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Sawing Technology
Monday | 06 February, 2012 | 3:28 pm

Angled for precision

By Nick Wright

Cut Technologies’ metal cutting saw blades deliver fast, clean results for service centers

January 2012- A relative newcomer to the metal- cutting circular saw market, Cut Technologies Inc., Bellingham, Wash., is finding its way into more service centers and metal suppliers with its line of U.S.-manufactured cermet and carbide grade tipped saw blades. Cut Tech has manufactured wood and band saw blades for the primary forest industry for 20 years, supplied metal band saws for 10 years and added its line of circular metal saws about five years ago, says Mike Cloutier, president.

“We’d seen more and more people were moving toward circular saw cutting in metal,” he says. “The ratio of cuts is three to five times faster than a band saw and is more accurate, so more of our customers were moving away from traditional band saw cutting and into circular.”

Each blade of Cut Tech’s high-production CTC-1000 cold saw line is made with German steel saw bodies and different tips: cermet grade 1 tip for mild and low-carbon steel, cermet grade 2 tip for use on steel with a carbon content greater than 0.4 percent—not suitable for cutting stainless—and a carbide tip specially made to cut stainless steel, depending on the material and the application. PVD coatings can be added.

At one of JD Norman Industries’ facilities in Leslie, Mich., the precision machining of drivetrain components for the often unseen inner workings of industrial transmissions and engines begins at the circular saw for the Addison, Ill.-based company.

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Critical components
“We make parts for BorgWarner, GM Powertrain, Siemens, Caterpillar,” among others, says Brian Lantz, purchasing agent at JD Norman. Lantz previously was production manager for 16 years. “A lot of our parts are for inner and outer races; that’s kind of our specialty. BorgWarner parts are going in transmissions, same with GM Powertrain.” For General Motors, JD Norman cuts components for the input shaft, output shaft and a hub in the Chevrolet Volt, he adds.

JD Norman has used both Cut Tech’s cermet and carbide blades and currently is cutting 1054V steel with the 80-tooth and 100-tooth-size CTCSS tungsten carbide blades, which have a hardness of 90.5 HRA, on a Daito saw. Lantz says Cut Tech sent him blades to test when JD Norman was searching for a second blade supplier with reduced delivery lead times.

The tooth count is suited for different thickness and desired finishes of the tubes. With the 80-tooth blade, for example, JD Norman cuts 1-inch-thick 1050 stainless steel tube, while the 100-tooth blade is better for 0.25-inch-thick wall tube.

The higher tooth count is ideal to reduce burr, says Ethan Roe, sales at Cut Tech. “You’ll start out with an 80 tooth [blade] on tube. That might leave a little bit more burr than the 100, but it’ll cut a little faster,” says Roe, who works directly with JD Norman. “A lot of it depends on the industry or company cutting. One customer might need a perfect finish after his cut, but he’s not a volume cutter. The other customer will cut 24/7 and is just going for parts per hour, doesn’t care much about finish, and they will use a blade with a lesser tooth count.”

Generally, the parts JD Norman produces measure between 2 inches OD for transmission parts and 4 inches OD for the races. For the latter, the blades will last through about 3,000 cuts based on a part count, and each cut “takes about four to six seconds,” says Lantz. Depending on the part being produced, it will move on to further processing, such as CNC operations, broaching and deburring and finishing.

Leading edge
The cermet tips, which are the alternative to carbide tips for cutting mild and low-carbon steel, are made from a ceramic-metallic compound that has higher abrasive wear resistance than carbide. Sourced from a Japanese company, the cermet tips are applied with a silver soldering braze-on using Kahny automatic tipping machines.

“We are very familiar with the tensioning and leveling with saws from our 20 years of experience manufacturing saws for the wood industry, which is very important, and attaching the tips to the saw, so it’s not a process for the light minded,” Cloutier says. “You have to be fully dedicated to the process to make it work, and that’s where we are.”

The successful development of Cut Tech’s CTC-1000 blades is the result of Cloutier’s commitment to research. When he decided to invest nearly $3 million in research and development for metal saw blades, the company sourced German-made Vollmer CP 200 robotic grinding centers, which were installed in the Bellingham, Wash., facility, says Cloutier. “We have to be exact on all the angles and bevels on the geometry of these saws, and the Vollmer CNC grinders allow us to do that.” Cut Tech’s newest purchase is the CP200, which grinds top angles and chamfers repeatedly with precise angles, allowing Cut Tech saws to have a smooth, clean cut finish.

Roe adds the blades alone aren’t the only factor in quality cutting. “It’s not only the tips. It’s the angles, grinding, saw body and the flatness tension in [the] saw. Everything has to be within 0.001 inch,” he says. “If you have any variance one way or the other, the saw will not perform to our customers’ expectations.”

Just in time
For service center Wisconsin Steel & Tube Corp., Milwaukee, the CTCHC cermet blades allowed it to supply local OEMs, contract manufacturers and machine shops reliably with parts that become CNC blanks, bushings and spacers. However, Steve Horwatich Jr., sawing department manager at Wisconsin Steel, says his relationship with Cut Tech is based on more than just the cermet blades. Also important are the customer service and just-in-time delivery.

Horwatich says Cut Tech’s blades cost less and perform comparably with its existing blades. Using them also eliminates the extended lead times with blades sourced from overseas. “Since these blades are manufactured domestically, we do not have the shipping problems,” he says. After Wisconsin Steel, which has 65 employees, switched to Cut Tech blades, its distributor began stocking all the cold saw blades the service center uses.

In one instance, Cut Tech shipped Wisconsin Steel a more expensive CTCSS-C, PVD-coated carbide blade at the same price as the CTCHC when it wasn’t in stock and didn’t charge for shipping. For about two years, the service center has used Cut Tech’s cermet-tipped blades on mild steel bars and tubing of various wall thicknesses. Horwatich says the CTCHC cermet blade yields 14,000 cuts on a 3-inch solid bar, 20,000 cuts on a 1-inch solid bar and 12,000 to 15,000 cuts on a 1-inch to 3-inch OD tube with 0.125 inch to 0.375 inch wall thickness.

“For the most part, we are cutting mild steel,” he says. “I found that the cost of the cobalt or stainless tip blades are much higher [than cermet] and the life of the blades are similar to carbide tip blades.”

Between the 60-tooth, 80-tooth and 100-tooth, 360-millimeter-diameter blades on its Nishijimax saw and the 60-tooth and 100-tooth, 420 millimeter blades on its Tsune saw, Wisconsin Steel provides products in carbon and alloy steel as well as stainless steel and aluminum bar and tube products, according to Horwatich.

The close communication and customer service is an attribute that Lantz at JD Norman experienced, as well. When corresponding with Roe, “I kept working with him there until I found a combo that worked really well for us, and he was very willing to work with us the whole time on it,” says Lantz.

Cut Tech’s manufacturing and headquarters in the United States allows the company to ship quickly from its inventory. “We’re American made,” says Cloutier. “We keep it on the shelf for them so we have just-in-time delivery, which is a big thing for them. We do that for a lot of companies. They’ll put in a blanket order for 36, 48 or 100 blades and they’ll take 10 to 12 a month. We’ll have them on the shelf and ship just in time so they don’t have to carry large inventory.”

Cloutier says Cut Tech is positioning itself for future growth as he sees the round saw metal cutting saw market growing. “We’re really interested in expanding our market share, and we are expanding up into Canada, Toronto—both sides of the border. It’s a real growing market and we’re seeing lots of doors open for a good, quality, American-made product.” MM

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