Some good ideas are meant to last, some just get better. So did the Cates flow controller, invented in 1957 by Chicago instrument maker Willard Cates. Since then, its original design has been constantly improved. It can now be found in everything from robotic paint lines for family cars to liquid mixing and dosing systems, high pressure hydrogen plants, semiconductor processing equipment and English cupcake-making equipment.
In 1984, Cates sold his valve design and manufacturing company to Frank Taube II, who then moved production to its current location in Madison Heights, Michigan. The company is now owned by the vice president’s son, John Taube, and the president’s wife, Susan, who changed their name to Custom Valve Concepts (CVC) in 2005.
While Kates control valves remain the “core product” of an 80 year old manufacturing company, CVC and its team of over 40 mechanics, engineers and support staff provide a range of services including industrial design and precision machining. The company also uses advanced manufacturing and software tools to ensure future success.
A valued member of the CVC team, Product Technology Manager Vitaliy Cisyk is very proud of the long and successful history of Kates Self-Regulating Valves. “This is a unique product,” he said. “We design them, we build and test them, and we ship them all over the world for countless applications. When asked what went wrong, the answer was, “Nothing, we just thought it was time for maintenance. ‘”
Cisyk is new to this operation, having joined CVC in early 2021, but he quickly made progress. Soon, Cisyk began to introduce advanced technologies to increase the growth rate and efficiency of the shop. One was a successful software product he launched while working for BMT Aerospace USA Inc., a large transmission manufacturer near Fraser, Michigan.
“BMT Aerospace has acquired VERICUT, a CNC simulation software developed by CGTech in Irvine, California, to avoid collisions on DMG Mori’s high-precision five-axis DIXI levels,” says Cisyk. “I took a look at this machine and told management that we needed to invest in toolpath simulation and optimization software. However, its use soon spread to other machines, especially in five-axis machining. No shop should be without it.”
A similar situation with CVC. The company has an equally impressive range of equipment, including Mazak, Okuma 5-axis systems and Hardinge Y-axis turn-mill machines, Swiss-style turning centers and other CNC equipment.
Many machines are equipped with Renishaw detection systems and glass rulers for improved accuracy. This allows CVC to process a wide range of complex parts and eclectic material combinations, from Hastelloy and Stellite to Delrin, PVC and PEEK.
CVC also took its first steps in additive manufacturing using a Markforged 3D printer as part of the company’s participation in the Automation Alley project in Troy, Michigan in the DIAOnD project, an initiative “dedicated to helping manufacturers scale to increase their flexibility and the sustainability of their Industry 4.0″. activity.”
Cisyk is fully supportive of anything related to Industry 4.0, although he is quick to point out that the printer was originally introduced to address shortages of PPE and ventilator parts during the pandemic. It is now used for less urgent needs such as printing jigs, soft sponges, fixtures and alternative test parts.
“Last use seems like a luxury, but even with a good CAM system, it’s nice to have a reliable part in your hands,” says Cisyk. “It helps you visualize how you approach the job, what tools to use, how far they need to extend, and get input from others. It also helps the quality department plan for tooling and measuring equipment needs.”
However, VERICUT had the biggest impact on the CVC shop. Shortly after purchasing the software (before it was widely available), the company began processing several complex prototype orders. Cisik explained that, using the power of conversational programming, CVC was usually successful in meeting short-term needs, but this time there were problems with part quality and tool life when machining small, deep cavities in the workpiece.
After spending several hours, CVC sent the program to the machine development team to no avail. “They tweaked something and sent it back to us, and it didn’t work,” Cisyk laments. “The job required a 0.045” [1.14mm] end mill, and whatever we tried, it cut off the part and damaged the tool.”
Although VERICUT was not fully implemented, Cisyk and the mechanics worked together to solve the problem. After a quick review of what worked and what didn’t, they determined that the cut options chosen to control the dialogue were too conservative. So the duo decided to optimize the program with Force, CGTech’s physics-based CNC program optimization software module for analyzing and optimizing cutting conditions.
“The results were stunning!” Zisek said. “The parts are finished and of high quality, the cutting tools are still intact, there is no more gouging. Like many senior machinists and programmers, my colleagues were skeptical that we had purchased VERICUT for the first time, but this time events convinced him.”
This attitude is not uncommon. Adopting new technologies is always a challenge, says Cisyk, especially for more experienced workers with significant programming skills. “Everyone has an idea of the best way to machine a part. While we’re proud of them and appreciate their input, VERICUT captures what people can’t,” he added. “Once you show them this or prevent an accident that could cost tens of thousands of dollars, doubts will disappear.”
“During the last workshop with CGTech, they interviewed participants, and I was surprised to find that many people have not yet used Force,” Cisyk admits. “From my experience at Force, I can tell you that on some jobs we have reduced cycle times by 12-25 percent. But even with just a few percent improvement, tool life has increased significantly. It has made the process more consistent and predictable.”
Although Cisyk has just begun his ongoing improvement efforts, he is already making a difference. “Vitaly is a very experienced engineer and he quickly learned the benefits of VERICUT and Force,” said Mark Benedetti, CGTech Sales Engineer. “He is easy to work with because he understands CNC manufacturing.”
CVC installed MSC Industrial consumables vending machines, implemented CNC Software’s Mastercam to enhance existing GibbsCAM capabilities, and set up tool management and offline preset strategies.
“VERICUT, powerful CAM system and standalone barcode presets. That’s it, bam! Now you have a closed system,” Cisyk exclaims. “This is the way forward for us, but we have not yet pulled the trigger because we are taking small steps and we know that we need to complete one project before we move on to another. But at the same time, it’s really necessary.” Tool Management This is huge. Companies lose a lot of money because they don’t know. It’s an unknown factor.”
More well known is the effect of VERICUT on CVC performance. “We expect more growth, but in order to effectively handle this, you need reliable, reproducible processes,” Cisyk said, adding that this requires confidence in the system.
He concluded, “So, yes, there is still a lot of work to be done, but for now, I am happy to know that we have a programming environment free of the bugs and glitches without the surprises that plague so many machine shops. . This is provided by VERICUT.”
For information on custom valve concepts, visit www.customvalveconcepts.com or call 248-597-8999. For information about CGTech, visit www.cgtech.com or call 949-753-1050.
Post time: Mar-24-2023