Cutting manufacturing costs in Idaho

Swiss-type machine allows paper-punching machine maker to bring pin production in-house

Posted on 10 Apr 2014 and read 2843 times
Cutting manufacturing costsIdaho-based Performance Design has been designing and manufacturing paper-punching machines for almost 20 years; today, it has 25 employees and a 20,000sq ft facility where it manufactures some 20 different product lines.

Until late 2012, the company was out-sourcing round, oval, square and rectangular metal pins used to punch paper. Diameters are between 1/8in and 5/16in, and the pins are about 2in long — including a 1/8in head that is gripped by the punching machine (about 1in of the pin punches through the paper.)

Project engineer Steven Parker says: “Until recently, we had our pins made externally, but we knew that our manufacturing processes needed to change dramatically for us to remain competitive, so we started to search for turning centres. We went to IMTS, looked at four machines, and selected the one we wanted.”

Just before ordering the machine chosen, Mr Parker met his local Tornos salesman, who gave him details of the Tornos Swiss ST 26 machine ( When Mr Parker realised that this machine could make the oval pins, square pins and rectangular pins using the same round stock, he went to see it being demonstrated.

“What we had to do was take the raw material from a round shape down to a square cross-section. If you do it with a single end mill, by the time you get down to your third or fourth flat, you have nothing supporting the cut from the other side. The Swiss ST 26 can undertake balanced milling, whereas every other machine we looked at in the same price range had one tool platen.

Cutting manufacturing costs 2“With the Swiss ST, we can have two identical end mills ‘pinching’ the material and supporting it. They hold it straight so we not only get the raw-material benefits but can also produce all 13 of our different pin shapes out of just two raw materials — 1/4 and 3/8in round 12L14 steel. We have also eliminated manual labour on pin-head assembly.

"When we were using the square material, we had to drill a cross-hole and then hammer in a roll pin to act as that head. Now, we leave a round head at the end of the square pins. It looks a lot better, and it saves us assembly time.

“With this being our first screw machine, we were worried about the change-over times — changing collets and guide bushes for each pin. However, with just two material types, change-over times are minimal.”

To eliminate noise and make it easier for customers to use the punches, Performance Design’s Rhin-O-Tuff pin sets come in a 15-pin stagger. These were perfect for automation, so the company bought a parts carousel with 15 bins on it.

“Tornos helped us set it up and helped us out with a macro. Now, we simply program in how many we want of each pin; the macro built into each program will switch to the next length and index the carousel.

We’re planning to eventually run this system ‘lights out’ and get all of our pin production done during the night, leaving time during the day to make parts that take a little more surveillance.”

The new Tornos has allowed Performance Design to significantly reduce its inventory, with a 60% saving in material stocks and a 50% cut in work-in-progress. The company has also reduced its lead times from 10 days to just four.

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