Gantry router swells surfboard production

Gantry router swells surfboard production

TO INCREASE PRODUCTION AND quality, while maintaining a one-of-a-kind product, many surfboard companies venture offshore to reap the benefits of inexpensive labor. But for Szabad International of San Marcos, Calif., the solution to producing more surfboar

Pacific's GR-510 cuts two stringers from a single board secured with clamps.

Pacific CNC Machining uses a Haas GR-510 gantry router to produce surfboard components.

A surf instructor from Cocoa Beach Surfing School rides a Szabad surfboard, which sports components machined on a Haas GR-510 gantry router. (Photo courtesy of Craig Carroll)

Jesse James and the crew at Monster Garage depend on welding and cutting equipment from Esab.

Visual Enterprise integrated manufacturing and quality software lets UCAR Composites meet customer specifications, implement ISO 9000, and increase on-time deliveries.

With an Alpha 800S lathe, Nu-Pro reduces cycle times as much as 40% for certain aerospace parts.

An on-line balancing system from BalaDyne continuously monitors fan vibration levels and phase angle as well as automatically corrects for unbalanced conditions at U.S. Steel.

A BCP 8-wheel structural shot-blast machine with monorail better prepares lift-gate surfaces for powder coating at Anthony Lift Gates.

TO INCREASE PRODUCTION AND quality, while maintaining a one-of-a-kind product, many surfboard companies venture offshore to reap the benefits of inexpensive labor. But for Szabad International of San Marcos, Calif., the solution to producing more surfboards was across the street at Pacific CNC Machining.

Pacific has a Haas GR-510 CNC gantry router with a 40-taper milling head and 53 10-ft table that easily accommodates surfboards. Not only has the machine increased production for Szabad, it has improved the quality and repeatability of the company's surfboard components. "We've taken the product from being a rough, labor-intensive process to an extremely repeatable one," says John McClain, owner of Pacific CNC. "The GR-510 machines every part the same and eliminates seven assembly operations for Szabad." He says Szabad has tripled its production.

Pacific, using the GR-510, makes stringers for Szabad's performance softboards. Unlike traditional surfboards, which have a foam core and a hard outer skin of fiberglass and resin, softboards are soft foam with polyethylene bottoms and rigid stringers running down the center of the board.

These wood stringers form the softboard's backbone. They are wood and create the rocker, or curve, of the board, while providing the stiffness and high performance that surfers desire.

For additional strength, Szabad laminates the stringer wood with fiberglass before delivering them to Pacific for machining. McClain uses a fixture made from particle board to hold the material in place on the GR-510. A vacuum system secures the fixture to the machine's table, and clamps hold the stringer material to the fixture.

McClain cuts the stringers with a 1/4-in. end mill for wood. The 11/2-min cutting cycle generates a lot of sawdust, but a vacuum system mounted next to the end mill clears away most of the loose debris. With cutting speeds up to 833 ipm, it doesn't take long to work through a stack of boards.

"Before we started cutting the stringers, Szabad was making them by hand using templates and a bandsaw," relates McClain. "On a good day, the company produced about 20 boards. By us cutting the parts on the gantry, it now makes up to 100 boards a day without too much trouble."

In addition to cutting the stringers, McClain uses the GR-510 to shape the foam for the softboards. The foam blanks sit on the machine's table and are cut to shape in four operations. Previously, workers at the surfboard company had to cut the foam by hand using routers and templates.

Haas Automation Inc. OXNARD, CALIF.

Monster welding and cutting equipment
SINCE JANUARY 20TH, when the Discovery Channel's hit series Monster Garage transformed a Chrysler PT Cruiser into a chipper/shredder, there's been another change on hand. Colorful host Jesse James and crew are now creating their monster-osities using welding and cutting equipment from Esab.

The welding and cutting products company supplies the show with a variety of equipment, including a MigMaster 250 Plus, MultiMaster 260 multiprocess machines, Heliarc 161 and 352 TiG/stick welders, PowerCutTM-650 and 1500 plasma cutters, and an Oxweld Trade Master gas outfit.

"The Esab equipment is extraordinary," comments James. "It has what it takes to keep up with our expert crews—high performance, innovative features, and reliability. Our projects require a combination of down-inthetrenches hard work and some off-the-wall ingenuity, and the Esab equipment delivers the results we're looking for."

There's ample, fast-paced welding and cutting action on screen, as the crew performs such outrageous feats as installing a Gatling-style air cannon—for package delivery, of course—on a Mac Tool step-vanturnedultimate-mail-truck. In the end, the modified monster must retain the look of the stock vehicle.

The Esab plasma cutters are particularly handy as the crew hacks and chops core vehicles to create alter-ego machines. With plasma gouging nozzles, the PowerCut machines, for instance, work well for removing previously welded or riveted parts.

Esab Welding & Cutting Products FLORENCE, S.C.

Software is key to shop's success
THE ACCURACY OF CARBON-FIBERcomposite parts built by the major aerospace OEMs depends on lay-up molds, jigs, and fixtures from UCAR Composites Inc. (UCI) in Irvine, Calif. Every tool the company produces must meet tight dimensional tolerances, on-time deliveries, and strict cost controls. UCI accomplishes all this using integrated-manufacturing and quality software from Lilly Software Associates.

For improving UCI's scheduling and job-costing procedures, Visual Manufacturing software keeps track of how long each operation takes, estimates delivery times, and produces schedules for the entire shop based on priorities selected by a scheduler. The software highlights any jobs that will not make due dates.

