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Manufacturing

Saving space

By Russ Olexa

October 2009- Quality Tool and Stamping, Muskegon Heights, Mich., had a space problem with a stamping press. Attaching a conventional coil handling system wouldn’t work. What the company needed was a system that was compact enough to fit in a small area.

With 47 years of stamping experience, especially working with 1/4-in.- to 3/4-in.-thick steels, Ed and Dan Kuznar, company owners, decided a 1,000-ton press from The Minster?Machine Co., Minster, Ohio, and a space-saving coil handling system from Dynamic Feeds Inc., Beaufort, S.C., would solve their space problem. They did, and they also gave the company additional benefits.

Ed and Dan’s father started the business in 1957 as a tool and die shop. It was called Quality Tool and Die at the time, but when it added stamping services, the name changed. In 1960, Brunswick, a bowling equipment manufacturer, came out with an automatic pin setter. It asked QTS to make prototype parts, which opened the door to production stamping.

"We outgrew our first location quickly and moved to another one," says Ed Kuznar. "In 1960, we bought our first 100-ton Minster stamping press, and we’ve bought Minsters ever since. From our original location, we’ve had 25 additions. Today, the company has approximately 200,000 sq. ft. and 100 employees."

After its first press arrived, QTS expanded by doing small stampings. A company in the area made air-ride truck suspension systems, and QTS started doing work for it by producing primarily heavy parts for truck suspensions. These entailed 1/8-in.- to 3/4-in.-thick steel stampings. The parts range from 1 lb. up to 50 lbs. each.

"Today, we primarily do stamping work for the trucking and medical industries," says Dan Kuznar. "Because of the trucking industry, we bought our first laser to fabricate lower-volume parts that we couldn’t stamp due to the tooling costs."

The company has five laser systems, multiple press brakes and welding systems--including robotic ones--along with full metal fabrication and stamping capabilities. QTS uses 26 Minster presses that go up to a 1,000-ton press with a bed that’s 6 ft. by 12 ft.

"There’s no question that [Minster presses] are the best stamping presses on the market," says Ed Kuznar. "This was proven after we bought our first one. It demonstrated that there was just no question that it was the best. The other presses on the market just couldn’t compare. So now we’re up to 26.

"The resale value of these presses is phenomenal," he continues. "We bought a 400-ton Minster in 1972, and we can sell it for what we paid for it. Plus, we’ve noticed other presses that might be rated at 100 tons really can’t run at this tonnage. When Minster rates theirs at 100 tons, we run them at full tonnage, and we never worry about it.

"On our larger-tonnage presses, we’ve never broken a crank," he adds. "The worst thing we’ve ever done to any of our big-tonnage machines is worn out a clutch. And it probably only happens every eight to 10 years. We single-stroke these presses a lot, which is really hard on them. Being able to do this with any press speaks for its quality."

Space problems
Even with close to 200,000 sq. ft., the company is still tight for space. Any equipment it buys has to be well thought out in terms of its placement. QTS keeps stamping in one area and metal fabrication in another. Because the company was growing, it needed a new press, says Ed Kuznar. It ordered a new 1,000-ton Minster about two years ago to fill the need.

"Every time we want to buy a press, we have to figure out where we’re going to squeeze it in," he says. "We bought a small Dynamic Feeds space-saving coil handling system, and we had a good experience with it. Because of this, we went to a much heavier one for our 1,000-ton press. It probably takes up only about one-third of the space of a normal coil handling system, and it doesn’t require a coil looping pit.

"A normal coil handling system would have required an additional 40 ft. of space, which we didn’t have," he continues. "This space-saving coil handling system is only 13 ft. long. We can fit a lot more equipment in the building by using these systems. It also saves us the extensive work to knock out the concrete floor for the looping pit, and if we ever want to move the press, the pit would have to be filled in."

Most of the steels QTS stamps are 980-series, high-strength steels that have a yield strength of about 50,000 psi, but some can go up to 80,000 psi. Many trucking companies are using this HSS series so they can reduce the weight of their parts on trucks for better fuel economy.

"They came out with 980 material about five years ago, and none of the coil feeding equipment manufacturers had a clue that it was coming," says Ed Kuznar. "When it hit the market, it just tore up coil handling equipment. We had feeders in here with 1/4-in.-thick capacity, and it just tore them up within six months. We’d have a hard time getting 1/8-in. steel through them. Dynamic Feeds was one of the first coil handling companies that really caught on to HSS, and they have equipment that can handle it."

He also says HSS takes an extra 25 percent of press tonnage. A 100-ton stamping press would need 125 tons to form the part that would normally take 100 tons. This is another reason QTS prefers Minster presses: They have no problem with HSS.

QTS runs both single-stroke and progressive tooling on its 1,000-ton Minster press. It can run 24-in.-wide steel coil stock up to 1/2 in. thick.

The company builds its own stamping tools but doesn’t do any tool work for outside companies. Along with stamped parts, QTS offers welding, bending, laser cutting and part subassembly production.

Compact coil feeders
The Dynamic Feeds compact units use a common base for mounting the coil handler, straightener and feeder. Hoses and wires are channeled through the machines’ chassis to alleviate possible damage from outside sources.

By just pushing a button, hydraulic systems allow these units to easily change feed-line height and open the straightening head for threading and cleaning. With hydraulic reel rotation and expansion, combined with the hold-down arms and two-axis peelers as standard, the coil can be threaded safely by the push of a button. FFJ

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