Optimisation steps for a difficult-to-turn part

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Von Sebastian Maling


The task we were set by a leading European tools maker was far from easy: produce a complicated turned part with internal hexagonal geometry and lateral milling. At that time, the part was manufactured in six production steps in southern Europe. The aim in switching production to Asia was to benefit from urgently needed cost advantages.



It wasn’t just the customer’s target price that was ambitious.
The tolerances demanded, <0.03 mm on the internal hexagon, were also hard to meet. The first samples produced using the methods currently deployed in Europe were disappointing.


It was quickly obvious that a completely new manufacturing strategy was needed.
To this end, we started by identifying the type of machine that offered the best cost–processing time ratio.

In addition, the entire machining process had to be carried out on a single machine. This led us to choose a particularly robust Swiss-type CNC machine. Then feasibility studies were carried out, samples produced and a zero series manufactured.

Series production commenced in 2010.


The biggest benefit came from omitting the various production steps previously required. Production on a single machine with no manual intervention enabled the process to be entirely stabilised and the quality of the parts improved.

After amortisation of the machines purchased specifically for this customer, the price of the parts was reduced even further, as planned and laid down in the multi-year contract.

Furthermore, the additional optimisation steps implemented in the machining and tool design operations resulted in a further boost in productivity and a greater reduction in costs for the customer than was contractually agreed upon.


Increased sales and scheduled gains in market shares have led to new demands on the manufacturing process. Capacity is to be increased even further and the price of the part again reduced.

To this end, we are currently evaluating the possibility of producing the parts on a rotary transfer machine.


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