Schedulers can then make changes by adjusting the job priority or moving jobs to different resources. The program lets schedulers quickly evaluate multiple scenarios and determine their impact on the delivery dates of all jobs in the shop. Beyond tracking and prioritizing, the software provides a structure for measuring the cost of every individual component UCI produces, as is required by many ofits customers. Employees swipe a traveler with a barcode wand, indicating they've begun work on a specific operation. The software tracks the time they spend on each operation as well as the overall status of the job.

The time spent on a job instantly updates time and cost summaries maintained by the system. This means managers can, in seconds, determine the status of every job and its position versus the budget and schedule. Previously, managers walked onto the shop floor to check on a job.

UCI wrote its quality manual and procedures for ISO 9000 certification to match the automated procedures provided by Visual Quality software. The program automates the process of bringing non-conformances detected by the inspectors on the shop floor to the attention of engineers responsible for evaluating the process and finding a solution. It also automates the gage-calibration process by alerting maintenance personnel and issuing warnings not to use gages if safety limits are exceeded. In addition, the software notifies employees punching in if any engineering changes have occurred since the original traveler was issued.

Lilly Software Associates Inc. HAMPTON, N.H.

Lathe soars in aerospace production
ADDING AN ALPHA 800S CNC/manual center lathe has reduced manufacturing cycle times by as much as 40% for a range of high-precision aerospace components produced by Mettis Group company's Nu-Pro machining division, based in Stroud, U.K. Supplied by Derek Robinson Machine Tools, Leicester, U.K., the lathe's major assets include a large capacity and combination of performance and reliability.

The 800S's swing over bed measures 800 mm, distance between centers is 2 m, and maximum spindle speed is 1,500 rpm delivered by a 26-kW motor. The lathe does the work previously performed by two large vertical borers. It runs two shifts daily, manufacturing a range of engine and landing gear parts made from such material as aluminum, titanium, aluminum bronze, and S99 aircraft steel.

The shop attributes cycle time reductions to the 800S's ease-of-use. According to Mike Dixon, a Nu-Pro machinist, the lathe's Fanuc 21i control and AlphaLink software make the machine simple to learn and run, especially for complex machining operations that usually involve painstaking setups on lessfunctional machines. Also with the 800S, the shop completes difficult operations previously requiring a center lathe and hydraulic copy attachment. Because of its additional capacity, the lathe handles long internal contours and profiles on large components, adds Ken Chandler, Nu-Pro engineering manager.

Harrison 600Group WEST YORKSHIRE, U.K.

Balancing system has fans in steelmaking
EFFECIENCY IS CRUCIAL and downtime is deadly in the steelmaking industry. So U.S. Steel's Fairfield Works in Fairfield, Ala., had to fix balancing problems on its oxygen furnace induced-draft fans.

These 121-in.-diameter, 13-ton, double-wide, double-inlet fans pull air, gases, and materials off the basic oxygen furnace. Since these furnaces heat to 2,800° F, the fans are critical to successful steelmaking. Build up of particulate on the fan rotors created vibration and unbalance. It also forced the steel company to clean and manually balance the fans at least every three months.

According to Jim Mays, plant maintenance manager, manual balancing took between three and five attempts to be successful. This often resulted in a violation of the time recommended between starts on the motor, which created a high potential for motor failure. But more importantly, when a fan was stopped, so was the steelmaking process.

U.S. Steel solved its fan problems with an on-line balancing system from BalaDyne, a subsidiary of Lord Corp. The system continuously monitors fan vibration levels and phase angle as well as automatically corrects for unbalanced conditions. All of which is done while the fan is at operating speed, so there are no costly downtimes associated with manual balancing. The system also reduces fan cleaning to once yearly.

The balancing ring of the BalaDyne system mounts to the fan's shaft. Inside the ring are four chambers containing a special highspecific gravity-balancing fluid. When imbalance is detected, the fluid in the chamber on the heavy side heats up, changing from a liquid to a gas. This gas then transfers through a shuttle tube to the chamber on the light side where it condenses and returns to a liquid. This process continues until the controller senses that balance has been restored.

Lord Corp. CARY, N.C.

Shot blasting for a cleaner clean
ANTHONY LIFT GATES SOUGHT A faster alternative to chemical cleaning lift gates it makes for delivery vans, pickup trucks, and semitrailers to move heavy objects.

The company wished to increase production and use a cleaner substrate prior to a powder-coating process. A BCP 8-wheel structural shot-blast machine with monorail fit the bill—it lets lift gates go from blast to powder coating, to oven, to assembly, and on to shipping.

The fully automated system handles large fabricated steel weldments and is versatile enough for a variety of product styles, shapes, and cleaning speeds. Its features include heavy-duty TargetLok 20-hp blast wheels, a 36-in.-wide and 48-in.-high work envelope, air cannon blowoff, a wear-resistant blast chamber made of 12% manganese steel, and chamber zones lined with replaceable cast wear plates.

"The BCP system has greatly increased our production," say Tom Walker, president of Anthony Lift Gates, and Jeremy Walker, company vice president of sales and engineering. They also say that the system makes for an improved and more durable powder-coated surface. S170 steel shot provides the required profile necessary for powder coating and is reclaimable and reusable.

USF Surface Preparation Group LAKEWOOD, COLO.

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