor and more.

“Our challenge was machining a spinal implant made from Implantable PEEK plastic material. The customer was preparing for a launch in a couple of months, so it didn’t give us a lot of time to complete the project. We had to be creative with tooling and work holding to make this project happen,” explains Max Dubois, CNC Programming Manager.

He continues, “We had worked with Morris Group, Inc. before, and they recommended a Tsugami Swiss Type CNC Lathes as the right solution. We also considered an Okuma 5-axis mill, but Tsugami CNC lathe was preferred due to the speed, accuracy and multi-tasking ability.”

“The support from Rem Sales is second to none. Service and Applications have helped us maximize our Tsugami’s potential,” adds Dubois.

He concludes, “The result is that we were able to satisfy the customers launch requirements, machining over 100 unique part numbers in a short timeframe. This has opened up many more business opportunities for EPTAM Plastics in the spinal market.”

For more information about EPTAM Plastics, please visit their website at www.eptam.com.