Hardinge 5C Indexing System increases output and eliminates scrap.
The need for medical implants, instruments and tools is on the rise due to the maturing baby boomers. Vorzeigen Machining Inc. (Connersville, Indiana) is doing their part to prototype and process orthopedic parts with faster cycle times at the lowest possible cost. Vorzeigen has grown into a world-class manufacturer for the medical industry, implementing the ISO 9002 Quality Management System along with EN Medical certifications standard. A model skeleton hangs in the corner of their conference room as a location reference for many of the small medical parts that they manufacture – spine cages and spacers, cervical plates, implant caddies, bone plates, bone pins and bone screws.
One component singled out for this article is part of a spine implant that has 90 microscopic gear teeth. A need for faster cycle times and improved repeatability for this part lead this job shop to a Hardinge 5C Indexing System. They were able to increase output five and one-half times and virtually eliminate scrap according to Tyler Mitchell, CNC Mill Supervisor at Vorzeigen. “We used to position this 0.45-inch diameter part manually for each step in the process including each and every one of those ninety gear teeth, says Tyler. It was difficult to maintain repeatability and we would end up scrapping one-out-of-five parts just from human error.” A 2-hour set up and a 33-minute cycle time proved costly for Vorzeigen to continue at that pace. A local Hardinge rotary product distributor introduced them to the 5C indexing system. The automated indexing process increased the output from less than 2 parts-per-hour to 10 parts-per-hour, reduced setup time from 2 hours to 30 minutes, and brought the scrap down to zero. “We’re able to provide a faster turnaround to our customer and we’re not scrapping any more expensive titanium, says Tyler. My operator can now push a button and walk away to work on another machine.”
The current process includes a multi-step program involving milling flats, boring a through-hole and milling 90 gear teeth in 4-degree increments using a special-grind carbide end mill. The indexing head is controlled by a Hardinge all-digital servo control that connects to the machine’s CNC that commands the movements via M-codes. The mechanical unit indexes at a rapid 360-degrees per second, allowing one complex part to cycle through in just 6 minutes. Tyler said that when comparing different brands of indexers, he preferred the Hardinge name and the extra features that are found in the Hardinge servo control, mainly the ability to store more programs and view multiple lines of display. “The Hardinge indexing package was a great value for the price and we’ve achieved a rapid payback”, says Tyler.
As the greater population has a demand for improved comfort of living, so goes the demand for medical implants, tools and instruments. Therefore, we should expect to see more medical parts located on the skeleton in the conference room at Vorzeigen on our next visit! For more information contact Hardinge at 800-510-3161, or email Tyler@Vorzeigen.com.