Things are looking up for KV Tooling Systems. The Augusta, Maine based machine shop (which specializes in tool re-sharpening and grinding, and custom tool design and creation) recently took home first prize as the ANCA Tool of the Year Award for 2019 recipient.
A nice way to end the year! Named one of the six finalists in the international competition, KV Tooling Systems stood alone at the top of the podium. Rounding out the top three included companies from Poland and Israel, respectively. The custom tool that KV Tooling Systems created is a multi-function tool created for a customer that needed to inscribe grooves in aluminum military vehicle suspension components. The design and eventual end-product that KV Tooling’s founder, Brian Beland, and his team were able to put together replaced the functions of six different tools – a prime example of what 35 years of experience and know-how will do for you when you set to accomplish such a feat in making a manufacturing process more efficient.
Judging for the ANCA Tool of the Year award took place at EMO, the world’s largest industrial trade show, in September over in Hanover, Germany. Each of the six finalists was judged on five unique criteria:
- Tool size tolerance
- Conformation to the tool tolerance
- Surface finish
Re-sharpening, otherwise known as re-conditioning a cutting tool, is a process where the tool is put into a cutter grinding machine, either CNC or manual, and a grinding wheel is applied to remove the worn areas. Care is taken to measure the amount of stock removal so as to remove just enough to recover the sharp clean edge without reducing the tool diameter to excess.
From a humble startup out of a garage to the recipient of an acclaimed international award, KV Tooling Systems have big things in store for the (near) future. Since inception in 2001 the company has been carving out its own little niche in the tooling market of the manufacturing industry. The business started as a tool re-sharpening and grinding operation which still accounts for 50% of the work conducted from a scal vantage point. Beland is a life-long machinist who took note of the fact that the company he was working for pre-2001 was shipping out tools for re-sharpening, rather than keeping all that work in-house due to bandwidth challenges. Wondering why there wasn’t a more localized option, he formulated a business plan, sought the consultation of a lender, and purchased his first machine to re-sharpen and grind tools “on the side.” Eventually that turned into his full-time occupation and KV Tooling Systems was truly born.
Currently situated in a 1,500 square foot facility, Beland expects KV Tooling Systems to have a new home by mid-2020 enabling him to expand his fleet of machines and workforce to take on larger and/or more contracts. The recognition from ANCA has certainly helped shed positive light and gain on the business.
HOW DID KV TOOLING SYSTEMS GET HERE?
It all started with Beland’s fascination of the cutter- grinder functionality and process and his lifelong commitment to the studies of the technological advancements in the machining industry. By working with customers to aide in re-sharpening and grinding their used tools, he simultaneously put himself in position to see countless different tools and the form and function they served in their unique manufacturing processes. At the end of the day, KV Tooling Systems was saving their customers money by bringing new life to old/used tools while at the same time, giving Beland and his team insight into how they could better serve the industry by offering keen design and better tool efficiencies for custom jobs.
Back to the tool re-sharpening and grinding vantage point for a minute…
Often, this number is approximately 10% of the original tool diameter. So, a 1.00” diameter end mill can be ground down to .900” diameter and still perform similar to new.
Below this 10% threshold a choice can be made to recycle the tool or remanufacture it. The reason is that the ute form changes with the reduction of diameter. The shallower ute form will not allow chips to ow as they were intended to thus reducing performance. Clearances will change as well and rubbing could occur unless feed rates are reduced.
KV Tooling Systems finds that their customer sources can re-sharpen tools anywhere from 3 to 7 times, which brings signi cant savings on the cost of the tooling consumed.
Some of the wide array of tools KV Tooling services include:
- Carbide and HSS end mills
- Chamfer Mills
- Milling cutters
- Key cutters
- Dovetail cutters
- Conical cutters
- Port contour cutters
- Thread mills
- Line bores
- Wood router bits
- And others…
KV Tooling Systems facilitate customer order turnaround in the order they arrive, but can expedite jobs upon request in as little as four days.
From the custom tool perspective, KV Tooling Systems is filling a nice little niche in the manufacturing world as more and more manufacturers are being asked to produce short runs, which, in turn, require short runs of custom tooling to accomplish these orders.
Specific features require custom tools, and generally there’s not a lot of repeat in these situations, so larger companies don’t take on the work. That’s where KV Tooling comes into play. Not only can they help design the tool you might be looking for, but they can produce the short run for you and get you on your way.
KV Tooling Systems use their expertise – from in- house CAD capabilities to their 35 years of cutting, milling, drilling, sawing, and machining operations – to create informed, optimized custom tooling that:
- Combine operations
- Reduce cycle times
- Improve part and finish quality
They work to design and manufacture customer cutters, end mills, inserts, and saws to include:
- Taper with Radii
- Back tapers
- Special forms
- And more…
To bring things full circle here, their latest ANCA Tool of Year Award proves that they have the knowledge and wherewithal to look at the prospective use of the custom tool you’re looking to have designed and built, and figure out ways to optimize performance – not only in the quality of the tool’s physical makeup, but also the modes of use and features the tool includes, or ought to include. Again, the tool that earned them that prestigious global honor took a look at the customer’s need and literally built functionality into the finished product that replaced the workforce operation of six-separate tools. That’s amazing. That’s pushing the industry forward.
As KV Tooling Systems steps into the new year, keep them in mind for all your tooling needs and keep an eye on their website for further announcements regarding their impending expansion and the prospect of producing their own product line.