Clearing weldment machining challenges

As a manufacturer of quality CNC stone-cutting equipment, Park Industries has a good idea of what capabilities the machine tools it uses to mill, drill and bore weldments and other components for its machines should possess.

Founded in 1953 in St. Cloud, Minnesota, this third-generation family business that serves only the North American market (thus, enabling prompt customer service and support) manufactures 40 different models of stone-cutting machines for countertop and architectural applications. This includes CNC five-axis saws, five-axis saw/waterjet machines and routers. It also provides slab laser layout and digital image capturing technology for its customers that enables them to streamline the design and manufacture of stone products for their own customers. With an installed base of more than 10,000 machines, Park Industries is North America’s largest stone-cutting equipment manufacturer.

The mild steel weldments that form the structure of the company’s stone-cutting machines require a variety of machining operations after individual plate components are welded into an assembly. However, some areas that require machining can be tough to access due to protruding or interfering weldment features. That’s why for years, Park Industries has used conventional horizontal boring mills with their signature W-axis quill spindles that can extend past such obstructions so all necessary weldment machining can be completed.

Recently though, the company decided to replace one of its older CNC horizontal boring mills used to machine medium-sized weldments with newer technology. Lyle Pedersen, Park Industries’ CNC manager, says the original plan was to stick with the known horizontal boring mill platform while taking advantage of the improved speed and cutting performance offered by today’s newer models. However, while researching new horizontal boring mills, he learned about a machine that more closely resembled a horizontal machining center (HMC), but that also offered a W-axis quill spindle common to horizontal boring mills. What he and others at Park Industries soon realized, and what he explained to me during a recent visit, is that this alternate machining platform offered production benefits that extended beyond the capability to reach past weldment obstructions, ultimately leading to as much as 60 percent improved throughput time for medium-sized weldments on its stone-cutting machines.

Read more: Clearing Weldment Machining Challenges