The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University keeps West Virginia manufacturers and entrepreneurs on the leading edge of technology by providing access to the latest manufacturing equipment – and the expertise to use it. This innovative edge can make all the difference in solving the most difficult manufacturing challenges and save – as in time and money.
The newest addition to RCBI’s stable of advanced technology is generating a lot of buzz before it’s even fully operational. Half a dozen West Virginia manufacturers are lined up to take advantage of the new Tsugami Swiss turn that just arrived at RCBI Huntington.
Those interested include a small business visionary who believes the computer-controlled Tsugami is the ideal machine to produce his latest innovation, and a West Virginia-based Defense supplier, for whom the new technology will save time and considerable money by reducing the number of machine setups (dropping from four or five to one!) currently required to produce certain components that it manufactures.
Therein lies one of the chief advantages of the Swiss-type technology: full automation after the initial setup. In fact, with its self-feeding technology, the Tsugami is capable of producing hundreds – even thousands – of precise metal parts in a single run. Which brings us to the second major advantage: accuracy.
Swiss-type technology is more precise than traditional computer-controlled lathes because it holds the metal closer to the actual cutting point, reducing distortion caused by tool deflection. Tolerances can be within one micron (a human hair is about 70 microns thick)! This benefit makes it the go-to manufacturing equipment for producing parts for aerospace, medical technology and other high-end industrial applications for which accuracy is paramount.
RCBI’s existing Swiss technology in South Charleston, while highly efficient and accurate, cannot machine parts as large as the new Tsugami, which can accommodate bar stock that is 33 millimeters, or about 1.25 inches in diameter while spinning at up to 8,000 rpm. Its tapping, drilling and threading features eliminate the need to use other equipment to machine secondary features.
While it may sound complicated, the relative ease of operation is another important feature of the Tsugami. This straightforwardness makes it ideal for use by major manufacturers and even novice innovators alike. Of course, RCBI’s experienced staff of machinists, technicians and engineers always are ready to lend a hand if their expertise is needed.
The Tsugami and RCBI’s new Wire EDM (electrical discharge machining) technology in Huntington, which uses electricity to cut and smoothly shape complex metal components, were made possible through America’s Cutting Edge, a U.S. Department of Defense-funded initiative to restore the prominence of American manufacturing by scaling up machine tool training and technology to engage and develop the next generation of machinists. RCBI partners with the Composites Institute to deliver free training to individuals of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels.
In the coming months, RCBI plans to add even more advanced technology to the $22 million-plus in equipment that it now offers in Huntington and South Charleston for leased use by individuals and industry. Stay tuned for details!
Jan. 26, 2023