Rockford company reduces lead time for military cast spare parts from 6-12 months to 6-12 days
From press release
Clinkenbeard (www.clinkenbeard.com), a Rockford-based worldwide leader in the rapid production of complex castings and machined parts using a variety of metals and plastics, recently completed a robotic machining feasibility study that shattered once-standard lead times for United States Department of Defense metalcasting, according to the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) (www.aticorp.org).
ATI leads several national collaborations that are developing advanced robotics capabilities and implementing both new and existing robotics technologies in response to U.S. Department of Defense manufacturing challenges.
One collaboration is with the American Metalcasting Consortium (AMC) (http://amc.aticorp.org/). The ATI-managed AMC partner companies, like Clinkenbeard, are using robotics technologies to support legacy weapon systems. Dramatically reduced lead time for legacy weapon systems parts is the key to the Defense Logistic Agency (www.dla.mil) partnership with the AMC. When doing work recently with the ATI-managed American Metalcasting Consortium, the patented Clinkenbeard Toolingless Process reduced the lead time for military cast spare parts from six to 12 months to six to 12 days.
The results, according to ATI, also demonstrated the Clinkenbeard process is capable of reducing capital investment by as much as 35 percent, reducing individual parts cost by up to 20 percent and improving cycle time by 25 percent. When reworking technical data is required, including a solid model of the part, lead times could exceed a year. But, even when a solid model must be generated first, the Clinkenbeard Toolingless Process can supply a cast part in less than a month. The secret is computer-generated molds with no tooling, or “going toolingless.”
The patented Clinkenbeard Toolingless Process of machining sand cores and molds is extremely accurate and offers the fastest turnaround times for cast metal parts, greatly minimizing typical costs associated with the product development. Utilizing this process can reduce the lead time to obtain development castings by up to 90 percent.
With the Clinkenbeard process, a customer:
• Can eliminate the need for prototype tooling, depending on project requirements.
• Can have greater flexibility to make and test multiple design iterations during product development, from the simple to complex parts.
• Can significantly reduce the cost of production tooling for one-off and small quantities.
• Can quickly get accurate, prototype parts in hand while large quantity tooling is being made.
• Can completely eliminate the need to inventory store tooling.
• Can match exact production core materials and chemical levels so that prototype castings emulate production, and
• Can incorporate engineering changes into high-volume production sand cores.
“The Clinkenbeard process enables us to reduce costs and lead times for machined castings in order to provide our government with the fastest, most cost-effective option available,” explained Ronald Gustafson, president of Clinkenbeard.
U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-16) said, “The American Metalcasting Consortium and Clinkenbeard are helping to develop and integrate new technologies that are crucial to ensuring the future of the U.S. manufacturing industrial base to support the American war fighter.”
Clinkenbeard is able to work on U.S. Department of Defense projects because the company registered with the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) and is fully compliant with all International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regulations (www.pmddtc.state.gov/regulations_laws/itar_official.html.)
The robotic machining feasibility study
Robotic machining has the potential to revolutionize the Rapid Casting arena, especially in the area of large castings. Tooling cost, as well as lead times, increase dramatically as parts get larger. The equipment needed to deal with the size and weight of extremely large parts becomes more rare, and thus, more expensive.
The larger the equipment used for these large parts, the slower it will operate because of its heavy physical characteristics. The most significant advantage that robotic machining seems to have is the fact that the robot moves independently of the work piece, giving it the ability to feed as quickly on a large part as it does on a smaller, lighter part.
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