Competitiveness Boost For Archer


When Seco Tools recently announced the release of its Jetstream Tooling Duo technology it provided Australian CNC manufacturers with a fresh opportunity to improve their competitiveness.

Jetstream Tooling Duo is the next generation of Seco’s proven Jetstream Tooling system, which has been around for the past few years. Originally developed in collaboration with Rolls Royce for machining of exotic materials in the aerospace industry, Jetstream Tooling provides CNC operators with a huge leap forward in machining of materials such as stainless steel, titanium and super alloys.

It features a coolant delivery system integrated into the cutting tool-holder, which sprays coolant directly on to the rake face just millimetres away, as opposed to conventional nozzles that are typically 30 or more millimetres away. The precisely targeted high-pressure flow removes heat from the cutting zone a lot quicker, allowing for higher cutting speeds. This in turn produces better surface finishes on hard-to-machine and exotic metals, improves chipping control, and means projects can be completed a lot quicker, which in turn leads to improved productivity.

Seco Area Business Manager Harold Phipps says he has seen stainless steel machining jobs completed in one-third of the time that it used to take before its customers installed Jetstream Tooling. He adds that the new Jetstream Tooling Duo system is able to extend cutting tool life by an extra 10%-50%.

“With the Jetstream Tooling Duo system, Seco Tools has improved the original concept by incorporating multiple coolant jets on either side of the cutting tool,” says Phipps. “The cutting edge now receives high-pressure coolant from two opposite directions – above and below. This additional volume of coolant not only keeps the cutting surface cooler, it also reduces wear on the insert and flushes the surface clear.”

Jetstream Tooling Duo features a P-holder lever design for rigid locking of the insert. With improved rigidity comes the ability to increase depths of cut, employ even higher feed rates and take surface quality to another level.
“Seco Tools is constantly engaged in research and development and we appreciate having open, collaborative relationships with our customers”, adds Phipps. “They provide us with feedback, which we in turn incorporate into the next generation of products.”

One such example was Archer Enterprises, based in Central Coast, New South Wales. Archer manufactures 316 stainless steel valve spindles for performance-critical flow control and delivery system products. The company’s owners had asked Seco to extend its Jetstream Tooling technology to help improve grooving and parting off operations on these spindles. This year Seco announced the release of the new parting system, which will soon be installed at Archer.
“Archer is a good example of this collaborative relationship that we have,” says Phipps. “It is a very progressive engineering and manufacturing company which has embraced Seco Tools technology over a number of years in order to help them build a worldwide reputation.”

Archer is a third-generation family-owned business that is renowned for taking on projects that other companies regard as being too hard. Its portfolio includes the design and manufacture of sophisticated Australia-first technology and highly specialised products for the global market.

“We are always looking to the future and investing in the best technology so that we can have a competitive edge”, says Archer Operations Director Russell Byrne. “This is why we invested in five- and nine-axis Okuma mill turn multi-function machines with factory-installed high-pressure coolant systems a few years ago.”

Byrne says the team at Archer do a lot of performance-critical work with stainless steel, alloys and titanium, and are always on the lookout for ways of improving their capabilities so that they can continue to pursue niche domestic and international projects.

“Our search led us to Seco Tools and their Jetstream Tooling,” adds Byrne. “We tested it out against what we had at the time and it was so far in front. It delivers coolant in the optimum position. It is the best technology we have seen that keeps hot things cool. We were so impressed we installed Jetstream Tooling on all of our machine centres and we rely on it for every project.

“The Okuma high-pressure coolant system was already there, so we plumbed the Jetstream Tooling straight in and we use 1.5 and 7.0Mpa coolant pressure on our machines. It allows us to increase our machine speeds and get a better machining result. It is also brilliant for unmanned lights out machining of stainless steel and alloys, and this means we have been able to dramatically increase our output.”

Byrne is full of praise for Jetstream Tooling, saying that they have been able to increase feeds and speeds during roughing turning operations, that tool edge life has been extended, and that they now experience fewer stoppages for tool insert changes. He adds that the Jetstream Tooling improves swarf evacuation on finishing turning operations, and it reduces the chance of swarf wrapping around the tool and deflecting coolant away from the cutting edge.

“This is a robust and easy to use system. It is helping us pursue more complex projects here and overseas. We know that we have the right tool for the job. We have invested well.”

When asked for an example of how the Seco Tools’ technology has benefited them, Byrne says  that is a challenge because it is used on every project. However, one landmark job that has attracted interest from a number of countries around the world was an impulse turbine project for Granite Power.

“We made the full assembly of highly complex stainless steel and titanium components with very fine tolerances, such as the impeller, which took two hours to machine. The turbo-generator is a unique piece of equipment, which captures waste heat from say the exhaust of a diesel combustion engine and uses it to generate electricity. Hot supercritical fluid is expanded at velocities greater than Mach 1.7 through the front nozzle, it hits the turbine blades and drives the turbine at 70,000rpm, generating up to 30kW of electricity. We’re talking about 60 bar in this system, and the internal temperatures vary between 200 and 260 degrees Celsius.”

Although they weren’t asked to, Archer machined multiple versions of one part that were fractions of a millimetre apart to mimic the changes that the component would undergo due to the extreme temperature changes in the turbine. It was the Jetstream Tooling that helped to make this possible.

A spokesperson from Granite Power said the overseas technology they wanted was too expensive, and in order to make the turbine a commercial application, they needed to find a way of reducing the cost of manufacturing. Having Archer make the assembly locally was the most economical way for them to get it done.
“Not only is Seco Tools helping us to pursue more complex work”, says Byrne. “It has helped us to reduce our operating costs, which means we are very competitive when tendering for new business.”
Phipps believes it is companies like Archer that will survive the current difficulties facing the manufacturing industry in this country.

“Manufacturers in Australia are facing a very competitive time in 2014. The industry is changing and if you want to survive you have to be willing to adapt to change, to think outside the box and to embrace the latest technology. Otherwise – and this is the last thing we want to see – they might not be around in the years to come.
“With technology such as Jetstream Tooling and Jetstream Tooling Duo, they can have superior machining of hard materials, faster production cycles, less replacement of consumables, and the ability for unmanned manufacturing, which will dramatically improve their competitiveness.”