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GK Machine Company, Inc.

Two-Code Stream Machine Environment for Streamlined Machining

In order to fulfill customer demand and meet production deadlines, GK Machine Company invested in a host of manual and multiaxis machines including a mill-turn center with simultaneous 5-axis machining capability. With so many machines running at the same time, the company significantly reduced machining time by implementing a single CAD/CAM software platform that could power several machines at once.

Quick Facts

Product Used: Mill-Turn

Industry: Agriculture, Tool & Die

Project Details

  • The Challenge: Reduce machining time and streamline the manufacturing operation among many different machines.
  • The Solution: Mastercam, including Mill-Turn, Dynamic Motion, Tool Library, Verify Simulation, and PrimeTurning™ integration.
  • Benefits:
    • Single- or two-code stream machining environment.
    • Simulation assures accurate machining.
    • Dynamic Motion® technology dramatically reduces roughing cycles and cutting tool costs.
    • Tool Library allows quick drag and drop of tools into toolpaths.
    • PrimeTurning™ inserts and technology runs seamlessly in Mastercam interface.

GK Machine Company, Inc., manufactures parts for heavy agricultural equipment like harvesters, sprayers, tree diggers, and hose reels. The Donald, Oregon, company also produces pre-made greenhouses, nursery supplies, and a variety of farming tools.

“We make manifolds, pivot pins, brackets, blade locks, spindles, race car parts—pretty much anything we can put in our machines,” said James Houdyshell, Production Manager. “We do everything from single parts to assemblies made up of 20,000 parts. We can have many different jobs going on at any given time.”

GK Machine requires a manufacturing environment that is reliable and efficient. Their 175,000 square-foot facility houses milling machines, lathes, and mill-turn centers, including one mill-turn center with simultaneous 5-axis machining capability, two 4-axis mill-turn lathes, one 4-axis horizontal machining center, three vertical machining centers, one 2-axis turning center, and a manual lathe and mill. They chose to invest in Mastercam software due to its ease of use, numerous capabilities, and local tech support.

Recently, GK Machine added a single-code stream machine environment to its turning center and purchased a seat of Mastercam Mill-Turn to manufacture parts for harvesters and hose reels.

According to Garik Schmidt, Machine Shop Supervisor, Mastercam’s Tool Library allows them to set up databases—or libraries—with custom form tools, drills, appropriate cutting parameters, and work-holding devices specific to the manifold applications. “All we need to do is select the material, then just ‘drag and drop’ our toolpaths for where our points are, and we have a good program. We merge the library with our current file so that it will all be in the machine environment.”

GK Machine also manufactures blade locks for wind turbines. They start by programing milling toolpaths which incorporate Dynamic Motion technology, toolpathing strategies that employ proprietary algorithms programmed into the software to keep the tool constantly engaged with the material, allowing it to cut intricate geometries at higher speeds. Both Mastercam Lathe and Mastercam Mill-Turn feature CAM turning strategies to support Sandvik Coromant PrimeTurning™ methodology. The CoroTurn® Prime B-type inserts are used for roughing the 8620 cold rolled steel while the Prime A-type inserts are for finishing. High material removal rates are possible because turning can be performed in all directions. PrimeTurning can be seamlessly added to the Mastercam interface with a full library of 3D tools available to drop into the toolpaths as needed.

“Initially machining blade locks was a slow process for us,” Houdyshell said. “We had a pin we were turning down, roughing out a good amount of 8620 cold rolled steel. Run time on that was about four hours. Now, we’re using the PrimeTurning toolpath with a Sandvik Coromant roughing turning tool and finishing turning tool. We’ve cut that time down to one hour, and we’ve extended tool life.”

This approach has allowed the shop to deliver pivot pins for harvesters and agricultural tractors in a fraction of the time it took prior to installing the larger mill-turn lathe. Previously, it took three machines to complete the process.

“We’d prep the piece in the manual lathe, then put it into our 2-axis lathe to turn, then load it into the horizontal to do the milling and drill work on either end. Start-to-finish, the process took about four hours,” said Schmidt. Now, they perform a quick prep in the 2-axis lathe and load the material into the mill-turn machine, support it with the tail stock and finish machining. They removed approximately 148 lbs. of material in around 20 minutes, starting with stock measuring 9.5” in diameter at 25” length, bringing the diameter down to just under 8”, turning that 8” diameter 23.25” down the length of the part.

“We ran it at an SFM of 800 or 381 revolutions-per-minute and a chip load of 0.030 inch per revolution with a depth of cut of 0.090 inch. When finishing we ran it at 477 RPM at 0.030 inch depth of cut and 0.015 inch IPM for the finish pass.” It takes them just over one hour to complete the entire process.

Mastercam Reseller, MCAM Northwest, Inc., helped get Mastercam Mill-Turn working and setting up the 2-code stream machine environment. This, when combined with the Mastercam network license, allows the programmers to work from any computer equipped with a license in the shop. “When we initially got our Mill-Turn license, there were some tweaks that needed to be made to the machine post file. We sent a Zip2Go file within Mastercam to them, and they were able to fix those issues and get the files back to me in a short period of time,” shared Schmidt.

GK Machine is committed to investing in its people, its technology, its customers, and its community not only to grow a diverse book of business, but also to share expertise to help continue the success of the agricultural and manufacturing industries in Oregon.

Customer Quote

“Mastercam has really helped us optimize our machining operation. We’ve reduced production times, improved efficiencies, become more productive, and even seen some significant cost savings. We certainly use it to the fullest. I’d say, we utilize almost every aspect of Mastercam available to us to get the job done.”

– Garik Schmidt, Machine Shop Supervisor, GK Machine, Inc.
Reseller Quote

“When we initially got our Mill-Turn license, there were some tweaks that needed to be made to the machine post file. We sent a Zip2Go file within Mastercam to the folks at MCAM Northwest and they were able to fix those issues and get the files back to me in a short period of time so we could get back up and running.”

– Garik Schmidt, Machine Shop Supervisor, GK Machine, Inc.