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Coil Processing
Wednesday | 25 November, 2015 | 9:51 am

Confidence in slitting

By Nick Wright

Since Admiral Steel started up its 14-inch slitter, quoting accurate narrow-width jobs is SOP

November 2015 - At Admiral Steel, they take slitting seriously. The company, in Alsip, Illinois, has been doing it for more than 50 years. As it is, the customer base is so diversified that it defies categorical summary by industry.

“I have an active customer list in the thousands,” says Brett Zischke, sales manager at Admiral Steel. The service center fills the gaps and niches for just about any industry, “from agriculture to aerospace to Admiral,” as its trade show motto says. It even sells to a customer that inserts steel into custom orthotic shoe soles. The applications and uses for spring steel are boundless. 

The company’s slitter setup, using four lines, reflects applications whose base material needs could be 1 pound or 10,000 pounds. Three of the slitters are arranged in a way that lets them feed into a continuous coil packaging line (which is in phase 2 of installation). One of those is a precision loop slitting system from K&S Machinery, Linden, New Jersey, which is the workhorse of Admiral Steel’s smaller slitting jobs, up to 14 inches wide. The others handle 36-, 24- and 12- inch-wide coils.

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The K&S Machinery slitter is designed to accommodate smaller mill coils, typically weighing 6,000 pounds. 

Let’s zoom out for a moment: Overall Admiral slits everything from 1008/1010 low carbon dead soft strip steel to blue tempered 1095 spring steel. Those are hardness values that go from RB 50 to RC 50. It also stocks and processes a line of high carbon annealed spring steels, 4130 aircraft quality steels and with 5160 and 6150. The thicknesses its slitters process are between 0.003 inch to 0.187 inch.  

The K&S Machinery slitter and subsequent tooling was designed and developed to run a sweet spot of 0.003 inch to 0.06 inch thick and from 0.25-inch to 14 inches wide.  

The Ultra Precision Tooling is manufactured in Germany by slitting tool maker Neuenkamp, with whom K&S Machinery has worked for 15 years. The combination of close tolerance tooling and the slitter head’s bearing design makes for minimum camber and no burr.

“It is fully capable of slitting narrower, but market and sales research defined my choice for selecting tooling down to a 0.250-inch minimum,” says Zischke. Narrower tooling, should Admiral Steel need it, can be easily added to its existing array. All its tooling setups are computerized, making the calculation of tooling adjustments a breeze.

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Admiral Steel has four slitting lines. The line built by K&S Machinery  accommodates coils up to 6,000 pounds.

Slicing up markets

Admiral Steel operates from a 100,000-square-foot warehouse that is kept fastidiously clean. Although the company may be best known nationally and globally for processing and distributing high carbon and alloy flat-rolled steels, this same facility houses two other divisions that service local markets, says Zischke. One division sells low-carbon bars, angles, channels, tubing, HRCQ sheets and plates, and expanded metal. Further adding to Admiral’s ability to identify and service niche markets, Zischke says the company is also a premier supplier to the custom knife making industry. “Our Admiral blade steel catalog and online store has grown to make us top dog in both national and global supply.” 

Before introducing the K&S Machinery slitter, Admiral processed most light-gauge and narrow coil on an older Tishkin slitter. Although it yields a product that meets quality standards for slit steel, the company wanted to add even more value to its slit products. Using the K&S Machinery slitter satisfied Admiral Steel’s desire for advanced technology and engineering for light-gauge and narrow slitting. The bonus consequence has been improved edges, minimal to nonexistent camber and higher productivity, so  all the service center’s goals are met.

“I was networking with my equipment vendors and subcontractors when the K&S name was dropped to me.  I wanted a quality slitter capable of very light gauge and narrow slitting capability,” he says. “I worked closely with everyone at K&S as we went from vision to installation. The engineers at K&S were able to take my development specifications and offer equipment with the proper design specs.”

According to Nick Cereste, president of K&S Machinery, Admiral’s slitting line has advanced electronics that coordinate the most important parts of the line: the entry loop which makes a smooth transition into the slitter head and the exit loop which works in conjunction with the elevating tension stand. K&S Machinery’s proprietary Quadruplex bearing design, which includes six precision bearings, supports each slitter arbor. 

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The “horn” transports slit and rewound coils to a conveyor for packaging.

“This is the most precise and dependable design for processing light-gauge precision materials,” Cereste says. “This precision arrangement assures maximum axial rigidity and minimum runout. The design—along with our precision tooling which is manufactured in Germany—ensures dependable and accurate setups, thus eliminating burr, producing tight width tolerance and minimizing camber on the finished strips.”

The design of K&S Machinery’s tension stand keeps the last guide roll at the 12 o’clock position in relation to the coil OD. The tension stand elevates and keeps the last guide roll in the same position until the coil is completed. The guide roll does not touch the coil which, along with the geometry of the guide roll, assures tight, straight sided coils, 0.25-inch wide and larger up to 48 inch OD.

Admiral Steel runs two shifts. One shift is 100 percent production and the second is partial production with a focus on shipping, receiving and stocking. The slitting lines feed into a rolling conveyor system that ends up at a packaging line.

The crew at Admiral Steel ships orders of all sizes. “There are days that the UPS driver really hates us,” Zischke jokes. “Our ability to set up and process smaller, custom runs of top shelf product that ships in a few days is what really put us on the map.” 

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The K&S Machinery precision slitter leaves no burr on the coil edge.

The company has parlayed that practice into its larger runs, making Admiral Steel known for its strip quality and spring steels in any quantity. When the time comes to make capital improvements, the targeted equipment must meet that same criteria. In that regard, the K&S Machinery slitter makes Admiral Steel’s job easier. “From a sales perspective, it is comforting to be 100 percent confident when quoting and selling narrow, precision slitting jobs from the K&S slitter. Moreover, our quality manager is feeling like the Maytag repairman,” says Zischke. 

As a union shop, Admiral Steel is as tight as a family can get. “We all pull on the same end of the rope to make things happen. Both sales and production ebb and flow, and we are fine-tuned to make any necessary adjustments to meet specific customer demands,” says Zischke. The same goes for its equipment.

Before the K&S Machinery slitter’s installation, there were instances where Zischke wanted to review technical engineering specifications because he was concerned that the resulting slitter may not perform the functions he wanted. “I am an all-or-none kind of guy when it comes to processing equipment. I want the biggest bang for the buck, and I don’t want to look back and think ‘I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.’ K&S followed me as I put them through some engineering twists and turns and tweaks. In the end, I am thrilled with the resulting product,” he says. “As precision slitters go, it’s a real thoroughbred.” MM

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