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October 1999: Modern Application News


Sawing service centers must be able to provide fast, efficient and cost-effective service to their customers if they want to stay in business and remain competitive. Houston, TX-based Metal Cutting Specialists Inc. (MCS) has done all of this with considerable success since its establishment in 1982. The company has grown to become one of the largest sawing service centers in the U.S., servicing more than 500 customers around the country from its 20,800 square-foot plant, located on 200 acres.

Owner Leonard LaNoue has been involved in the manufacturing, marketing and use of bandsaws for 50 years. LaNoue said that customer requirements are unusually demanding in that material sent in for cutting is either at the beginning of production or at the final phase. The majority of orders are processed in one or two days; the plant operates six to seven days a week.

MCS processes materials up to 62" in diameter and does high production runs of small and large parts, shapes blocks of steel weighing up to 18 tons and has the capacity to split or cut parts to 62 thick by 240 long. One major vertical market is the aircraft industry -- MCS cuts titanium, Hastalloy, aluminum, and Inconel 718 in diameters up to 40" for numerous clients throughout the U.S.

"Since fast turnaround is a prime requirement of this business along with precision cutting at prices that haven't changed in 17 years, it's critical that only the most productive bandsaw machines be used," LaNoue said. "Heavy duty equipment with extreme accuracy, high cutting rates, low tool cost and dependability were our key requirements in searching for a suitable bandsaw."

"With an increased demand for closer tolerances and faster delivery, we decided to purchase the Amada CTB-400 that would be used with a carbide bandsaw blade primarily on stainless steel bar stock in all sizes to 15" O.D.," LaNoue said. The company currently has two CTB-400s and recently ordered a third machine.

The CTB 400 CNC bandsaw is specifically designed for high-volume production and can handle everything from aerospace alloys to tough materials such as titanium. Its also very accurate; the CTB-400 is capable of achieving cutting rates up to 1/4 sq. in. min. on Inconel-718, and with surface finishes in the range of 80 RMS on hard-to-cut stainless grades.

LaNoue added that for many years MCS had used various types of carbide blades, but were never able to get the results they wanted.

"When we ran carbide on the CTB 400, we were amazed with the cutting rates that were at a minimum 400 percent faster than machines using bi-metal blades on the same materials," he said. "In addition, our tool costs are now always lower per square inch of material cut than with the bi-metal blade."

LaNoue said that the CTB-400 has dramatically increased productivity.

"We're able to hold tolerances at +/-.005, which is amazing. Our customers now expect this kind of accuracy on all parts -- they now allow less material for machining that reduces their material costs and speeds up the machining due to lighter cuts," LaNoue said. "They're no longer concerned with part lengths variation that can cause CNC lathes or machining centers to crash."

LaNoue indicated that the CTB 400 is the first bandsaw machine he has seen that is entirely CNC. MCS operators find it very easy to program. Some of the key features that make it productive for MCS include:

  • Dependable CNC system which is easily programmed.
  • Blade speed and head feed decreases on entry and exit of the cut that ensures accuracy and longer tool life. They ramp up and down just like a CNC lathe or mill.
  • The CTB 400s unique design fully supports the metal band with carbide teeth, something LaNoue said is not seen in other bandsaws.
  • The saw head travels across linear machine bearings providing for vibration free movement, accuracy and long life.
  • Index vises hold the material secure and the out board vise works in unison with the index vise to move the cut part and raw material away from the blade when the band is retracted out of the cut. Unlike other bandsaws, the blade doesn't make contact with the part while it is backing out for indexing. LaNoue says this unique feature produces a better finish and more important, blade is greatly improved.
  • The saw guides are carbide and automatically set the correct pressure on the blade for complete control of the saw band.
  • When the cutting information speed and feed for each type of material is stored in the computer, it can automatically be brought back up for any future order of the same material grade. This ensures the best operating condition for maximum cutting rate and tool life.

LaNoue said the CTB 400 has enabled MCS to maintain the same prices to their customers that were in effect 17 years ago, even though prices for blades, fixed and variable costs have increased each year.

"It's more important than ever for us to lower our prices to our customers while at the same time providing a better product faster," he said. "Our company is built on service and we do whatever is necessary to accommodate our customers in a very demanding market. The Amada CTB 400 helps us to do this."

Return to: 1999 Feature Stories