By Jack Burley
Many shops are unaware that a lot of their spindles are BIG-PLUS, so they don’t realize the capabilities they possess that this system provides. If you identify these spindles on your floor and want to start taking advantage of them, there are some things you should know
I was recently chatting with our friends at SPS Spindle Parts and Service, LLC (Goffstown, NH). They are, to my understanding, the only certified BIG-PLUS® spindle grinder in America that performs onsite regrinds. Chris Vigneault, their onsite grinding manager, explained that most of their onsite visits, BIG-PLUS or not, are the result of a crash or poor drawbar retention that allows a tool to loosen in the spindle. That isn’t usually surprising news, but Vigneault explained that their testing and examination process often does reveal something else that is very surprising for customers: “One of the things that most customers are unaware of is that a lot of their spindles are BIG-PLUS and they simply don’t know it,” he said. “Not all, but a lot of customers lately are looking for that ability and just don’t know that they already have it.”
This is common after the purchase of a used machine tool, but shops are even more surprised when they hear this news about new machines. There are a couple of reasons this happens:
All of which begs the question, how do you find out if you have a BIG-PLUS spindle?
We have learned over the years which builders are making their spindles to BIG-PLUS as a standard or as an option, and on which models. So when I visit a customer or talk to them over the phone, I ask what brands of machines they use and compare this with the master list of authorized machine tool builders for BIG-PLUS. However, the easiest way to figure it out is to place a standard tool into the spindle and see how much of a gap there is between the tool holder flange face and spindle face. Without BIG-PLUS, the standard gap should be visible, or about .12 in. If it is BIG-PLUS, the gap is half of this amount, or only .06 in. These values change depending on 30 taper, 40 taper or 50 taper sizes, but the gap is visibly less than usual.
If you identify BIG-PLUS spindles on your floor and you want to start taking advantage, there are some things you should know. First, if you’ve been using standard V-flange tools in that spindle, you likely won’t be able to realize the full benefits of the system. Over time, standard tooling will wear the spindle in ways that change its geometries. “We were just at a shop in Connecticut checking out a BIG-PLUS spindle,” recalled Vigneault. “Because of the way it wears when you don’t use BIG-PLUS tooling – which is exactly the way this customer was using the machine – the face was very heavy, or oversized. If we were grinding it back into spec, it would probably take quite a bit of work. We would have to take a lot of material off the face to get there.”
Because both taper and face contact are what make the system shine, the geometry is critical. If someone trying to transition to BIG-PLUS tooling after learning they have the spindle doesn’t understand that, they won’t experience the performance they expect. There’s also the factor of maintenance.
If a shop didn’t know it had BIG-PLUS machines, it’s a safe bet they didn’t take the preventive steps to help preserve the crucial geometry. These include keeping the spindle, tools and carts clean; misaligned automatic tool changer arms can also harm a BIG-PLUS spindle. These very reasons are why we offer spindle and tool taper cleaners, as well as arm alignment tools. Also, resist the temptation to use less expensive, unlicensed dual-contact tools if you want to give the system a shot. These tool makers do not have the master gauges necessary to create the correct geometry . . . for reference, read my Depth of Cut column titled “Is BIG-PLUS an International Standard?” It shares comparative test results and details the risks.
There’s really one proven way to restore a BIG-PLUS spindle to proper specifications: with a certified regrind. Just as tool makers need the right gauges and measuring devices, so do spindle grinders. If you discover you have BIG-PLUS spindles and want to take advantage, keep these factors in mind to see what the system can do.
Jack Burley is the vice president of sales and engineering at BIG KAISER Precision Tooling Inc., 2600 Huntington Boulevard, Hoffman Estates, IL 60192, 847-228-4011, Fax: 847-228-0881, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.bigkaiser.com.
Next Generation Tooling is excited to announce that we have been chosen as he exclusive agent for Northern California and Nevada by Somta Tools.
In December 2016, OSG partnered with Somta Tools (Pty) Ltd. Founded in 1954, SOMTA is South Africa’s largest manufacturer of round cutting tools including Drills, Reamers, End Mills, Bore Cutters and Taps which are available in a wide range of sizes using various materials and quality surface coatings to extend tool life.
