Clay East, Grip Systems Product Manager, Iscar Metals Inc.

1. How important is the right tooling for medical manufacturers?

GRIP products are for front-turning, back-turning, grooving, parting, and threading processes used frequently in medical machining. Since a majority of this work is done on Swiss machines, products need to be designed for the tight work envelopes of these compact machines. Manufacturing success can’t be achieved simply by shrinking down standard-sized tooling and hoping it works. Since the release of our revolutionary part-off system in 1978, Iscar has continually introduced systems that are simple, free of mechanical clamps and offer molded top-rake geometry to improve productivity and chip evacuation. Since that time, we have taken this approach to the Swiss machining environment addressing ease of use and minimal downtime.

2. How do GRIP products meet the needs of Swiss machining?

One example is SwissCut Innoval, which takes the time-consuming process of removing the screw completely to index the insert and removing the tool from the machine due to screw access. SwissCut Innoval requires only three turns to remove/replace the insert. Machinists can access both front and back clamping mechanisms from either side, allowing them to change an insert without removing the tool, which saves time. This design also eliminates the downtime and frustration of dropping a tiny screw into a pile of chips.

3. How do Iscar’s GRIP products help reduce inventory and increase productivity in medical part machining?

Users can have multiple inserts for multiple applications in a single tool. The SwissCut Innoval line has inserts that all fit into the same pocket, reducing shop inventory. There is no longer the need to house a range of holders for the required operations. With smaller machines comes limited tool posts, but today’s multi-function tools can take a process that used to require five to six tools down to one – an ID tool is able to function as a boring bar, perform threading for OD and ID work, and be used as a turning tool. Machinists gain flexibility by having more options with fewer tools. Iscar’s PICCO MFT line of tooling is an example of such innovation, which also gives you 5µm repeatability when used with the PICCO ACE holder.

4. What are the first things to look for when increasing a shop’s manufacturing processes?

First would be to see if they have changed over to indexable tooling. If a shop looks like they are running operations 25 years ago, using in-house grinding operations, they are limiting the precision work they can achieve. We often hear in small- to medium-sized shops, “It’s always been done this way.” Those wanting to advance efficiency are the ones asking, “How can you update our approach?” This is where the line of GRIP products answers the need to update, offering an insertable compact design, quick and easy tool maintenance, long tool life, repeatability, suitability for a range of applications, and the ability to be engineered for optimal solutions.

5. Where do cost-savings enter if you switch over inserts and tooling?

The savings come first from not having to spend a lot of money and time on tools. When using the range of GRIP products, as one tool goes dull the machinist unscrews the insert, installs a new one, and resumes the cycle. This delivers increased uptime, a large benefit when compared to shops that spend time grinding out tools. Also eliminated are tool grinder, grinding wheels, and the tool grinder machinist.