For small diameter gundrilling, our UNE6-2i machine allows manufacturers to maintain tolerances while taking advantage of two independent spindles. Designed for what's typically medical applications, parts can be drilled easily from each end, for accuracy without sacrificing productivity or floor space.


Independent Spindle Gundrilling – UNE6-2i | Video

For small diameter gundrilling, our UNE6-2i machine allows manufacturers to maintain tolerances while taking advantage of two independent spindles. Designed for what’s typically medical applications, parts can be drilled easily from each end, for accuracy without sacrificing productivity or floor space.

Continue reading“Independent Spindle Gundrilling – UNE6-2i | Video”



UNISIG Gundrill Grinder | Video

The complete gundrill grinding solution to re-sharpen your gundrills consists of the grinder, a universal holder for gundrill tools, a digital camera, measuring software, a computer and monitor. The system is base plate mounted for tabletop or cart use.
End the guess work and sharpen drills in as little as 5 minutes with continuous high precision as the drill tip can be inspected on the big screen monitor while still clamped for grinding.
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The modern gundrill is an engineering marvel, a well-designed piece of equipment that does one thing exceptionally well. A new gundrill will produce round, straight holes with enhanced cylindricity even at its deepest points.


Time to Rethink Resharpening Gundrills

By Eric Krueger and Ryan Funk, Engineering Team, UNISIG
Originally posted in Manufacturing News

The modern gundrill is an engineering marvel, a well-designed piece of equipment that does one thing exceptionally well. A new gundrill will produce round, straight holes with enhanced cylindricity even at its deepest points. And it does all this while simultaneously providing a fine I.D. finish and excellent tool life.

Like all tools, gundrills wear out, typically after drilling around 1,000″. While a talented operator can still drill a hole with a worn gundrill, it will more often result in a loss of hole tolerance and finish at best. As gundrills wear, they require more thrust and torque while producing more run-out and experiencing greater drift. A dull cutting edge will produce irregular chips, which in turn cause spikes in coolant pressure – sure signs that failure is imminent.

Unlike some tools, gundrills are excellent candidates for resharpening. When performed correctly, the same gundrill can be resharpened to perform as well as a new drill as many as 8 to 10 times. The only significant difference between a resharpened gundrill and a freshly produced tool from the OEM is a slight back taper, an issue only for shops that require tolerances far beyond most manufacturers’ needs – all other shops can simply account for the ever-so-slightly reduced tool diameter. Otherwise, the only visible difference will be seen in the length of solid carbide on the gundrill’s tip.

Even coated drills can be sharpened. Naturally, this will reveal the raw carbide on the face, but this does not impact performance. The coating will remain on the wear pads and continue to improve the gundrill’s size control and ability to leave behind a finished surface. Tool life will be impacted, but the only other option is having it fully resharpened and re-coated by the OEM, which will likely be less cost effective.

Manufacturers have several options for resharpening their gundrills. For specialized gundrills, such as twin-flute tools and those intended for ultra-high-feed applications with chipbreakers below a coating, resharpening is something that only a gundrill’s OEM can do. A local sharpening service will likely have the proper equipment, but this requires having redundant tooling and factoring in lead time and transportation costs.

However, both of these methods result in a loss of process intelligence. The grinding process can offer valuable information manufacturers can use to optimize their gundrilling applications. As a result, more manufacturers that use gundrills are choosing to resharpen their tools in-house.

The main risk of performing resharpening operations in-house is poorly sharpened gundrills. Without the correct tip geometry, gundrills do everything worse: size control, roundness, cylindricity, finish, chip control, straightness and depth all negatively impact workpiece quality and result in significantly diminished tool life. This will cause operators to reduce feedrates or change out tools more frequently to achieve the necessary tolerances and out of fear of catastrophic tool failure.

Modern gundrill grinding systems make it easy to avoid these consequences. For the greatest advantage, one needs the full system. That means a grinder, the appropriate gundrill fixture and equipment for calibrating and inspecting the drill tip.

A basic, high-precision manual tool grinder is used as a platform for these systems, though the length of some gundrills necessitates a reinforced table for sufficient accuracy. Choosing a fixture can be more complicated, as gundrills can be ground in two different ways. Sweep grinding leaves behind a gradual transition between elements of the tip’s geometry, while facet grinding creates distinct geometry. UNISIG typically recommends facet grinding, because the slight increase in tip strength produced by a sweep grind is outweighed by the repeatability and greater ease of inspection offered by facet grinds.

