Leitz Australia – Made in Australia for Success
WITH nine out of ten CNC machines sold in Australia being nesting machines, one of the most-used cutting tools in Australia is the small diameter router cutter.
Manufacturers utilising panel products, solid wood and advanced materials for production of goods where manufactured boards are the main raw material (kitchens, office furniture etc), are always looking to increase production while reducing unit costs. A small diameter cutter is required to reduce the amount of waste in a nested board, but this can reduce production speed. The tool also needs to eliminate any breakout on both surfaces of the material, resulting in the call for a very unique and complex tool.
Enter the compression cutter that has completely revolutionised the small scale, high turnover nested manufacturing cabinet industry in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom – the Carbide Compression Router Cutter. It’s fair to say that the small diameter router bit is one of the hardest working tools used by the industry.
Compression cutters for nesting historically have been imported from the United States, Europe and now SE Asia, but a few years ago, Leitz Australia considered the possibility of manufacturing them here. Andrew Bismire, Product Manager of Leitz Australia, states; “We said at the time we’d love to be able to make these cutters ourselves. It’s something we can do that’s purely Australian and would add unique benefits to both Leitz and our local manufacturers.”
Following the belief that a CNC Machine is only as good as the tools being used, the Compression Router Cutter range developed by Leitz Australia is produced to exact high precision standards required by their German parent company. With over 145 years’ experience producing cutting tools for the woodworking industry, Leitz is one of the top producers of quality, premium tools in the world. This rich Leitz history has ensured that Leitz Australia has the technical knowledge and skill to manufacture these highly engineered and complex tools.
There were some compelling economic reasons to manufacture in Australia; largely being the ability to provide speed of supply to the local market. Leitz also believes there are significant benefits to local manufacturers. An example of this is the partnership that resulted with ANCA (Australian Numerical Controls and Automation) – a market leader in quality CNC grinding machines, and an Australian local success story.
Leitz already had several pieces of high-end grinding equipment for automatic sharpening of cutting tools, but only one machine for producing router bits. To meet the expected product demand, a higher output machine was required, as well as one that could produce at a standard that would satisfy Leitz’ exacting tolerances. Leitz installed one Australian made ANCA FX7 Linear 5-axis tool grinder equipped with a robot inside the cabinet for changing router cutters and grinding wheels. This was soon followed by a second ANCA FX7 machine. These machines can run unattended, with a capacity of several hundred router bits at a time, and are equipped with a refrigerated coolant system to ensure that heat does not affect the fine tolerances the machine works to. The ANCA FX7s are fully programmable– ensuring consistent high-quality standards of every router bit produced. The ANCA machine puts Leitz at the forefront of router manufacturing in Australia.
Striving for the utmost quality in everything they do, Leitz Australia only uses the best quality carbide rod for their router bits. Carbide can be made from soft to hard, so the right grade is required to get the most life from the tools, while not being too brittle and breaking under load. Both characteristics are important in a quality tool and the reputation of Leitz and their customer’s production depends on it.
Leitz Australia takes pride in that due to this this local production, these compression bits can be customised to suit individual manufacturer’s needs and a large range of machines. Andrew says “We chase microns to get the desired result for our customers. Provided the customer has a machine where the collet is in good condition and holds the bit over its entire clamping length, we can achieve up to 40% more tool life from the cutters we make here in Australia.” This has been verified by a manufacturer capable of recording actual lineal metres, in trials conducted in conjunction with Leitz Australia.
Leitz Australia’s achievement of producing these tools themselves has increased local production levels and reduced delivery times for customers while maintaining the highest quality. It also increases tool production skills within Australia, an opportunity for apprenticeship programs and a long-term benefit to the industry. The compression router bits carry the Australian Made logo and have proven to be hugely popular with manufacturers keen on supporting local productions.
Leitz stand by their motto ‘Solutions in New Dimensions’ and in Australia, they are forging new dimensions with Australian Made tool solutions.