May 7, 2010
When it’s time to purchase a cold saw for your fabricating operation, how can you be sure that you’re choosing the right equipment? Knowing the questions to ask can help you make the appropriate selection.
Selecting the right cold saw is a task that often seems to be very difficult for many companies. When searching for a cold saw, most fabricators are looking for a machine that will give them flexibility in size and range of cutting speeds to accommodate any materials from nonferrous to ferrous alloys. As is the case with most equipment purchases, knowing the questions to ask yourself and the potential supplier is instrumental in selecting the correct cold saw machine.
This question should be broken down into two items: material size/shape and material type. You must ensure that the cold saw has the correct cutting capacity for the largest and smallest sizes that you want to cut.
The saw also must have the available speeds and feeds to accommodate the material alloys you are going to cut. For instance, aluminum and copper may be machined at a much higher surface speed than stainless steel or other difficult alloys. Make sure to ask potential equipment suppliers which speed is right for your product mix. You don’t want to purchase a cold saw for cutting stainless steel and find out the available speeds are two times higher than you need to effectively cut this material. Identifying the alloys will also aid in selecting the type of coolant system you will require, flood or misting.
If you are cutting miscellaneous sizes, shapes, and alloys with small production runs, 100 pieces or less at a time, then a manual machine may be suitable for your application. If you intend to cut larger quantities of various materials, then a semiautomatic version may prove to be more economical. If your production runs are consistently more than 1,000 pieces at a time, and the product mix is not extremely diversified, then a fully automatic machine likely is ideal for you.
One of the most important points to remember is that material handling consumes the vast majority of the cycle time in any cold sawing operation. By optimizing material handling, you will have the most efficient operation.
New cold saw machines range in price from $1,000 to more than $1 million. Their functions and production rates are as varied as their price tags. Some small fabricators do well with a small, benchtop cold saw that is intended for cutting very small quantities of light-gauge material. Others need more automation and flexibility to cover their range of sizes and material types.
Make sure that you consider the previous two questions when you establish your budget. You may set your budget too low and never find a saw that will accomplish the tasks you need.
Most cold saws are provided with a one-year warranty on parts. Make sure to determine which parts are covered — all or only a select few.
The majority of cold saw machines are manufactured in Europe and Asia. It is imperative that the U.S. importer or sales agent keeps a stock of common replacement parts. Few companies can afford downtime caused by delayed shipments of spare parts.
Cold sawing operations include several consumables, such as common wear parts, cold saw blades, and coolant or cutting lubricant. These items represent the bulk of the consumables for any cold saw. Besides knowing the actual capital equipment, overhead, and employee costs, you need to know what your consumables will cost as well. You can arrive at a cost per cut for any given material by calculating these values and knowing what the blade life should be.
Many different variables must be considered when trying to decide which cold saw is right for your operation. To aid you in your decision, consider sending a sample of your material to potential equipment suppliers. Given the opportunity to review your part and make sample cuts, a supplier should be able to give you helpful information and cutting data. This data should include the correct blade, the cutting speed, the feed rate and chip load per tooth, the recommended coolant type, the cut time, the cycle time, and the production rate per hour for any given part. It also is important to consider any special length tolerances that may be present for a given application. With this information in hand, you can narrow your choice and select the right cold saw.