The final piece of advanced gundrill grinding systems involves a digital inspection camera capable of viewing and storing magnified images. Ideally, this will allow the user to perform measurements and identify flaws without taking the tool out of the fixture. In addition to allowing for highly precise grinding, this inspection is vital for process optimization.

Process optimization capability is the real added value conferred by performing gundrill resharpening in-house. Frequent inspection allows for the maximization of tool life. Shops become familiar with the wear patterns created by a given application and may find they are replacing gundrills too often. If a gundrill tip has even wear across its entire cutting edge, it could easily have many hundreds of inches of life left, something that will only become apparent with repeated inspections.

In-house gundrill resharpening also ensures that shops can obtain the best tip geometry for their given applications. Whether it is uneven or unexpected wear, or the sudden appearance of chips in the cutting edge, once a shop identifies an irregularity, they can then adjust speeds and feeds to optimize the process. The inspection equipment even makes working with tooling OEMs easier, since shops can send them a measurement set and picture of a tool when asking for advice on how to improve the geometry.

With more experience, it becomes possible to tie a wear condition back to the process. For example, if there is a visible build-up along the cutting edge, it is often because the rotational speed is too slow. Conversely, if the edge is wearing faster than the tooling supplier’s data suggests, the tool is likely spinning too fast. Meanwhile, a chipped cutting edge suggests the feedrate was too high. With this know-how, shops can optimize the process and avoid future problems.

Fortunately, modern gundrill grinding systems make developing this know-how easy to achieve; in fact, the process usually takes longer to describe than it does to perform. After clamping in the gundrill, an operator can use geometry data from the tooling supplier to calibrate the camera. With the latest human-machine interface software, this can be as simple as drawing a line on the screen to establish the known gundrill diameter for repeatability purposes.

After calibration is complete, grinding can begin. The grinding wheel, turning in the direction toward the drill edge, makes contact with the drill tip after the operator confirms the correct rotational and X- and Z-axis orientations. A standard starting point grind will begin with the tip angled at +30° horizontally and +15° vertically with the rotation at +5°. The Y-axis is used to hold the tip to the grinder while feed is performed along the Z-axis at a rate of about 0.002″ per pass.

Some gundrills include an outer secondary angle parallel to the front cutting edge where the primary and secondary angles meet. It is critical that this primary facet is relatively narrow, since too much width will increase heat production and, consequently, reduce tool life. The operator next moves to the inner relief facet by moving the grind fixture -20° vertically in the opposite direction from the primary angle. This movement results in the formation of a point position with a length that is exactly 1/4 of the drill’s diameter, or the “D/4″ position, but other lengths may be necessary depending on the material.

Next, the operator moves to the front clearance, a facet with a point close to – but not touching – the front cutting edge. With standard gundrill tip geometry, a 0° horizontal angle and rotation as well as a +26° vertical angle will provide the correct position. While cutting performance improves the closer this point gets to the cutting edge, optimal edge strength requires placing the point slightly behind the edge. If a tip’s geometry requires an outer secondary angle, the front clearance facet’s point should meet it. Otherwise, the point of the facet is placed between 0.02″ and 0.03” behind the front cutting edge.

The final step on the grinder provides the oil dub-off, a facet with an edge tangential to the flute of the gun drill. Operators position the grind fixture at -30° horizontally, +25° vertically and +65° rotationally. The gundrill tip then feeds into the grinder at a rate that prevents cutting into the front cutting edge. The optimal angle meets the inner relief angle at the corner opposite the gundrill’s outside diameter.

After grinding is complete, the operator can use a hand chamfer to create additional clearance for optimal performance. The finished gundrill is now resharpened and ready for use – a process that takes fewer than 10 minutes. Given the ease of use and the significant process optimization opportunities, it is time to re-think gundrill resharpening.

Reposted with permission.



Overcome The Barriers To Automation

As appeared on Cutting Tool Engineering on 11/7/2021

By Anthony Fettig, CEO of UNISIG

At every stage of manufacturing, there is an opportunity for automation. Unfortunately, many manufactures often let perceived barriers keep them from implementing complete machine or process automation. With this mindset, they end up limiting their productivity by automating only one or two aspects of the process or not automating at all.

