Tuesday | 03 August, 2021 | 2:18 pm

A century of commitment

Written by By Lauren Duensing

Above: Cosen Saws’ G-320 and G-325NC saws are handling the lion’s share of tool steel cutting at Superior Die Set.

Production sawing helps manufacturer continue to provide innovative solutions for customers

August 2021 - Keep production in house or outsource work? The answer depends upon myriad factors, from dollars to flexibility. In-house manufacturing often helps cultivate closer relationships with customers—and allows a company to quickly adapt and customize products to specific needs—while outsourcing can provide cost savings.

Superior Die Set Corp., based in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, has chosen to keep its production in house, where it’s been for almost a century. “As Superior Die Set approaches its 100th anniversary, we pride ourselves on our commitment to the metalworking industries that we serve,” says Matt Christel, business development manager. “As a fourth-generation, family owned company, our dedication to our company values is what drives our daily decision-making.”

Polish immigrant Kasimir Janiszewski, a blacksmith who became a tool-and-die maker, founded Superior Die Set in Milwaukee in 1923. The company moved to Oak Creek in 1963. Today, Kasimir’s grandsons Frank Janiszewski and his brother Casey are majority shareholders and co-chair the board of directors.

Christel says Superior Die Set’s No. 1 value is to “exhibit superior respect for all partners and employees,” and to do so with integrity, honesty and humility. “When we say partner, we mean it,” he says. “We have a number of customers that have been continuing their relationships with Superior Die Set for over 50 years. As we grow as a company, we continue to provide innovative solutions, including recently added tool steel, punch and die and precision mold components.”

Listen and learn

Christel says Superior Die Set moved to start its Tool Steel division within the last year “because we listened to the voices of our customers. Tool steel is a critical element of our customers’ success, and with our experience and capabilities already in house, we felt we could provide our customers with another option as a value-adding supplier.”

For tool steel applications, Superior Die Set has sought to become a one-stop shop, providing Blanchard grinding, saw trimming, 6-side precision milling, XRF material analysis and inkjet-marked parts; stocking materials up to 3.5 inches thick and including an inspection report with every order.

“We’ve had great feedback from our customers, as well as productive dialogue that we use to continue to improve our processes,” Christel says. “In addition to our high-quality edge milling and high-speed saw cutting abilities, our customers are continually impressed with our innovative part marking via inkjet printing, as well as our dimensional inspection reports, supplied with all orders.”

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Superior Die Set creates bar code outputs that can be scanned into the saws, minimizing human error. The saws are also capable of optimizing machining conditions.

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Production performance

High-speed, high-quality cutting of tool steel requires the right equipment, and as Superior Die Set began its journey to purchase saws for the new division, it focused on “finding machines with the ultimate combination of productivity, reliability and ease of use,” Christel says. “Specifically, with this being our first venture into production saw cutting, we needed machines that could be put into production as quickly as possible.” This hinged on the machines’ ease of use, and Superior Die Set’s team found that the NC control panels of the saws “are extremely intuitive, yet still provide incredible flexibility to meet our demands.”

A G-320 and two G-325NC saws from Cosen Saws, Charlotte, North Carolina, are handling the majority of the cutting at Superior Die Set. Both the G-320 and G-325NC are rugged, dependable saws, making them suitable for mass production settings. “The wide jaws and NC-controlled auto-feeders give us many opportunities to handle the secondary cuts that our customers require,” Christel says.

The company also runs a Cosen C-1000NC horizontal dual-column saw to process the largest pieces of material. “Whether cutting from large blocks or from rolled sheets, the nearly 40-inch-wide jaw allows us to handle large blocks for our customers and create the bar stock that we inventory to support fast turnaround times.”

Christel says that cutting tool steels can be challenging due to the high alloy content. “Cutting 1018 steel and even 4140PH can be very simple when compared to cutting cold-worked and high-speed steels. Cutting D2 steel, for example, requires a careful set of eyes and ears to understand what the high chromium content of the material is doing to your blade.”

Cosen worked with Superior Die Set to ensure that the training provided on the machines focused on the materials the company would be cutting every day, and the sawing manufacturer continues to provide support to ensure all machining variables are accounted for and optimized, “including recommendations on the consumables, like blades, coolant type, concentration levels and coolant flow. Cosen makes so much of this very easy for us on a day-to-day level, even identifying many key parameters right on the machine with clear imagery,” notes Christel.

Intuitive operation

Any of Superior Die Set’s operators can operate the machines “with ease.” In addition, “the ergonomics of the machine allow for extremely simple operation and upkeep. Blade changes are easy due to the machines’ accessibility, and so is our ability to make fine adjustments to the blade once back in action. The clear, touch-screen LCD panel makes for very easy adjustments and overall clarity.

Through development of its ERP system, Superior Die Set generates bar code outputs for its steel products. By having saws that can readily scan these codes, the company can minimize human error and avoid costly typos into the machine. “In addition, we can create a sequential program of various cut lengths and quantities with just a couple quick scans,” says Christel.

Although this was Superior Die Set’s first experience working with Cosen, Christel does not expect it to be the last.

“At the onset of this venture, our CEO Martin Girga, reached out to a number of production saw manufacturers, and Cosen stood out from the pack. Aside from the power and versatility offered throughout Cosen’s lineup, we felt we were going to receive an industry-leading level of support—and to this day, they continue to exceed expectations.” MM

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