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Machining | Boring MetalTech Report
17-10-2016

Tigercat Industries manufactures equipment for the forestry and logging industry, products that are typically large and heavy. So when the company went on a search for new boring mills, its main requirements were to find a rigid machine that could accommodate heavy duty machining and reduce cycle times. In 2012, it purchased a Fermat boring mill, the WFT 13, from long time machine tool distributor Tos America, Milton, ON. At the time, the company wanted to reduce the cycle time to machine the front and rear frames of a skidder. “At that time we were using two setups to produce the skidder front frame,” says Dave Hodder, machine shop supervisor, “but with the Fermat, we were able to machine the front frame and we cut machining times by 40 per cent.”

Today, the 12,077 sq m (130,000 sq ft) Cambridge plant, one of several plants Tigercat Industries operates in Ontario, houses five Fermat boring mills. Four WFT 13 boring mills, including one equipped with ram stroke and a 60-tool changer (the WFT 13 R) and the more compact table-type horizontal boring mill, the WFC 10. The smallest in the Fermat line of CNC horizontal boring mills, the WFC 10 machine is equipped with a spindle diameter of 110 mm and a 31 kW (41hp) motor. It can handle workpieces weighing up to 5,000 kg. Designed with a fixed column for stability, the machine features a 730 mm spindle travel and a rotary table that moves crosswise on box or linear guideways, allowing close quarter machining of small and medium size workpieces. The machine is offered with a Y axis travel of 1,250 mm, 1,750 mm or2,000 mm and an X axis travel of 1,250 mm or 2,000 mm.

“We purchased the smaller WFC 10 because it was compact and we needed a smaller machine for the type of applications we were working on. We didn’t want to waste table space on the larger machines with these smaller products and this machine is equipped with a wireless handwheel and a Heidenhain 530 control, like our other Fermat machines, which are two features we like,” explains Hodder. He adds that all the Fermat boring mills also feature Renishaw probes. 
 
He says the WFC 10 helped Tigercat improve run times by up to 30 per cent. While he doesn’t have exact numbers, he adds “the coolant-through spindle, which we’ve never had in this shop, and the ability to run at higher speeds and feeds, helped us cut machine cycle times considerably.”
 
When Tigercat Industries looked at its first Fermat back in 2012, it didn’t know much about the machine nor its builder, but because of a long-term relationship with Lee Walker and Tos America, Hodder says “we went with his word on the quality of the machine. We went to see the Fermat in operation at other companies and we were impressed with the performance. We’ve found the Fermat machines are very ruggedly built machines and seem muchsturdier than some other machines we looked at and we’ve been happy with their performance.”
 
He adds that quality and accuracy are “excellent” and machine downtime has been “minimal” on all the Fermats.
 
“When we’ve had service, Lee services the equipment and we like the idea of the company who sells us the equipment also services it. Sometimes we get same day service or next day service depending on the parts we may need.”
 
To maintain shop cleanliness, Tigercat built enclosures to cover the tables and control chips. “Lee helped us design the drip tray under the table and we manufactured the enclosure to prevent the coolant from escaping the  machine.”
 
Hodder says he doesn’t expect to purchase more machines in the near future as the current machines can handle the production, but if the need arises, Hodder says they may consider another Fermat. However, some of the company’s sister plants have purchased Fermat boring mills. “In total we have nine Fermat boring mills of varying sizes amongthe Tigercat Industries facilities.”