For fabricators and suppliers to fabricators, a substantial percentage of their sawing will require a miter saw. It’s bad enough to have to throw away parts due to minor sawing miscues, but being a fraction of a degree off in a cut on one part can throw off an entire assembly, leading to big losses in material, time and money. Mistakes made in cutting angles and lengths are common miter sawing errors that challenge many manufacturers, especially those that require tight tolerances.
Behringer Saws Inc. manufactures high-performance bandsawing machines and circular cold saws, including a series of HBP automatic miter saws. The company enables successful miter sawing via a solid machine foundation and an emphasis on automation and material handling that reduce the bottlenecks that can occur at the saw.
It’s true that the best machine tools in each category, whether miter saws or horizontal or vertical bandsaws, offer a performance equal to their “price/value proposition.” However, utilizing high-performance machines that have longer lifespans and make better cuts offers the lowest cost per quality cut and the lowest total cost of ownership. Behringer’s insistence on using castings rather than weldments in its saws is a good example.
Joe Suydam, who works inside sales and marketing at Behringer, says rigidity is something Behringer won’t compromise on when it engineers a saw. With its own state-of-the-art foundry on the Behringer property, every saw is made with a high percentage of cast iron in the frame.
Why cast iron? Accurate cuts require rigidity. Behringer goes this extra mile with cast iron because it dampens vibration.
Vibration can lead to a low-quality cut or require a secondary operation such as deburring before it can move to the next operation, which is typically welding. Suydam says many saw manufacturers use steel weldments in their saw bases, which does nothing to dampen vibration.
“For consistency and rigidity, you have to start from the ground up,” Suydam says, “which is what Behringer has done for many years.”
Accuracy is Key
Miter sawing has to be precise and parts have to come out of the miter saw ready for the next step in the production process. In other words, operators can’t compromise when it comes to precision miter sawing.
“A highly accurate, very rigid machine capable of eliminating secondary operations is the ultimate goal,” Suydam says.
Some of the most sophisticated saws on the market include material positioning systems, including feeding grippers, that offer accuracy to ±0.005 in. With a focus on better head positioning, miter accuracy can be as tight as one-tenth of 1 degree. This ensures angle and length tolerance accuracy, and it’s what Behringer has engineered into the HBP miter saw series.
Suydam says thanks to this accuracy, most everything that comes off the saw can go straight to a robotic welding system, which allows customers to skip a secondary step, such as double-checking miter accuracy. This is important because more fabricators are increasingly moving toward automated welding.
“The ability to achieve that small tolerance of one-tenth of 1 degree is one of the main capabilities that sets us apart from others,” Suydam says. “Factor that with the cast iron components of the saw and we are able to deliver speed, precision and durability.”
As an example of a tight miter tolerance requirement, a Behringer customer wanted to integrate automated laser welding into its build process. In order to efficiently utilize this automated welding process, it was critical that the components be held in tight contact along the weld area. The joint to be welded could have no gap between the components. Behringer was able to demonstrate through testing that its saws could generate an accurate miter consistently, and allow for the angled parts to be aligned tightly with no further work required.
An additional challenge for the customer was that these were very thin metal tubes and, in order to assure tight tolerances, the material had to be firmly clamped in the saw. To prevent crushing the thin tubes, Behringer utilized a combination of reduced clamping pressure along with a set of form jaws, which prevented the hydraulic clamps from deforming the tube, thus generating an out-of-tolerance miter. With this combination of sawing quality, accuracy and clamping, the customer was able to move the miter cut parts directly from the saw to the automated weld process.
To offer another example of why precision is so important, consider cutting a 6-in. square tube at 45 degrees at both ends. When accuracy is off on both sides and the cut is actually made at 46 degrees at both ends, the part is now 0.42 in. too long, which exceeds most customers’ specifications and wastes material.
To eliminate out-of-tolerance miters, it’s important that the automation system calculate the actual width of material being cut and not just the nominal mill width. Even if the material is within the mill tolerance, it doesn’t mean that small variances won’t have a negative impact on the length of the cut part. Behringer’s PC controls and standard programming for material optimization calculation ensure that these variances (errors) do not occur.
PC Control and Automation
Through the utilization of today’s latest sawing technologies, fabricators can put to rest concerns about accurate, repeatable and efficient miter sawing. No longer do they have to rely on the operator’s ability to calculate, measure, align and position material in the appropriate configuration or order.
With a high-quality PC-controlled miter saw, the operator can literally select a job, which may even have been designed and loaded from an office remotely, put the proper material in the gripper and push start. The saw will find the leading edge, generate a trim cut if required and then process the job.
Ultimately, the ROI on new miter saw technology is generated in a number of ways. Perhaps, as in the example above, it’s by introducing a new process, or it can be as simple as scrap reduction and dramatic gains in speed and efficiency in processing orders.
All but one model in the HBP miter series (the 310-403 G/A) come standard with a 3-m material handling feed gripper and a PC control module.
The PC control is the brain of the automation in the HBP series. Operators can use it at the saw, or managers can use the PC control remotely to input all the data necessary to run as many different cuts as needed.
Miter angles, length, material grade, feeds and speeds – everything can be manipulated from the PC controller.
“This is a big advantage because not all operators are fully knowledgeable about the feeds, speeds and blades required in sawing,” Suydam notes. “This takes operator error out of the equation, which leads to less scrap and better throughput.”
Using the PC controller, the operator can also optimize material handling. For instance, if the user is mitering parts for window or door frames, they can input the different sizes and angles to the saw, and once the cuts are made, the saw is programmed to drop the finished parts in specific bins via the material handling system.
“We have the capability to auto-miter and auto-feed circular cold saws as well,” Suydam says, adding that it is not uncommon to see bandsaws and circular saws used in the same shops.
“There are numerous size ranges to accommodate user applications,” Suydam says of the HBP miter saw series, which range from the HBP 263A/G with a round capacity of 10.2 in. to the HBP 800/1004G/A with a round capacity of 31.8 in.
To keep pace with throughput when saws are making faster, cleaner cuts, manufacturers have to factor in potential bottlenecks that can occur. To address this, material coming in and cut parts moving out of the saw may require material handling solutions, which Behringer can custom design and build for customers.
“One of the great advantages Behringer has over competitors is that we provide a lot of in-house material handling production solutions. We can add infeed magazines, pushers, tilt tables and many different features for any application,” Suydam continues. Customers’ many and varied applications, along with their expectations, have spawned expanded product lines and specialty equipment, such as material handling.
“Productivity gains and throughput are paramount,” he adds. “Part of this process can include material handling and customized fabrication for accomplishing the customer’s goals.”