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  1. #1
    mitty38382's Avatar
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    Question Who is using a Flex Arm tapper besides Tony

    I have been looking at the Flex Arm tappers to do tapping off the CNC machine. We don't tap anything larger than 1/2-20.

    So who is using them and what is your experience with them. Can you form tap with them (3/8-16). How long have you had yours? Any maintenance issues?

    Been thinking of using it with a fixture or jig to hold our parts (plate work) so I can shoot holes. What kind of air consumption?

    Frank S. in Tennessee

  2. #2
    ARB's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    We have 4 here at the plant and I have one at the home shop. 2 have been here since 1986.
    They are a must have in my book. I can't hardly imagine a shop without one.
    We use the one in the toolroom every single day. Quick and easy.

    Broken taps are pretty darn rare.

    We keep a cordless drill with a countersink right on the table where the air tapper is. Supper handy.

  3. #3
    ShinyMetal is offline Plastic
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    Had one for 15+ years. Like ARB, can't imagine life without one.

    Ronnie

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    JH-Q is offline Aluminum
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    There is one CMA hydraulic tapping machine where i work at. It is a great machine, beats most CNC equipment in tapping stainless. Mainly because it uses oil/threading paste as lubricant, and has higher low rpm torque. We have used to tap with it from M2.5 up to M24x3 threads on stainless. The adjustable clutch mechanism on the tap holders is great, tapping blind holes to the bottom without being afraid of breaking a tap. Long runs tend to get dirty and boring with the oil, but othervise no complaints.

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    Wren is offline Aluminum
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    what's wrong with the machine?

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    Wren

    I'm looking at doing the tapping while the machine is doing other things. The calculated savings are great.
    Lower cost from tool changes
    Reduced chance of tap breakage
    Faster Setup and flexibility
    plus many more benefits

    I'll still drill the holes in the machine, but I think there is less risk of breaking things and being able to monitor the taps on a machine that is not enclosed. Spinning a tap in with 10HP won't reveal problems with the tap until its too late.

    I looked at Flex-Arm before several years ago just never got around to getting one. Buy one and maybe we can get a quantity discount. Tony and others use them in a production environment and you have to wonder why and what do they know that we don't? Maybe it could be that they are better at tapping than ramming a poor helpless tap into Aluminum at break neck speed in the hopes that the tap won't break or threads won't be torn, shredded, mis-formed etc. Not to mention a screwed up part that reduces the number of units to be sold until a replacement part is made. So costs add up quick.

    Just looking at alternatives. Looking at opportunities. Just think I can get a high school kid - mind full of mush - to do actual labor and learn stuff and learn a skill and help me out and cut cycle time and tool changes.

    Frank S. in Tennessee

    The Litz runs great, nothing wrong with it - just spreading out the work load. Wish I had another one then I could work myself to death just getting caught up with backlog. No more typing, must work! Boss says do something so must go!

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    Hey ARB

    Can you form tap with it or are you limited to traditional taps and "cutting" threads? If you don't know maybe someone does.

    Frank S. in Tennessee

    "Actually had a customer call up and say "You are behind on deliveries by more than 3 weeks." What are "we" going to do about it? "How are 'we' going to resolve this today" (WTF - we $hit). So after 4 hours of sleep and working away until 2 am on parts, I tell him "Listen I worked on the parts until 2am, if you want it any faster then drive from California and you can run the machines. But thank you for calling."

    Yep I know why manufacturers go out of business, they get tired of the I want it now B.S. and made in USA.

  8. #8
    Milacron's Avatar
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    FWIW, I used to manufacture these (see below) and in fact sold my product line to Flexarm (Midwest Specialties) back in 1999.

    Regardless, from what I've observed since then, the Spanish made arms, such as the Roscamat, are really superior in a number of ways, esp as regards to multiple speed possiblities on the motors ....but may not be as good for service and parts...dunno... Have you looked into the other arms ?

    www.roscamatusa.com




    The was my "A32" model shown with automatic reverse and semi auto tap lube options.

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    ARB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitty38382 View Post
    Hey ARB

    Can you form tap with it or are you limited to traditional taps and "cutting" threads? If you don't know maybe someone does.
    Sure do. Most of the time as a matter of fact.

    Actually we have a mix of arms here. 2 are Walden (old) and 2 are Flexarm. Mine is a Canadian made unit I got on Ebum.

    One of the flexarms has auto lube and reverse as well as 1000RPM. You can tap some holes fast but only up to 5/16 in aluminum at that speed.

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    Milacron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ARB View Post
    Sure do. Most of the time as a matter of fact.

    Actually we have a mix of arms here. 2 are Walden (old) and 2 are Flexarm. Mine is a Canadian made unit I got on Ebum.
    I was thinking Walden was the original distributor for SL Maskin arms, which were made in Sweden, not Canada. Flexarms are made in Ohio, USA.

    Mine was called Squaretap and the other competitor was Quick Boy....made in Germany. I never figured out how Quick Boy actually sold any as they did absolutely no advertising except for a booth at IMTS every 2 years. They had no reps and no wholesale distribution either. Flexarm had the most simplistic models but a bit pricey regardless... and yet they outsold everyone due to consistant advertising, having booths at all trade shows, and their "30 day trial" plus good support.

