When a machine shop in suburban Chicago was tasked with what it knew would be a challenging titanium project, the company turned to one of its trusted vendors for advice and a potential solution. Meyer Tool & Manufacturing Inc. got what it needed from Emuge-Franken USA.

Oak Lawn, Illinois-based Meyer Tool is a custom-manufacturing and fabricator shop that has been “building the impossible,” as its tagline proudly states, since 1969. The company was founded by Frank Meyer after he was laid off from Argonne National Laboratory, which later became a Meyer Tool customer and remains one to this day. Meyer’s daughter, Eileen Cunningham, succeeded him as president in 2004.

Out of the Ordinary

Meyer Tool aims to be the world’s best provider of cryogenic, vacuum and pressure technologies. Using their unique knowledge base, they solve complex fabrication problems and manufacture custom products for both industrial and research-based customers worldwide.

With about 35 employees in its 52,000-sq-ft (15,850-sq-m) facility, Meyer makes parts from start to finish, utilizing three-, four- and five-axis CNC machining, welding/fabrication, assembly and quality control in its lab and clean room. Meyer also has turning centers with live tooling, vertical turning lathe capabilities up to 64″ (1,626 mm) in diameter and a CNC boring mill for extra-large parts. Leveraging the experience Meyer has gained from manufacturing challenging, one-off assemblies in the particle accelerator and national lab industry, they work with their OEM partners to turn their prototypes into production projects.

“Our history and expertise in cryogenics, vacuum and pressure parts manufacturing, which includes complex geometries requiring tight exacting seals, has provided a unique foundation for successfully machining any custom one-off or production job that our customers can throw at us,” explains Kenny Urban, a supervisor for Meyer Tool. “Parts range from small (less than ¼”, 6.35 mm) to large 30′ long x 10′ tall (9 x 3 m) weldments—whatever we can fit out of our door. We manufacture all parts precisely, as if they are going into a particle accelerator.”

The company works with challenging and exotic materials, such as Hastelloy, titanium, Inconel and stainless steel. New OEM customers typically need small-batch production of up to 100 parts annually, requiring fast turnaround.

Efficiency in Titanium

Meyer’s orders for the renewable energy sector are on the rise, including a titanium vacuum-chamber vessel for a hydrogen application. “Historically when milling titanium, the end mills we used would end up glowing and wear out prematurely,” Urban says. Milling titanium can destroy tooling, so using the right tooling with the proper feeds and speeds is crucial for success.

For the titanium vacuum chamber job, the new milling application started with a 350-lb (159-kg) billet, approximately 12″ (305 mm) diameter and 19″- (483-mm) long solid round titanium bar, requiring a large amount of material removal in reducing it to 28.5 lb (12.9 kg). With that challenge at hand, Urban knew he needed to establish an optimal machining setup.

When planning how to approach the titanium milling project, Urban turned to Emuge-Franken USA of West Boylston, Mass., for a tooling solution and application advice. “We went straight to Emuge and did not consider any other end mill brands,” Urban says. “We were already completely satisfied with the Emuge taps for threading titanium and have a great working relationship with their product and engineering teams, so we had high confidence that their end mill recommendation would perform well.”

At Emuge-Franken, Kurt Serlovsky served as the point person for Meyer. Serlovsky, a product applications specialist, started his career in a Chicago-area machine shop, and his father worked with the founder of Meyer Tool at Argonne National Laboratories. Serlovsky is well aware of the challenges that titanium can pose.

“It’s a heat-sensitive super alloy,” he says. “It definitely takes a toll on tooling. So you’ve got to get it right. You’ve got to get the parameters correct.” An American/German milling team supplied information to Meyer as part of what Serlovsky called “a joint effort.”

Historically known for its tapping, Emuge-Franken is a century-old German company that continues to expand its capabilities in end mill and other tools. Serlovsky says customers now contact Emuge-Franken about specific materials, including super alloys.

Meyer Tool frequently works with true position tolerances, and when the parts are vacuum-based, ± five-thousandths and sometimes one- to two-tenths tolerance is required. Due to these stringent requirements, risk must be minimized. “We have to do things right the first time—we cannot afford not to,” Urban says.

Following Emuge’s advice, Meyer implemented an efficient titanium milling system. Starting with the machine tool, five-axis technology ensured the angles on the large vessel could be machined with only two operations instead of the eight to 10 setups that would be needed on a three- or four-axis machine, according to the supplier.

Trochoidal Milling

The Emuge-Franken end mill selected for the bulk removal of the titanium application was a 20-mm diameter, 5xD solid carbide “TiNox-Cut” Trochoidal tool, specifically designed for the machining of tough materials such as titanium alloys, as well as Inconel and stainless steel. The end mill produces high metal-removal rates, the company says, and features advanced geometry, a proprietary TiN/TiALN coating and a chip-breaker edge which, combined, reduces stress and vibration when machining difficult materials such as titanium.

“It was a perfect fit by design,” Serlovsky says. “That particular tool is made for super alloys specifically, and it does extremely well in titanium.”

The Emuge-Franken TiNox-Cut trochoidal tool has coolant-through capabilities for maximum performance, according to the company. Designed for trochoidal milling via the overlapping movement of circular paths, these tools can rough and finish mill more than 30% faster than standard designs, the company says, while signficantly increasing tool life. Advanced PVD-applied, multi-layered coatings withstand excessive heat and provide superb wear resistance for longer tool life, and tool geometry is designed to produce minimal vibration when machining tough materials. Also key for this application, an Emuge FPC collet tool holder was utilized, providing unprecedented rigidity, vibration dampening, concentricity, machining speed and tool life.

“We were amazed at how productive the TiNox-Cut end mill was at removing a tremendous amount of material—nearly 91% of the original billet, and the life of the tool far surpassed any other end mill we had tried in titanium by at least 75%,” Urban says. Urban also machines the lid for the vacuum chamber vessel via an Emuge-Franken circle segment end mill, also known as conical barrel cutters, that mills the tapered wall on the lid. The circle segment technology enables substantially more material removal with fewer passes in five-axis machining, up to 90% cycle time reductions, and up to 50% smoother surface finishes, according to Emuge.

“Traditionally, most guys will use a ball-end mill to do milling contouring, or to follow a profile, and you only get a certain amount of contact on a small radius cutter,” Serlovsky says of circle-segment cutting, which Emuge-Franken helped pioneer with Open Mind Technologies. Such tools can be shaped in different styles such as an oval or lens cutter or barrel.

“The whole goal is to give them a giant radius, where they may appear almost flat, but they’re not,” Serlovsky adds. “It’s a monster radius. So when that tool actually makes contact with the part surface, you have a lot more surface contact, maybe six to eight times the amount of contact. So by the nature of that big radius, you can come in and remove six or 10 times the amount of material and obtain a better finish, with less tool pressure.”

After a stringent quality control process, the sealed part is inspected in Meyer’s lab by using one of the helium mass spectrometer machines that requires running helium around it to ensure a tight, leak-free seal. “The Emuge-Franken end mills provide a solution that is right the first time, eliminating rework and saving operation costs,” Urban says. “Their support team is stellar, and I can always count on Emuge to provide answers fast, which is key when every minute counts.”

For more information on Meyer Tool & Manufacturing, visit https://www.mtm-inc.com or call 708-425-9080. For more information on Emuge-Franken, visit https://www.emuge-franken-group.com/us/en/ or call 800-323-3013.



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