Raym-Co Inc., located in Farmington, Conn., is a job shop with a 37,000 ft2 (3,065 m2) facility and approximately 60 CNC machines. The company prides itself in being a small-run job shop primarily serving the medical and semi-conductor fields, but after nearly 40 years in operation, the company decided to reinvent itself and purchase all-new, high-quality machines.
Going from low-quality, 30-year-old machines to brand-new, top-of-the-line machines was a huge investment for Raym-Co. As soon as the machines were installed, the company put them to work and the team was excited to see how well the equipment performed. After completing a few projects on the new CNC machines, Brandon Artibani, Raym-Co vice president, examined the efficiency of his shop’s production. Unfortunately, he discovered some concerns. “We definitely saw an increase in the ability to hold tolerances and a decrease in cycle time, but not as much as we had hoped,” he said.
Artibani explained the situation to Jim Roberts, sales engineer at Lindco, Raym-Co’s main point of contact with regard to tooling. After hearing Artibani’s concerns, Roberts suggested he try shrink-fit toolholders from Haimer USA LLC, Villa Park, Illinois, in his production. Artibani was hesitant at first because he had never heard of Haimer before and the price point was higher than what he was used to spending on toolholders.
“I just couldn’t justify spending more on a holder upfront. It
seemed irresponsible to spend that much just to have someone slam it into a vise,” he said. But after much discussion, he decided to consider it and set up a meeting with Roberts at Raym-Co’s facility. Roberts brought some sample toolholders to test in the new CNC machines; almost immediately, Artibani noticed the difference in the holders’ rigidity.
As soon as Artibani witnessed firsthand the benefits the Haimer shrink-fit system could provide, he asked Roberts to collaborate with Mike O’Connor, Haimer regional sales manager, to create a proposal for him. To start, O’Connor recommended Raym-Co invest in the Haimer Power Clamp Economic Plus NG with an adjustable coil and 15 toolholders. “It was at a certain price point where I was comfortable taking the next step,” Artibani explained.
When the machine and toolholders arrived, O’Connor visited Raym-Co to personally train and set up the equipment properly. “Mike is phenomenal and an excellent representative of the Haimer company,” stated Artibani. After installation, the shop began using the system on its own and almost instantly Artibani noticed the difference between the new shrink-fit holders and the low-quality toolholders he had been using. With the old equipment, Raym-Co had been cutting aluminum, on average, at 60 to 100 ipm (1.5-2.5 m/min) but with the new toolholders, it began cutting at 1,000 ipm (25 m/min). “Fifty percent of that increase was due to the new CNC machines but the other 50 percent was because of the shrink-fit system,” Artibani commented. “Without the holders, we couldn’t do that.”
Artibani quickly learned that holding tolerances was now effortless. Raym-Co was running at ±0.005 mm on location and on the hole size, without any additional effort. “A lot of that has to do with the fact that the holder runs so true that everything falls into place right off the bat,” he said.
When Raym-Co first invested in the Haimer shrink-fit system, the original application for the new toolholders was roughing. Artibani told his engineers to use only one Haimer Power Shrink Chuck for each roughing job, due to how much he had spent on the initial investment. But then, the engineers started to run tighter working tolerances and required additional standard shrink-fit holders. “We found that the tolerances were holding steady and tool life increased significantly,” Artibani said.
What Raym-Co learned was that using shrink-fit holders is a fast and consistent method of clamping cutting tools, according to Haimer. In five to ten seconds, a cutting tool can be changed out and it will be repeatable exactly the same way from operator to operator. This leads to a consistent setup, which translates into consistent part production and reliable tool life. On average, Raym-Co saw a 40 percent increase in tool life but there were some jobs where the increase was 200-300 percent. “It is now our main toolholder. From roughing to finishing, as long as it is an end mill, it goes into shrink fit,” said Artibani.
The Haimer Power Clamp Economic Plus NG can shrink solid-carbide and HSS end mills with diameters from 3-32 mm. Normally, the system comes with one base holder but O’Connor suggested that Raym-Co purchase an additional base. “We decided to go ahead and purchase the extra base so we could have one toolholder heating while another one was cooling, and that has made a huge difference,” said Artibani.
The high-performance coil, contact cooling and additional base of the Power Clamp Economic Plus NG guarantee simultaneous shrinking and cooling in record time, according to Haimer. Heating a toolholder takes 10 seconds while cooling takes 30-60 seconds. Raym-Co noticed that it did take 10 extra seconds to use the shrink-fit system compared to inserting the tool into a collet chuck, but, as Artibani explained, “we gain the time back because we don’t have to check the runout and play around with the tool, trying to get it to run true every time.” He even stated that he has never had even one of the Haimer toolholders run out.
“I would highly, highly, recommend the Haimer product to anybody who is looking into shrink fit,” said Artibani. Whenever he hears about a small shop considering shrink fit, he invites them to the shop to watch Raym-Co use the equipment. “At the end of the day, it is very simple to use. It may be scary at first, but once you learn how to use shrink fit it is very easy and safe to use,” he said. Artibani has actually convinced a few machinists to take the plunge with Haimer shrink-fit technology.
He also speaks highly of the service he has received from Haimer over the past four years. “The customer service that I have seen has been second to none,” Artibani said. “It is the best that I have ever experienced in all of my applications.” He also actively shares how Haimer products have impacted his production and the company. “The amount of time taken off every single job and the ability to trust the Haimer equipment at the levels I can now is worth every penny, if not more,” Artibani said. “My return on investment was probably more instantaneous than anything else I have purchased for the company.”
In addition to shrink fit, Raym-Co acquired a new balancing machine from Haimer in March 2020. However, due to COVID-19, Artibani has not been able to use it to its full potential. “I can’t wait to see what kind of benefits it brings as well,” he said.