Tool Holder System Supports Rapid Tool Change


W groove toolholder
INDEX W-Groove Toolholder





An innovative, positive positioning W-serration on the bottom of the INDEX tool holder bodies, which matches the surface on the turret, assure changing repeatability of ± 8 µm and high rigidity. Appropriate for fixed and driven tools, the positioning system supports longer tool life, faster tool changes, and high repetitive accuracy.

For example, each position on each 14-station turret of the INDEX C series automatic lathes is equipped for preset driven tools, and permit very fast cycle times even for small batches.

Quickly and reliably preset off-machine, the tool holders are designed for use in INDEX automatic lathes and turn mills. They lock onto the machine turret with only one hardened screw, and because of the INDEX-designed tool holder mating surface, the tool location is always extremely repeatable and rigid.

The W-grooves are compatible with VDI DIN69880 (ISO/ FDIS10889-1).

W groove turret
W-Groove Turret


As a retrofit kit from INDEX, the company can change existing turrets quickly and economically on its C42/65, G160, G200, G250, G300, G400, V160, V300 machines.

W groove tool holder

INDEX Control C200-AD SL: User Friendly Controller and Software Packages for 5-Axis Machining


The Index Control C200-4D SL is based on the Siemens Sinumerik S840D solution line, and then enhanced by INDEX with user-friendly features. Specially developed cycles simplify even the most complex machining operations, supporting multi-axis milling and turning operations and providing maximum functional reliability.

On a recent visit to Task Force Tips (TFT), a maker of fire suppression nozzles, we talked with Cory Mack, Production Supervisor, who commented, “There are so many features of the Siemens control that when tied to Esprit software, it became the easiest machine to setup of all the mill-turns. Our programmer has told us that when he looks at a part that he does not think will run faster on the INDEX machines, he finds that the machine often ends up cutting the time in half. When he sees a job that is well-suited, it can cut the time by as much as 70 percent.

During our visit we also talked with Brandon Marcotte, R300 operator and programmer, who championed the machines. An experienced INDEX C machine operator, Brandon is a young man that came to TFT with an interest in machining and is now operating C series automatic lathes, as well as the R300’s.

“Learning programming to machine the Blitzfire XX600 (aluminum nozzle body part) was not difficult,” Brandon said. “We split the program into two-part simultaneous with the R300 to get the time to 14 minutes. The robot with 10 kg capacity loads one part at a time, taking finished part off while the machine internally transfers the part from one side to the other. Seems like a big animal, but it was not really.”

According to Brandon, “The biggest challenge programming the INDEX machine is balancing the work load between the two heads so we could get the most benefit out of the machines — changing fixtures, for example. I didn’t feel the programming was too much of a challenge – just two milling heads on spindles. We were familiar with the control. We have used both Siemens and Fanuc, and in our experience, the Siemens is quicker and more advanced without over-complicating the process.

“We got the INDEX Virtual Machine simulation software before we got the R300; we installed it on my computer so that I could work with the fully simulated machine before it even got here. And we could write posts for the machine before it arrived. So we knew what we were posting out of the CAM software would not alarm-out the machine.”

The INDEX VirtualLine software packages make the new turning/milling center efficient to operate right from the very first workpiece. VirtualLine guides the NC programmer and operator to the right solution for the machining task – both on the PC during the preparation stage and directly at the machine in the factory. With the 3D simulation of the INDEX Virtual Machine, machining programs can be created, verified, and optimized on the PC. The optional CNC Programming Studio provides advanced support for programming and operating the INDEX R300.

“VM made it one of the smoothest machine installations we’ve ever had, and because the VM is specific to the machine, it is fully reliable. It is the machine control itself, unlike other general programming simulation software,” Brandon pointed out.

“All this capability has put us very far ahead in machining capacity, the ability to do more,” said Production Supervisor Cory Mack.

“It’s not that we bought a ton of new machines, it’s that we bought the right machines. “

It started with Chairman and CEO Stewart McMillan’s vision of what the company could do with the right machines.