Somta Tools History
Somta Tools was founded in 1954 by Samuel Osborn Ltd of Sheffield, England. The name Somta is an acronym derived from the names of Samuel Osborn (founder of Osborn Steels U.K.), and Robert Mushet (the 19th century inventor of High Speed Steel).
The full name is actually Samuel Osborn Mushet Tools Africa.
Somta started out producing Twist Drills, Reamers, Toolbits and Chisels with a complement of about 20 employees.
Somta Tools Mission is to manufacture and supply superior cutting tools, driven by a culture of service excellence, to global markets.
One of Somta’s claims to fame is that its former parent company produced the first Twist Drill made from High Speed Steel. Prior to 1870, twist drills were made from a flat piece of steel and then physically twisted, hence the name. Thereafter the flutes were produced on milling machines until the grinding method arrived.
One milestone worth a mention is when Somta Tools purchased a Hertlein drill flute grinding machine in 1963, even before the parent Sheffield company bought one. This machine is still in operation today. This machine grinds the flutes of a drill (up to 13mm diameter) in one pass in a solid hardened blank. This was unheard of in those days.
Growth at Somta: 1963 – 1999
Somta gradually grew in both output and number of employees. Numerous products were added to the range during this period. In 1979 the company was purchased by Haggie Ltd, one of the largest steel rope manufacturers in the world. The South African mining sector was their biggest market.
Continued Growth at Somta Tools in the 1980’s
With Haggie as its owner, Somta progressed and accelerated its growth. This was achieved by investment in capital equipment and by acquisition.
Introduction of Friction Welding (HSS body, EN9 shank)
Somta Tools introduced friction welding in 1980, the first cutting tool company to do this outside of the UK.
Introduction of CNC Grinding Machines
In the early 1980’s, CNC grinding machines were being developed in the USA and Europe for this industry. Somta purchased a number of these machines. This technology ensured greater consistency in quality and enabled Somta to enter and compete in world markets.
Clarkson & Mitco Acquisition
Somta Tools acquired Clarkson Tap and Die South Africa (conveniently located next door) in 1982 and Mitco Tools Pietermaritzburg in 1984. Clarkson had about 60 employees and Mitco about 160. The Mitco premises were closed with all of the employees and machinery moving to the present Somta site at Edendale Road.
Factory Expansion & Divisions
Working space was at a premium with so many more people and additional equipment. It was therefore necessary to extensively add factory space. It was decided to establish separate factories for product types, for instance Steel Stock and Blank Prep, Drills, Taps, End Mills and other factories.
Each factory had its own manager who was responsible for hiring staff, training, quantity, quality, cost etc. This occurred in 1986 and this concept remains today. The employees in each factory became product specialists.
Change of Ownership: 1999 – Present
In 1999 Haggie decided to ‘unbundle’ its non-core or non-mining related companies, of which they had quite a few. Somta was then purchased by Brooke Industrial Holdings in the UK. Unfortunately Brooke ran into difficulties in 2003 and went into liquidation. Somta Tools then underwent a management buyout largely funded by the SCMB (Standard Corporate Merchant Bank).
US $2M Investment in Balzers Coating Plant:
Immediately after the MBO in 2003, Somta Tools integrated a state of the art Balzers PVD Rapid Coating System into it’s manufacturing programme, offering the innovative range of Balzers BALINIT® high performance coatings on all cutting tools. This has enabled Somta to offer coated cutting tools to compete with the very best high tech tool producers in the world.
Somta Workers Get 7.5% Stake
In late 2010, Somta Tools launched an empowerment initiative through the establishment of the Somta Employees’ Trust, which gave the company’s 500 employees a collective 7,5% stake in the company.
This all came about when management bought-out, and restructured the company, from its main shareholder, SCMB (Standard Corporate Merchant Bank). The deal was part of the company’s broad-based black economic empowerment strategy in its attempt at initiating its own “African Renaissance” with the aim of making employees feel like they are part of something great.
Carbide Production Facility Expansion
In 2012 Somta Tools invested over ten million rand that year alone on state-of-the art CNC equipment, which saw the company quadruple its carbide tool manufacturing capacity, thereby improving delivery times.
