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Tooling boosts productivity eight-fold

Tooling boosts productivity eight-fold

New milling cutters helped to increase machining center output at Brighton Machine.

Brighton NC Machine ( in Brighton, Mich., is a low-overhead shop that is constantly striving to improve its efficiency through any means that make its machining processes better, faster and cheaper. But for one demanding job, the shop strained to meet delivery dates.

The job involved three-piece exhaust manifolds machined from heat-resistant ductile iron castings for one of Brighton's automotive customers. The shop cuts the parts on four high-speed Mitsubishi horizontal machining centers and must hold critical flatness and surface-finish tolerances on multiple manifold faces.

"The customer's truck was here every day for those parts. We needed to improve cycle times on the parts or we were going to have to add machines to keep up," says Patrick Barton of Brighton.

Instead of adding machines, the shop turned to Widia Heinlein M750 HexaCut milling cutters recommended by a sales engineer from Kennametal Inc. ( The new cutting tool helped Brighton to increase manifold productivity eight-fold.

Brighton rough and finish mills manifolds with the M750 cutters, which feature adjustable-wedge clamping systems that hold indexable hexagonal double-sided roughing and finishing inserts with 12 total cutting edges. The cutters' Kyon ceramic inserts are designed for ductile iron, and negative cutting angles help to ensure smooth milling with low cutting forces. The M750s cut manifolds at 240 ipm. Brighton's previous cutters topped out at 30 ipm.

"Where we were faced with having to add more machines, we are now moving more work to our existing horizontals. We've freed up a lot of capacity, and tool life is longer," says Barton.

This means the shop saves even more time because it is not indexing and changing inserts as often as it had to with its other cutters.

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