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Stamping

Four tools, one machine

By Meghan Boyer

Companies can save time and costs with the fourslide manufacturing process

November 2010 - Speed and cost savings are important to Anthony Viggiano, CEO of Autotether, a Chester, Conn.-based supplier of boating safety products. The company needed a partner to manufacture a metal component of its product, and previous experience with overseas companies had not worked well.

Autotether is a wireless lanyard that shuts off a boat if the operator falls into the water, and it runs on batteries, says Viggiano. The company designed a special battery contact that does not lose contact no matter how much a battery may move, which ensures the lanyard does not lose power. Autotether is working with Fourslide Spring and Stamping Inc., Bristol, Conn., to build its metal components.

Fourslide "could build the tool faster and cheaper than just about anybody else," says Viggiano. Delivery time and communication were two problems he previously encountered when working with overseas manufacturers in China. "The communication link is the problem," and it contributes to design challenges, increased production time and higher costs, he says.

"We had gone down that route [of overseas companies] a couple of times, and we said, 'You know, it doesnÕt work. We have got to get this made domestically,'" says Viggiano. "We went to Fourslide, and they said they could do it in a certain time, and they did."

Fourslide process
Fourslide Spring and Stamping's fourslide process involves a series of tools that operate in sequence to achieve finished metal products including flat stampings or complex fasteners, terminals, contacts and connectors. "It is a process that combines stamping and forming," says Jim Richards, Fourslide director of sales and marketing.

Fourslide manufacturing begins with raw material in a flat strip from a coil. The progressive die section of the fourslide machine stamps or blanks it, and then the machine feeds the strip into the forming section, where four tool-carrying slides approach the material and form it around a center form or mandrel. The machine motions are cam driven, and the cams are mounted on a continuous shaft driven by a single motor. The benefits of the process include lower up-front costs, shorter lead times and the ability to modify tooling to accommodate engineering changes quickly. "We can make a complete part in a process from strip to finished part with tooling that costs" between $3,000 and $10,000, depending on the complexity of the part and the amount of work required, says Richards.

Viggiano estimates fourslide will reduce Autotether's costs for its part by more than 70 percent. "You are going to save not only the cost of the material, the cost of the part, but assembly time. Instead of assembling one part at a time, doing two solders to it and checking the connections, you are only doing one solder and you are assembling four parts at a time," he says.

Ultimately, the cost of a product probably is lower in China if a company is ordering 50 million parts, notes Viggiano. Although Chinese companies may be able to beat U.S. companies on price, "it doesn't necessarily mean they are going to beat you in quality," he says. If a company only requires 1 million parts, "there is no way the Chinese can compete."

Many companies are looking offshore for progressive die tooling because of the associated costs, but "we think it is critical to our business and to our ability to support our customers to do it ourselves," says Richards. FFJ

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Beckwood Press Co. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters Triform

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc.

LASER TECHNOLOGY

Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC MC Machinery Systems Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SigmaTEK Systems LLC

BEVELING

Murata Machinery, USA, Inc. Davi Inc. Striker Systems
Steelmax Tools LLC TRUMPF Inc.

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

COIL PROCESSING

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Bradbury Group MTS Sensors Rolleri USA

STEEL

Burghardt + Schmidt Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial Automec Inc. BLM Group
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies SafanDarley

WATERJET

Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

PUNCHING

Barton International

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc. Behringer Saws Inc.

WELDING

Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company

 

MetalForming Inc.

 

 

 

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

 

 

 

Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

 


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