Conversely, those manufacturers that instead approach automation with an open mind and focus on breaking through barriers that could potentially prevent automation are those that are capable of automating as many stages of manufacturing as possible. These shops consider automation to be a key part of their enterprise-wide strategy, one that encompasses everything from sales, engineering and materials flow to actual machining operations and quality control.

When it comes to automation, most of the time should be spent getting all other manufacturing steps under control. That means making sure machines are robot ready; manufacturing process are robust and reliable to function automatically; and that there are quality checks in place to prevent issues from permeating to other operations within the process. Plus, while eliminating these barriers to automation, shops will often realize that doing so has as much of an impact on productivity as would simply adding a robot.

For one UNISIG customer, careful review and implementation of automation and process optimization resulted in about 150% production increase over previous manual operations without increasing feedrates.

The shop’s recently added automated gundrilling process simplifies completion of large orders with long delivery schedules. Most of the shop’s workflow involves long-term contracts and multi-month purchase orders for 1,000 or more parts. That streamlined workflow thanks to automation makes production planning easy because the company can establish shipping dates and work backward to create the build schedule.

There are opportunities to automate most elements of a company’s manufacturing environment. The impact of well-targeted automation solutions maximizes the overall benefits of process stability and consistency as well as increased output than does simply adding another robot in production. These opportunities are often overlooked – or worse, the lack of automation in less obvious areas deters the integration of further conventional automation.

Before machining a part, for instance, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, CAM software and even tools for simulating machines all contribute to automation at the machining stage. The ability to program from engineering model files without having to export from engineering CAD files or filtering through old revisions is often an added bonus, and a welcome quality-of-life improvement from today’s CAD/CAM users.

Through simulation, manufacturers can verify programs to avoid crashes as well as to optimize the machining plan and eliminate unexpected events that impact quality. In turn, this unleashes the true performance potential of modern machine tools that may have otherwise gone unused.  Bringing the entire machining process into the digital realm also creates the opportunity for a digital twin that can be stored as a record of the manufacturing process.

Digitally modeling more than the workpiece and tool, such as adding fixtures and machine components, creates new possibilities for improvement along with complete process optimization and further encourages the use of standard libraries beyond just cutting tools. Standardization of tool libraries that include more than dimensions, but also feed and speed tables by material type, for instance, eliminate the need for manually determining such parameters for every part application.

There are also a variety machine features that can contribute to a more automated workflow – including many things individuals wouldn’t ordinarily consider automation. Modular quick-change fixturing and off-line tool setting further automate and reduce setup time, for example. Likewise, in-process inspection cycles confirm part quality during production to ensure uninterrupted operations.

When considering the machine tool automation aspect,  an automation-ready design is critical to provide a solid foundation for process-wide automation. For deep hole drilling machines, that starts at the core of a machine’s design with its axis plan and spindle movements.

Other automation-ready machine aspects include automatic doors for automation access, communication capabilities in the controls and sensors, and other features and capabilities specifically made to interface with or supplement automation.

In the case of deep hole drilling systems, a shop may manually load a part, but the machine’s underlying design allows it to automatically lift and nest a part into a fixture, set the tool offsets, drill a hole and send it back to the nest for unloading – all with perfect accuracy and repeatability.

For many companies that compete against low-cost offshore suppliers, automation often means survival, but more importantly, it provides a sustainable path to growth and profitability.

Prior to implementing it however, shops must focus on and eliminate or correct any preconceived barriers to automation they may have. In doing so, automation becomes a process and enterprise-wide initiative, from the engineering department and the production floor all the way to the shop’s machine tools.

UNISIG's production cell integrates our UNE 2-spindle gundrilling machine and UNR 2-spindle reaming machine with robotic automation. The cell leads into our R-2A rifling machine for steady, repeatable rifle barrel blank manufacturing at high production.


Rifle Barrel Manufacturing Cell with Automation | Video

UNISIG’s production cell integrates our UNE 2-spindle gundrilling machine and UNR 2-spindle reaming machine with robotic automation. The cell leads into our R-2A rifling machine for steady, repeatable rifle barrel blank manufacturing at high production.

The cell includes automated tool handling and machine guarding. Effortless production is furthered with racking systems, inspection, and oil blowoff capabilities.

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