Spotlight Case Study
Eaton Cooper Finds Repeatable Quality in Machine Vises
Accuracy and repeatability are vital to the electrical industry, as in many other areas of manufacturing. Eaton Cooper Power Systems had been using Hilma NC vises as a CNC fixturing solution for 30 years, which provided many advantages of hydraulics, without the need for external pumps, lines, or valves.
After 30 years, Eaton wanted to finally replace the vises, but needed to ensure the new vises would work with the company’s extensive inventory of specialized jaws.
Mike Hemmat, Senior Manufacturing Engineer, recently contacted Carr Lane Roemheld about replacing some old Hilma vises. It turns out the company had been using the same Hilma Hydro-mechanical vises in production for more than 30 years. Eaton already had a large library of special application vise jaws, and had no interest in modifying or re-building their jaw inventory. Compatibility with the existing jaws, then, was a vital requirement of the replacement vises.
Roemheld, with its world headquarters in Germany, also has a long and successful history, with its founding in 1870. In 1991, Hilma and Roemheld teamed up to become one company, represented solely in North America as Carr Lane Roemheld Mfg. Co. Together with leading tooling manufacturer Carr Lane Mfg. Co., Carr Lane Roemheld provides highly accurate power workholding devices, primarily for use on CNC machines.
Carr Lane Roemheld provided a sample of its current NC100 Hydro-mechanical vise to Jake Lew, Lead Machinist and 42-year veteran with Eaton Cooper. Lew was pleased to verify that Hilma-Roemheld had retained the outer dimensions on the new vises in order to ensure continuity in customers’ manufacturing processes, and to confirm compatibility with Eaton’s inventory of special jaws.
While the outer dimensions remained the same, Hilma-Roemheld had made important advancements to the internal vise design, and updated the vise spindle for enhanced performance and durability.
“The NC vise is very easy to use, and a great way for shops to achieve the advantages of hydraulics, including high clamping force and high repeatability, without retrofitting,” said David Vilcek, Manager of Workholding and Assembly for Carr Lane Roemheld.
“With a few cranks of the handle, hydraulic pressure can be built up to 14,000 lbs. of clamping force (on the largest size), which you can view on the indicating gauge, providing enhanced precision and repeatability,” said Vilcek. ”The ergonomic benefits are immense, since14,000 lbs of clamping force can be achieved with as little as 20 ft-lbs of torque, a benefit that operators and safety managers find impressive. The NC-vise is easy to maintain, and also very versatile, in that it can be switched quickly from clamping small to large parts, simply by pulling the pin and sliding back the power unit, then reinserting the pin. By purchasing this one vise, a machine shop can greatly increase its productivity across a variety of jobs and realize the benefits of hydraulic workholding without all the added expense and maintenance hassle of pumps, lines, valves, etc.”
According to Lew, the original Hilma vises were purchased in 1985 for use in Eaton’s first machining center cell, MC1. Eaton has now replaced the older vises with new NC vises from Carr Lane Roemheld. “The vises cost a little more,” said Lew, “but they locate within .0003”, the clamping force is 100% consistent, and they last over 30 years.”
“It was a smart decision to go with the Hilma production style vises,” Lew said. “We know the quality is great by how long they have lasted.”
“Eaton Cooper uses fourteen Hilma vises in production, and the first two replacement vises were delivered in June. Roemheld is proud to partner with Eaton Cooper to ensure their manufacturing is good to go for the another 30+ years!” said Vilcek.