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Specialist wood tool manufacturer improves machining productivity with Vibration Damped Pallets from System 3R

Luton-based Whitehill Spindle Tools are one of the few remaining UK manufacturers of specialist cutter tools for the manufacture of wooden doors, windows and other architectural features such as dado rails and picture rails. In order to keep pace with the late 20th century resurgence of wood, they solved their need for getting more from their existing machining centre by using Vibration Damped Palletisation (VDP) from System 3R as their prime workholding tool.

“ Unfortunately retrofitting a fully-automated robot to our Mazak vertical mill wasn’t a possibility,” explained M.D. David Hudson, “ so we took the easier option of adding this state-of-the-art palletisation on our twin pallet machine.”

“ System 3R were really helpful in loaning us a MacroMagnum circular VDP chuck to prove the point and we soon saw the benefits so bought it!”

The search for more environmentally-friendly sustainable timber has not only led to the usage of a wider variety of woods but also created the need for manufacturers to
introduce new wooden doors and windows to the marketplace. Whitehill works closely with these manufacturers and design new cutter tools for them to make both standard and bespoke products. Their product range has thus substantially expanded over the past few years.

These cutter tools are machined from circular aluminium or mild steel billets into which, after machining, high-speed steel or carbide cutter blades and limiters are inserted. A wide range of cutter blades and limiters cut different profiles, shapes and grooves into the wood.

Each cutter head has a central bore and before machining they are slid onto a mandrel fixed to a circular pallet which then locks down onto the VDP chuck on the machine table and the one in the pallet changer.

The efficient vibration damping of the VDP system is essential especially when cutting speeds need to be raised on heavy cuts – especially on mild steel. The need to slow the machine down has been eliminated even at its maximum speed of 12000 rpm

“ We can now cut faster without any vibration affecting the machining and I would estimate that VDP has given us a 15-20% increase in productivity,” enthused David Hudson.

“ It also allows us to use harder solid carbide tooling when we need to, without fear of any vibration affecting the machining operation. And, we have noticed that we can do more with the same tool, so tool life has also improved.”

Setting up another pallet in the pallet changer ensures that changing from one job to another takes seconds, with the added assurance of guaranteed accuracy and repeatability.

Productivity is thus enhanced by reducing machine downtime, especially at the end of the day when it can be set up for two ‘lights-out’ jobs which could each have a cycle time of up to 1 hour.

Whitehill Spindle Tools has engineering origins that date back to 1889, when the present MD’s great-grandfather, Ernest Hudson, made straw dyeing machines and steam heads for the hat trade, for which Luton is world-renowned. Then Mr. White and Mr. Hill approached him in the early 1930’s with an idea for a round cutter tool for timber – which he continued to make without change until the early 1990s. And, as they say, the rest is history.

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