What do you do with Oerlikon Balzers?
I’m the Head of Cutting Tools for the Americas. That means that I am responsible for the cutting tools business for North and South America — basically in Canada, Mexico, the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, all places where we are business present with our coating centers.
Tell us about the Oerlikon Balzers’ primeGear, and how it can benefit your customers?
Our primeGear is a successful product already being used in Europe, and we are planning to bring it to the U.S. by the end of 2020, beginning of 2021. It’s strictly for our customers who are machining gears. They would get the benefit of this new consulting process that can improve their performance. We would partner with them on an existing or new process improvement, monitoring their gear cutting processes and verifying the process stability.
If the process is not stable, we would make recommendations to help stabilize the process, because one of the prerequisites of primeGear is to have a stable process. Stable means the controlled run-out, predictable tool life, and tool change pre-established.
Essentially, Oerlikon Balzers’ primeGear is a consulting process where we map all the nuances of the process and make recommendations for maximizing productivity. And, on top of that, we will be applying some new technologies that we have in-house for PVD coatings and pre- and post-surface treatment. Pre- and post-edge treatment is more like optimization of microgeometry on the tool and the tool surface: primeGear is a reliable process to maximize the performance of the gear cutting process, maximizing the tooling coating, and microgeometry’s performance.
By the end of the consultation, we will be engaged in the customer process, and, if necessary, make recommendations about feeds and speeds, possibly reducing the part cycle time. Another outcome of the consulting process would be a dramatic increase in tool life, which would also help increase productivity, reducing downtime.
This comprehensive consulting analysis can make a big difference because you are using the expertise of someone who knows exactly how that edge of the tool should be, in terms of pre- and post-treatments, plus coating, as well as the overall experience of having a demanding market with extremely high standards, seeking quality and reliability in their processes. We will be able to help our customers to identify a stable application from an unstable one. Additionally, showing them the methodology to improve stability.
Ultimately, this complete service package can help manufacturers achieve savings up to 25 percent or more of the current cycle time.
How will it maximize savings on production costs?
Maximizing cycle time and improving cost savings could come from many different areas. On average, we are talking about 20 to 50 percent more tool life. Imagine how much more time you could have to produce parts instead of replacing tools in the machine. So, downtime is a really important part. Repeatability and reliability mean you have constant performance, and it’s something that many don’t have now.
Adding this post- and pre-treatment with the coating, you will also gain a possible maximized cutting parameter, because if the cutter or the process, in general, is stable, we can check the cutting parameters of our customers’ cutters and suggest improvements based on the coating that has been used. This means that if you’re running faster, then you will be reducing cycle time. We will be saving a lot of time. And time for these customers is critical. This is where the biggest savings are coming.
How does Oerlikon Balzers professional consulting service factor into the primeGear?
It’s imperative for us to have the proper relationship with the customer and create this kind of synergetic consulting service because sometimes customers need help in order to stabilize their processes.
So, we need to understand in detail what’s happening with that customer. To that end, maintaining confidentiality is always a part of our procedures. It’s extremely important that customers understand that we need to know how they are doing what they are doing so we can make the proper recommendations about improvements.
A typical example would involve run-out on some cutters. On hobs, we don’t need to be worried about that. When you are machining ring and pinion gears with stick blades, you have to have a very low radial and axial run-out. So, we need to find the customers who are not following those standards and not understanding the benefits of it, helping them to create a new culture of performance improvement to guarantee that the outcome will be what is expected.
Tell us about Oerlikon Balzers’ high-speed coating solution.
That would be Balinit Altensa. This is one of the best coatings that we have in our portfolio when the subject is gear cutting. There are several different coatings that could be used for gear cutting and Altensa is the No. 1 solution. It’s a solution that could be offered in all Balzers coating centers. Sharing the No. 1 position with Altensa, we also have another excellent coating called Alcrona Pro, which is probably the most versatile coating offered by Balzers.
While Altensa was engineered specifically for gear cutting. Alcrona Pro was developed to be a multi-application coating. I highly recommend it for any kind of application, even if you are not planning to use primeGear. It’s important to have a really reliable coating on your tool. If customers are looking for improvements, something that they could use to improve their performances, Altensa and Alcrona Pro would be the solution.
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