System Keeps Toolmaker in the Black

System Keeps Toolmaker in the Black

Command Tooling Systems puts a black-oxide finish on more than one-third of the toolholders it produces, and it was outsourcing the process. That outsourcing typically added three days to the manufacturing process. However, the company now uses a seven-tank, 100-gallon Tru Temp in-house blackening line that cuts the process to 34 min. The system also gives the tooling company more control over the process.

The Tru Temp system, from Birchwood Casey (www.birchwoodcasey.com), imparts a uniform black finish for aesthetic purposes and corrosion protection. Command Tooling uses the process on its BT and V-flange toolholders, which are made of 8620 alloy steel. The coating covers uniformly, even in recessed areas that other coating processes may miss.

Tim Gerbozy, Command Tooling's (www.commandtool.com) manufacturing manager, says the Tru Temp system blackens 400 toolholders and an equal number of retention knobs in an 8-hour shift and has the capacity to triple that output. He says that a maximum number or toolholders are finished per load and move through the system quickly, and the speed and capacity combine to reduce costs so that they are lower than farming the parts out for blackening.

The Tru Temp satin-black coating measures 0.5-microns thick and does not effect part dimensions or material hardness. Verified through independent testing, the coating withstands up to 200 hours of neutral salt spray or several hundred hours of humidity — attributes important for ocean shipping and dealer storage.

Tru Temp's solutions are odorless, nonsplattering, low in concentration, and do not use EPA-regulated chemicals, so the company says the process is safe. Command Tooling does not have to treat waste from the process, but does have to adjust pH of waste liquids prior to disposing of them. The company monitors and controls the solution with a colorchange test that indicates proper concentration levels.

Working with Birchwood Casey, Command Tooling configured its finishing line to operate with an overhead hoist that also serves a recently installed bead-blasting system. Both the finishing line and the bead-blasting system are set up in a room near the shop's machining operations, and are run by one operator.

Toolholders go through the bead blaster to remove heat treat scale, then are loaded onto customdesigned racks that accommodate 39 to 137 toolholders. The overhead hoist moves the racks through the black-oxide process line. Once they are blackened, the toolholders move back to the main shop for finish machining. The system keeps product handling to a minimum.

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