At TFT, the INDEX machines actually help conserve valuable capital dollars for the company and permit it to turn out very high quality parts in short cycles, resulting in lower per-piece costs, and helping them stay ahead of the competition.

Index R300 5-Axis Machining: Unexpected Process Improvement for Machine Shop


Robot loading station

At Task Force Tips (TFT), a maker of nozzles, valve bodies and other components for fire suppression and water delivery equipment, introduction of the INDEX R300 resulted in an additional benefit while running the important Blitzfire XX600 aluminum nozzle body part, used in firefighting equipment.

Production Supervisor Cory Mack commented, “We discovered the R300 provided a lot more opportunity for process improvement than we expected – simultaneous complete machining, reaching all the features of the part plus a deburring pass—all in one setup. This got the Blitzfire XX600 done in 15 minutes complete including deburring, so we saved not only cycle time but man-hours in deburring.

“We added a loading robot. Parts are staged and the robot self-loads. This allowed very good process improvement on this part.

“Once you have the machine programmed and take the human element out of the operation – deburring – you really save the time. It is like a free operation.

“We thought we could shorten the cycle time, but we had not considered the rigidity of the machine and its positive effect on the part quality and the capability of the two milling heads for simultaneous machining. Plus, the tool magazine location and capacity supports faster more complete processing of our parts. Even simple parts are run faster.

“And with the greater machining capability, the design engineers started picking up on what the manufacturing floor can do. In my experience, it is almost like the engineers have a feel for what we can do and design parts to take advantage of that. The result is improved designs and improved quality for our customers.”

5-Axis Machining Boosting Productivity at Task Force Tips in Valparaiso, IN



5 Axis Machining improves productivity on this part

The Chairman/CEO of Task Force Tips (TFT), a maker of nozzles, valve bodies and other components for fire suppression and water delivery equipment, comments, “We started this quest for efficient multitasking in the early ‘90s and lessons learned helped us move forward.”

When we visited the plant, the part running on the machine was a Blitzfire XX600 aluminum nozzle body, used in firefighting equipment. When it was introduced by TFT, the company machined it in four operations in 2.5 hours per piece in two lathe operations and two mill operations.

“The first two operations on the lathe were boring and secondary boring plus milling some detail–very time consuming,” Production Supervisor Cory Mack said. “First operation was expensive because we had to have our highest paid personnel on it setting it up and running it; the bore had to be indicated on each casting. Shimming the casting and tapping it around with a brass hand tool to get it located was how we got the initial correct runout set on the parts.

“Second operation was more finished, loading part on a Positrol ID workholding. Then to milling –two operations –on a third different machine because we could not get to all the features on the horizontal lathe without doing it in two operations.

“All these operations created burrs, which required a secondary manual deburring operation so it could be assembled. All these operations and part handling amounted to 2.5 hours per part not including deburring.

“Then we put the part on the Mori NT multitasker, with one turret and one motorized millhead. At this point we also started with Esprit CAD/CAM software. And although the part was done in one operation, the cycle time was still about 35 minutes. A nice improvement for us, but the NT has some clearance issues in our case, and we could not get all the deburring done on it. And it had some extreme tool overhangs.”

Then Chairman and CEO Stewart McMillan saw the R300 at an IMTS.

“When we put the Blitzfire XX600 on the R300, we were not looking for a tremendous improvement in cycle time, but we did like the possibility of simultaneous machining with two motorized millheads,” mentioned Supervisor Cory Mack.

“We put some of our larger volume parts – 5000 parts per year – on the machines—couplings and nozzles that require a range of milling, turning, threading operations. With the tool capacity, the machines can work unattended. The two R300s eliminate the need for four multitasking machines,” Cory said.

Saving Time and Cycles with 5-Axis Turn-Mill


Features and Benefits of the INDEX R300

One of the main features of the INDEX R300 is two independent 5-axis subsystems, each with one motorized milling spindle and one assigned work spindle. This configuration enables the R300 to completely machine complex parts, short bars up to 102 mm and chucking up to 315 mm diameter, simultaneously. The machine is geared toward applications where larger chuck parts require a large amount of milling and drilling work, such as machine and farm machinery construction, in tool and mold making or in the aerospace industry.

