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Reduce lead times with Esprit – As seen in Cutting Tool Engineering

August 22, 2019

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Combining the power of Camarillo, California-based DP Technology Corp.’s Esprit CAM software and Windsor, Connecticut-based Tsugami/Rem Sales LLC’s Swiss-style machines has been a boon for MacKay Manufacturing Inc., reducing the time the company takes to machine complex parts.

Founded in 1986 in Spokane Valley, Washington, MacKay Manufacturing is a job shop that focuses on aerospace parts and surgical instruments and devices. The company has more than 135 employees and runs a two-year on-the-job training program to ensure that machinists get the experience needed to handle complicated projects.

At any given time, MacKay has between 400 and 600 work orders in progress. Job quantities can range from a one-off prototype part to several thousand pieces, machined in common metals like aluminum, titanium and stainless steel, as well as more exotic materials, such as ToughMet and ceramic plastics. The parts MacKay makes are typically complex and require tight tolerances, special certifications and efficient prototyping. MacKay places high emphasis on oversight, robust documentation control and production process tracking to assure customers that the correct raw materials have been purchased and are being machined properly during each step of the manufacturing process.


This Tsugami B0326-II machine tool is programmed with Esprit CAM software. Image courtesy of MacKay Manufacturing

MacKay’s production department runs almost 20 mills, including 11 5-axis LeBlond Makino horizontal machining centers, three Mori Seiki vertical mills and two Willemin-Macodel 408MTs. It also runs about two dozen lathes and Swiss-style turning machines, including three Tsugami 20mm Swiss-type screw machines with Iemca Boss 325 bar feeders; a Tsugami MU26; and five Tsugami 32mm Swiss-type turning centers with dual spindles, independent turrets, live tooling and thread whirling capability. The prototype department has six Mori Seiki vertical mills, two wire EDMs, three Bridgeport mills and a number of other machine tools.

To efficiently cut small parts, MacKay purchased its first Tsugami 20mm screw machine in 1998.

“We chose Tsugami because they have a reputation for being reliable, durable machines, and they’ve proved that to be true,” said Manufacturing Supervisor Gabe Compton. “We also chose Tsugami because of their excellent customer service and their relationship with the Tsugami/Rem Sales distributor Ellison Technologies, with whom we were already affiliated.”

MacKay began using Esprit in early 2010 on a Mori Seiki machine and now runs five seats of the CAM software to generate code for multiple machines, including the Tsugami lathes.

“Esprit solved an issue common to many shops: How can we get a better, more efficient program to the production floor and do it before the job is ready to start?” Compton said. “We are now able to preprogram the parts before they are scheduled to go into the machine. This has proved to be far more productive than programming the job at the machine, which takes up valuable time that could be used to manufacture parts. Now we have the tools staged and setup sheets created before the job is scheduled to run. We just have to load the code, set the tools and go.”

Pairing Esprit and Tsugami has made MacKay more efficient, helping it reduce lead times for customers.


These modified handles and adapters (left) were programmed with Esprit CAM software and machined on a Tsugami B0326-II machine tool. These L-tip parts (right), which are for a device used in endoscopic surgeries, also were programmed with Esprit and machined on a Tsugami B0326-II. Images courtesy of MacKay Manufacturing

“The Tsugami lathes allow us to meet the requirements for increased parts production,” Compton said. “Their relative ease of use and durability have given us the ability to meet growing demand.”

For example, MacKay makes a small L-tip part for an endoscopic surgery device. The company initially ran the part as a lathe blank, meaning that all the round features would be run before sending the part to the milling department to cut the L shape. The lathe blank ran for a minute and a half on a Tsugami BS20 and then for an additional five minutes on a mill.

In the years since taking on the project, MacKay has acquired new cutting tool technology and speeder heads. Combined with increased knowledge of what is possible on a Tsugami B0326-II CNC automatic lathe and in Esprit, the company felt confident enough in 2017 to make the part using only a B0326-II.

“We can now machine this part in under three minutes and make a far better part than we had previously,” Compton said. “We have since taken on two other parts in this part family and make them entirely on the lathe as well. We couldn’t have done this without Esprit and their technical support, nor could we have done this without the capability of the Tsugami lathe.”

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