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Custom Tool Maker Grows with Rebuilt CNC Grinders



Complex specialty tools require talented technicians with the right tool grinding machine to determine the best way to make a complex tool. Triple-T chose United Grinding rebuilds of WALTER HELITRONIC SL CNC tool grinders with HELITRONIC TOOL STUDIO CAD/CAM software.

Why a rebuilt tool grinder? According to Triple T, it is like having a new machine, but at a significant cost savings. Most importantly, the shop's technicians are familiar with the machines and the versatile HELITRONIC TOOL STUDIO CAD/CAM software.

Triple-T tackles projects, such as tiny specialty tools, with the expanded capabilities of its rebuilt WALTER HELITRONIC SL and HELITRONIC TOOL STUDIO CAD/CAM.

Most shops that manufacture specials-cutting tools that are developed, engineered and ground to uniquely different print specifications or are entirely new designs-are shops that tend to not shy away from a challenge. And for one in particular, it helps to have a talented staff with over 120 years of combined grinding experience paired with the latest CNC cutting tool grinding and software technologies.

That is the formula that Triple-T Cutting Tools (West Berlin, NJ) has used to grow from its founding in 1995 to becoming a leading producer of custom quality precision cutting tools for the medical, aerospace, firearms and subtractive metal cutting industries.

Triple-T, started by industry veterans, meets its customers' needs of improving production efficiency with quality tools that deliver consistent results. Steve Thomas, President of Triple-T Cutting Tools, recalled when the shop purchased a CNC grinder, advertised for work and went on the road-initially targeting the optical market known for carbide and PCD blades. This led to the shop producing specialty tools.

Since then, Triple T's product offering of metalcutting special tools has grown to include step drills and step reamers, special form tools, corner radius or full radius milling cutters, tapered tools and tapered ball nose tools and thread mills for blow mold applications, as well as standard end mills and drills.

The shop employs 17 people and runs two shifts with a stable of equipment that has grown to include ten 5-axis grinding machines, two CNC centerless grinders and several conventional grinders. Another 5,000 sq. ft. of space has been added to the facility and is loaded with new equipment.

According to Thomas, the complexity of specialty tool grinding requires a talented technician and the right tool grinding machine, which is why the shop chose rebuilds of WALTER HELITRONIC SL CNC tool grinders with HELITRONIC TOOL STUDIO CAD/CAM software-the same model machine with which he started the company.

Thomas traded in the company's first WALTER HELITRONIC SL grinder for a United Grinding North America rebuilt WALTER HELITRONIC SL grinder in 2016 after seeing one demonstrated at IMTS 2016. He then added a second one in 2017.

Why a rebuilt? It is a question that can be answered in a number of ways for Triple-T. "It is like having a new machine, but at a significant cost savings," said Steve's brother Mike Thomas, Vice President of Triple-T Cutting Tools. "The versatile HELITRONIC TOOL STUDIO CAD/CAM software is convenient for scheduling and makes training our technicians easier. The younger guys can understand the software better, and the latest version of it allows us to not only view the tool, but also to email that image to our customers, who are able to twist and turn and view from all angles."

Steve explained that a rebuilt machine from United Grinding North America's Rebuild Department starts with a complete machine disassembly. The only parts of the machine that are not new are the base and the shell. Everything else is replaced or renewed, including guideways, all worn parts and CNC controls. The machine's geometries are then recommissioned. The crowning addition, he said, is the latest version of the HELITRONIC TOOL STUDIO software.

The powerful software can process all tool parameters, from construction through to production. It allows the shop to grind extremely complex geometries in one clamping, essentially turning users into grinding professionals. The interplay between the software and Triple-T's HELITRONIC CNC tool grinders provides quick and seamless design, programming, simulation and production for each special tool production process.

There is a lot of capability in the software, according to Steve, who pointed out its ability to calculate the complexity of grinding a form on a tool and then produce the tool consistently, from first piece to last piece.

"Our goal is to be the best, meet customer requirements and, most importantly, retain them as customers," said Steve. "We do a lot of projects that most other shops shy away from thanks to our expanded capabilities with HELITRONIC TOOL STUDIO and through our own experience. A further advantage includes sending our technicians to United Grinding for training. Once I saw the results, I realized it was well worth it."

As results-oriented company, Triple-T purchases the best grinding wheels available for grinding its precision specials. "We spend a lot of money on superabrasive diamond wheels because they are worth it," said Steve. "They grind fast and cool and last long, and they also benefit from the rigidity of the grinders."

Developing special form tools is tricky, according to Mike. "If a customer wants a special form tool, for example, we will do a combination of multiple standard tools, like a step drill with multiple cutters for faster holemaking production, by combining the drilling and countersinking operations," he said. "We also make all-in-one tools with different sets of flutes and different forms for producing features that could never be done with standard cutting tools."

Triple-T often has more than 100 cutting tool jobs in production every month. Typical lot sizes average between 30 and 50 tools with 90% carbide and 10% HSS. Ninety-five percent of the tools are under 1" in diameter.

In addition to Steve and Mike Thomas, the Triple-T team includes Donna Gauntt, Director of Operations, who oversees the day-to-day activities and works closely with the company's customers and staff, and Kevin Gauntt, Director of Technical Services, who manages the shop and machinery.

Kevin Gauntt was instrumental in putting the HELITRONIC TOOL STUDIO software and WALTER tool grinders through their paces, testing complex jobs and proving out their ability to meet the precision requirements of special tools.

For Triple-T's business philosophy, teamwork, customer relationships and process improvement go hand in hand. For Steve, Mike and Kevin, that teamwork extends to their avocation of competing in the Spec Racing Ford (SRF) ACCS class racing series, where the three race and sponsor a Champion SRF Race Series. The SRF Series involvement also is a source of business. The company refurbishes hubs for the SRF SCCA class and has hubs in stock ready to ship, and also supplies custom tooling to performance shops.

For more information contact:

Triple-T Cutting Tools, Inc

135 Edgewood Ave.

West Berlin, NJ 08091

856-768-0800

www.tripletcuttingtools.com

UNITED GRINDING North America Inc.

2100 UNITED GRINDING Blvd.

Miamisburg, OH 45342

937-859-1975

info@grinding.com

www.grinding.com

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