Included in this investment was a Walter Helicheck Basic 3, for non-contact complete measurement of rotationally symmetrical precision tools with complex geometry, which significantly improves quality and inspection procedures as well as 7 other machines with a further 3 to be added.
This expansion allowed for a dedicated test and training facility which included the addition of a HAAS VF-3YT CNC vertical machining centre, to test, run and enhance current and new tool designs, as well as for training purposes.
Somta Tools can now utilize its state-of-the art R&D facility to find solutions to difficult machining applications or material types. SOMTA is able to simulate the production conditions so that their customers no longer have to break into critical production lines to conduct testing. No other facility on the African continent boasts the combined manufacturing, measuring, coating and testing capabilities.
Company StatisticsProduct Distribution
Somta Tools has about 370 distributors in South Africa making it the market leader. Somta exports to 70 countries around the world. 58% of sales are to the export market. Somta sells to distributors, catalogue houses and a number of other cutting tool manufacturers worldwide.
Product Range Today
Somta Tools offers 7 000 standard items, and a further 3 000 made-to-order items, to DIN, ISO, ANSI and JIS standards, as well as custom tools to drawing.
Somta Tools currently employs more than 400 people in total, which includes the Johannesburg sales office and warehouse.
Somta Tools has separate factories for Blank Prep, Heat Treatment, Drills, End Mills, Taps, Reamers, Specials, Carbide and Coating all on one site.
A world class provider of cutting tools. This vision is supported by being ISO 9002 which was achieved in 1991 and ISO 9001 in 2003 and 2008.
In case you missed How Its Made, Season 24, episode 9, featured a show on 5TH Axis Metalworking Vises!
Check it out over lunch!
The EXOTAP® A-Tap® is an all-purpose tap series designed to simplify tool management and to excel in a wide variety of materials and applications.
The EXOTAP® A-Tap® is made from powdered metal HSS and has OSG's patented V coating to achieve excellent wear resistance.
The spiral flute series has adopted a variable helix flute design, which encourages stable chip evacuation and reduces cutting forces. The spiral point series has unique geometry that enables greater chip control that can help produce tightly compacted chips for easy ejection from the hole.
Ideally suited for:
2018 is looking good!! Techniks new catalog is at the press and is available on the Techniks website for digital download.
You can click the link above or the picture below to get your copy or give a call and we'll drop on off to your shop!
We are very excited to announce that David Edge has joined the Next Generation Tooling team. David has a wealth of experience from his 45+ years in the metalcutting industry. He not only knows the technical aspects of cutting tool applications but also the procedural functions that are important to manufacturers, Industrial distributors and machinery dealers.
David began his career in 1972 as a manufacturing engineer in turning applications, with Pneumatic Auto Turret lathes, Tracer lathes and manual Turret lathes. He cut his teeth in sales for 11 years as a cutting tool specialist for Valenite in the Bay area.
He moved north to work for RTW and Iscar where he managed Washington, Oregon and Western Canada for the many aerospace applciations in that area. In 2012 he moved back to the Bay area to manage Northern California for Tungaloy.
David also brings first hand experience as a distributor from his time at J&L Industrial Supply and Aronson-Campbell Industrial Supply as a carbide application engineer. He has a deep understanding of what the expectations are of a industrial distributor from a manufacturer.
David also has an inside knowledge of the expectations of a machine tool dealer from his time back in the late 1980's working at Selway Machine Tools.
We are very excited to announce that effective October 1, 2017 we will be representing Precision Cutting Tools Inc. in the California and Nevada market areas.
Precision Cutting Tools Inc. was founded in 1963 and ever since has specialized in the production of high-quality cutting tools. Today, with over fifty years of experience, PCT is a leading cutting tool manufacturer that distributes its products all across the United States and Mexico.
They have based their company’s success on their long-standing commitment to satisfy our customers’ needs, by utilizing the finest raw materials, introducing innovative cutting tools and providing excellent customer service.
We look froward to working with them to develop new Carbide, Cobalt & Powdered Metal end mill and drill substrates and geometries that will meet the material cutting needs we find uniquely on the West Coast.
We think you are in for a a real treat once we see what we're working on with PCT!!!
Our blog section is written by several different people. Sometimes, it from our team here at Next Generation Tooling at other times it's by one of the wonderful manufacturer's we represent in California and Nevada