We LOVE our KMG, and the only problem I have in writing this is that I don't know where to begin because the KMG has advanced nearly every production process at Gramercy Tools - from finishing to shaping - it's the most important tool in the shop. It gets used more often, and for more operations than the multi-tool I carry in my pocket.
We have a single KMG in our shop which is used about 50/50 for shaping operations/surface finishing. We produce small batches of high end hand wood working tools, typically around 50 pieces at a go. Keeping set up time between operations, or abrasive grits to a minimum helps us keep our costs down. Also, the KMG is easy to fixture to, and our custom fixtures have allow us to add details and features that previously required a mill or lathe.
For surface finishing, it's nice to have the range of options the KMG offers - platten, slack belt, work rest, contact wheel, small radius contact wheel. Properly fitting the abrasive to the tool being produced allows us use a more aggressive belt to remove scale, machine marks, or scratches, before the switch to finer grits to get the part ready for final finishing. This quickly gives us the crisp edges we're looking for, as opposed to the "soft" look imparted by coarse grit compound and a buffing wheel. Our KMG has replaced a lot of the operations we used to do on our buffer, because we can more accurately control the shape of the finished piece, and deliver a more consistent product at a lower scrap rate. The guys on the shop floor appreciate how easy it is to switch between belts, and switch out tooling arms when compared to dressing, charging, and balancing buffs and abrasives wheels on the buffer.
Many of the operations we do in our shop add a cosmetic detail to a part such as a radius, or a chamfer along a curve. Before we bought our KMG we typically thought of these as machine operations, either CNC or fixtured on a manual machine. Increasingly we have found it to be easier, and faster ( read: CHEAPER) to use custom shop made fixtures on the KMG to add these details. Part of the reason for this is how easy it is to design fixtures for the KMG, and how quickly they can be mounted and removed. At first we figured we would just buy a new tooling arm for each operation, but honestly, its so quick to slide custom work rests on and off ( we replaced the bolts with adjustable handles ) or bolt a fixture into the platten attachment that we haven't found the need. The bombproof construction of the machine keeps tolerances tight and repeatable, so we don't have to adjust our set up half way through a batch.
The KMG allows us flexibility and creativity in our production processes and has changed the way we produce our tools to the benefit of our customers, our shop employees and our bottom line.
- Ben Seltzer
Production Manager Gramercy Tools
Tools for Working Wood