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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

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

BEVELING

TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. Rolleri USA

STEEL

Butech Bliss UFP Industrial

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Red Bud Industries

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Tishken Advanced Gauging Technologies Automec Inc. BLM Group

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys
Mayfran International Cincinnati Inc. SafanDarley

WATERJET

DEBURRING/FINISHING

LVD Strippit

PUNCHING

Barton International
ATI Industrial Automation Scotchman Industries Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
Lissmac Corp. Trilogy Machinery Inc.

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Osborn

METAL FORMING

Behringer Saws Inc. Omax Corp.
SuperMax Tools FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Cosen Saws

WELDING

Timesavers MetalForming Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Beckwood Press Co. Titan Tool Supply Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company
Triform

 

 

 


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