From very simple to highly complex components, the main benefit is that the complex machining operations are possible simultaneously on the front and rear side – and, at the same time, are highly productive with the two motorized milling spindles.

Ideal for difficult milling operations, the R300 is also capable of hobbing or deep-hole drilling with single-lip tools and high-pressure coolant to 80  bar to the tool edge through the motorized milling spindle.

Minimal Setup Times and Short Secondary Processing Times

The R300 can carry out full rear end machining as well as parallel machining with identical sequences. Both heavy-duty roughing operations and fine-turning operations can be completed simultaneously on the main spindle and counter spindle. A large number of tools (up to 140 tools in the double-chain magazine) ensure short setup times even for small batches. The tool storage capacity also allows the user to store enough tools for complete processing of several different parts. Changeover is just a matter of choosing the program.

The 12 stationary tools on the tool strips of both milling spindles bring the total number of tools to 152 tools available for a nearly unlimited range of operations and machining flexibility. Both milling spindles can perform tool changes completely independently of one another. The use of HSK tool holders reduces the tool costs, as live tool holders are no longer necessary.

The option of operating the machine with a short bar loader with few personnel is only one of several automated handling solutions. For handling a larger series of chuck parts, the machine can be outfitted with integrated robot loading.

System Stability and Rigidity Adds Value

A very rigid system, the R300 is less susceptible to vibrations, which has a positive effect on the precision of the finished parts and on the tool life, allowing for production of clean, smooth surfaces and eliminating the need for secondary deburring of critical bores.

The two quill-guided motorized milling spindles are located in the center of the machine bed. Due to the arrangement of the axes, conventional cross-slides with tool carriers are no longer necessary. When combined with the play-free and wear-free hydrostatic circular guide, the R300 is a system with very high stiffness.

The B-axis swivel range of 270 degrees and the rapid traverse rate of 45 m/min support machining flexibility and high-speed operation. The identical turning spindles with the same synchronous design have maximum power rating of 47 kW, a maximum speed of 3500 rpm, and a peak torque of 690 Nm.

INDEX R300 5-Axis Turn-Mill Results in Unprecedented Cycle Time Improvement

INDEX R300 5 Axis Turn MillTask Force Tips (TFT) in Valparaiso, IN makes multiple different size and design nozzles, valve bodies, and other components for fire suppression and water delivery equipment for the forestry, municipal, and industrial firefighting markets as well as for aircraft deicing. As a result, TFT does many short runs of hundreds of different part designs.

The company is dedicated to creating the means for firefighters to be as effective as possible in dousing the flames, performing just about every task in-house from engineering through machining, assembly and testing. Within its fully integrated production plant, about 98% of the work is done in-house by more than 200 employees.

It is a highly team-oriented workforce which is encouraged to think of better ways to do what they do. TFT invested in a range of automatic lathes from INDEX Corporation that create opportunities for programmers and operators to come up with better processes.

TFT recently installed the R300, a simultaneous 5-axis turn-mill. The unit has allowed the company to reduce cycle times for key parts to a range they never could have imagined. The result has been further improved part quality, even less processing time per finished part, and greatly expanded production capacity in the well-equipped shop.

80% Faster Cycle Time, Better Quality

Index MS 52CDifficult material, slow spindle speeds, cycle times from 5-9 minutes per part prompted a move to an INDEX MS52. Cycle times were cut 75-80% and production bottle necks were eliminated.

An Index user producing parts for chemical processing was experiencing extended, weeks-long backlogs in the production of its tube fittings. The parts are of exotic materials and high temp alloys, hastelloy and inconels primarily.

The plant had been producing the parts in a single setup on two-spindle CNC lathes. But because of the tough material, cycle times were long. When customers order parts, they need delivery of the critical parts quickly, as do customers in every industry.