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    ARB's Avatar
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    The Walden arms that we have date back to 1986/1987.
    The new "Canadian" unit that I have is only a couple years old and is made entirely different than the Walden units. I am not sure where it was made. There are no markings on it. It came from an Ebay outfit north of the border. I was a little pissed when I got it and the FRL on it was a made in china unit that leaked air when new.
    But other than that it is a nice arm.

    One interesting thing on this one is that the motor runs in reverse and you push "The Button" to make it go forward. That took some getting used to but is kind of nice actually.


    Milacron, what range of arms did you make?

    Did you make any with electric power?

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    Metalcutter's Avatar
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    Hand tapping instead of machine tapping has it's advantages. However a machine won't forget a hole.

    Something to factor into the equasion.

    Thought I should bring that up.

    Regards,

    Stan-

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    Here is an application where another tool change to tap would be a slower.
    So we mounted the air tapper to the mill table and rolled with it.
    This was only temporarily on this machine. Normally we rigid tap these parts in one of the machining centers.

    But you can see the arm. Maybe someone can recognize it.

    Not a real great picture.



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    Milacron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ARB View Post
    Milacron, what range of arms did you make?

    Did you make any with electric power?
    3 models..32, 62 and 80 inch reach (A32 in previous picture, A80 in below brochure scan) A32 and A62 available with 400, 600 or 1,000 RPM motors. A80 with 2 speed motors...can't remember the RPM's of those...

    No, never had an electric but always thought that would be the Holy Grail if one could be made that was light enough with enough torque. Perhaps Roscomat has finally done it...but the jury is out on how long they last. Tough to beat the torque to weight ratio of a geared pneumatic motor...but they can be problematic sometimes...esp if you don't have water free and well lubricated air.



    Re electric...I said we didn't but we sort of did...but it was basically just a type of radial drill...too expensive to sell many though.


  15. #15
    Joe788 is online now Titanium
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    Frank, I think you need to take a long hard look at what your time is worth. You already have an extremely dependable, quick, repeatable, and always on call employee that works for $8.75/hr. (Your $1400/mo machine payment divided by 160 hrs a month = $8.75/hr). You should be rigid tapping anything under 3/8-16 at 2000rpm. That should only add up to a tiny fraction of your total cycle time.

    If you're worried about breaking roll taps in 6061, you need a new coolant vendor. I can use three fingers to count how many form taps I've broken in the last 5 years, and two of those were because of a broken drill. Conversely, the number of holes I've rigid tapped in 6061 with form taps in that same time probably wouldn't fit on a license plate.

    Your money and effort would likely be much better spent building a quick change pallet system to minimize your part changing times on those big plates. Removing and replacing socket head cap screws while the spindle sits idle realllllly eats up a lot of time.

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    Hey ARB is that you in the picture?

    Don you impress the hell out of me, you a smart feller. Don't let it get to ya, just enjoy the moment. Seriously cool.

    Joe788 - your quick, your post just popped up. My machine payment isn't that high. I use air wrenches to load and unload plate work. Had Carpal tunnel years ago and learned not to torture wrist.

    Frank S. in Tennessee

  17. #17
    GM's Avatar
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    I second everything Joe788 said!

    Gary M.

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    Joe788 is online now Titanium
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitty38382 View Post
    Hey ARB is that you in the picture?

    Don you impress the hell out of me, you a smart feller. Don't let it get to ya, just enjoy the moment. Seriously cool.

    Joe788 - your quick, your post just popped up. My machine payment isn't that high. I use air wrenches to load and unload plate work. Had Carpal tunnel years ago and learned not to torture wrist.

    Frank S. in Tennessee
    I just guessed at a $70,000 machine purchase price with 0$ down payment. The key is that the smart, accurate, fast, mistake free machine is quite a bit less expensive than a minimum wage employee.

    We use Ryobi 18V drill motors for fastener removal/replacement, but even that takes plenty of time. How much time do you spend on all those fasteners, vs. the time the machine spends tapping your holes? In this day and age, you want the machine to do as much as possible. Every time you have to touch that part, you're adding cost. Would you work for minimum wage? That Litz will work for minimum wage all day every day, and it will work for free at night! Hell, I've got $300,000 machines with Lang chip fans just so that the operator doesn't have to blow the parts off before he puts them in the box! Let the machines work for you!

  19. #19
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    Well we are getting ready to load up the tap work tonight. Just have to machine the jig. I'm going to use those DexLoc Pins to hold the parts and maybe a simple clamp.

    We are still going through the evolution of methods on our own machines to get the rhythm down pat. I still need a better fixturing solution, just not sure which direction to run in. That Lang chip fan looks pretty cool. I could use another machine so I'm not always having to breakdown setups.

    Frank S. in Tennessee

    Yep, still working

  20. #20
    Perry Harrington is offline Titanium
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    Frank, get some De-Sta-Co toggle clamps and use those for any quick change work you can. Also, put a sub plate on your table and make the fixtures so you can use a couple dowels and cap screws to swap your fixture plates faster.

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