Previously, the shop had run these parts on two-spindle, two-turret lathes with live tools in a lengthy process. Due to the hardness of the material, the cycle times were up to five times longer than they would be on 316 stainless.

Index MS52C with backworkingLooking for a way to improve production turnaround, the company investigated the Index multispindle CNC automatic lathes. Its first investment was a used 6-spindle Index MS32, capable of handling bar stock to 32 mm. When that process worked well, it invested in an Index MS52 multispindle CNC lathe with bar capacity to 52 mm.

Moving machining to the Index multispindle from two-spindle, two-turret lathes brought major benefits: one of the part cycle times, for example, went to 75 sec. on the MS 52 from 9.5 minutes on the lathes. Scrap was reduced to near zero, a major improvement. The MS52 was a large investment, but the value was evident.


Gear Cutting on a Turn-Mill

index bevel gearThe INDEX bevel gear hobbing package consists of a specially designed control cycle and four INDEX cutter heads with module-dependent inserts. Equipped with these features INDEX turn-mill centers can produce in short cycles spiral bevel gears from bar stock, with front and rear end machining, complete in one setup or as a pure two-spindle gear cutting machine.

The ability of the turn-mills to complete gear-part machining on the front and rear ends simultaneously results in shorter total cycle times and lower cost per piece.

By hobbing using a continuous indexing method – which corresponds to the Klingelnberg Cyclo-Palloid® method 1) – spiral bevel gears can be produced with constant tooth height in a module range of 0.6 to 4 mm.

Compared to the conventional process chain with classic gear cutting machines, users can achieve shorter cycle times and better geometry and position tolerances. And it is much more flexible.

b)^ index bevel gearBevel gear cutting requires a machine with high rigidity and a B-axis as the basis. Due to their excellent static, dynamic and thermal properties, the innovative turn-mill centers of the INDEX R-series are well-suited to gear-cutting. The R machines’ axis configuration with two milling spindles on Y-B-axes running in hydrostatic bearings makes it possible to machine on the main and counter spindle simultaneously in five axes.

Cam Machines Are a Thing of the Past

Focusing on the replacement of cam-controlled multi-spindle lathes up to 22 mm bar diameter, the new extended version INDEX MS16 Plus of the MultiLine series is a modular design, 6-spindle CNC multi-spindle lathe. In each work spindle position, the machine can simultaneously accomplish two or more operations, dropping complete parts in very short cycles.

According to INDEX engineers, it replaces the widely used but costly to set up fast cam-controlled multi-spindle lathes that still dominate the market when it comes to machining workpieces of simple to moderate complexity.

The INDEX MS16 Plus combines the speed of a cam-controlled machine with the flexibility of CNC technology, yet is extremely compact (1,300 mm width), requiring no more space than current cam-controlled multi-spindle machines.

The MS16 Plus offers exceptional ease of setup and more versatile machining options compared to cam-controlled machines. To keep up with the speed and efficiency of cam-controlled multi-spindle lathes for small parts up to 22 mm diameter, the INDEX engineers added a number of innovations to the multitasking MS16 Plus.

Figuring the Payback on Capital Equipment

Many companies in the United States, it often seems, try to justify the purchase of capital equipment based on a 2-3 year payback. This forces the purchase of less expensive or dedicated machines at the outset and ignores the impact of new parts and new work beyond that in 5-6 years.

It may cost more today to account for the possibilities in 5-6 years, but making a foresighted decision now actually can avoid future capital expense.  Remember, today’s capable machines have a useful life far beyond 2 years.

There are a number of ways to evaluate the payback of new technology.  Doing a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis can help you to make a good decision on whether to buy an expensive or less expensive machine.

ROI analysis indicates how the investment will impact a company’s cash flow, based upon the revenues and expenses associated with the project. ROI is given as a percentage rate of return.

The company performing the ROI analysis must determine the rate of return for the investment based on the project cost and the impact the investment would have on its cash flow.  Once the rate of return is determined, the company must then determine if it is an acceptable rate of return. Typically, a 20% or greater rate of return is considered acceptable. For more on this, contact [email protected].