Even the simplest seeming orders can sometimes turn into a crisis without the right equipment. One such example occurred in May 2016 shortly after we had purchased a new piece of equipment called a Flashcutter. A Flashcutter is, essentially, an Exacto knife on steroids and allows for dieless cutting of non-metallic materials.

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We put the Flashcutter to use on a seemingly simple order. The story of this order soon became full of twists and turns that would have cost our customer, and ourselves, an extraordinary amount of time and money if not for the capabilities of the newly Flashcutter.

The Flashcutter

Before we get into the details, let’s give a little background on the Flashcutter. It is a computer-controlled machine that can take any computer-aided design (CAD) 2D drawing and replicate the shape in any non-metallic material (rubber, plastic, foam, sponge, cork, compressed non-asbestos for example). The cutting is done with a high-speed oscillating knife on a 5′ x 10′ table. The Flashcutter allows us to produce parts for our customers without expensive steel rule dies, making it ideal for smaller quantity runs or even one off pieces.

On these small-run orders, traditional tooling can often cost more than the entire order. In addition, the Flashcutter nesting capabilities allow us to produce parts with less scrap, reducing our overall costs which can be passed along to our customers.

CNC Flashcutter with computer programs

Flashcutting reduces costs and produces less scraps.

The Order

The first job we ran on the very first day we had the Flashcutter was a total of four pieces: two rings and two custom-shaped rings for a local customer. These parts were large rings, approximately 32″ in diameter, with very thin walls. The combination of large size with thin cross section makes these a challenge to produce, especially as one-offs.

In the time before we received our Flashcutter, our tool and die department would have had to cut these by hand based on the configuration and quantity. If we went the “build-a-tool” route, the dies would far outweigh the cost of the gaskets themselves. Our production time would have taken 1 hour to complete each part. This would result in tool and die department being tied up for half the day.

Utilizing the Flashcutter, we were able to draw the 2 rings and 2 complex shapes in CAD in 20 minutes and 6 minutes after that we had the 4 parts cut and ready to ship.Due to the customer’s requirements, we hand delivered the hot parts to our customer’s facility that same afternoon.

Redoing the Order

As it turned out, our work was not done. The customer called at 9:00 a.m. the next morning. They had sent the wrong drawing for the custom gasket and needed to replace these two immediately. The customer sent the updated drawing and sent a driver at the same time. The parts were programmed and cut before the driver arrived at 9:45 a.m.

Another satisfied customer and two hours of shop production time saved. Success! Or so we thought.

Redoing the Order… Again

But, you guessed it, at 1:00 pm the customer called again. They once again had sent invalid drawings and needed the corrected parts as soon as possible. New drawings were sent, again, and a driver dispatched, again.

Thanks to the speed and efficiency of the Flashcutter, Breiner had the third set of gaskets completed within minutes. After all that, the customer was still able to ship by the end of the day as required.

The Results

The quick turnaround and high accuracy of our new equipment bailed out not only our customer but us as well. We were able to turn the parts much quicker and saved a full 8 hours of our production time over the two-day stretch.

Our philosophy is to give the customer exactly what they want, when they want it. In some cases, that requires same day service, sometimes even “while-you-wait” service. The Flashcutter has allowed us to complete much more complex and previously time-consuming jobs that meet our customer’s needs. It allows us to work with new projects, perform research and development, and create prototypes with the ability to easily make adjustments as the parts develop without the expense of new tooling each time.

There are still plenty of jobs that run on steel-rule dies in our presses, but the Flashcutter has opened up a whole new avenue for us to be even more customer focused.

If you need a custom part that requires high skill and accuracy to produce, let Breiner be your solution. Our vast experience in a variety of industries gives us the knowledge to take on any project – even if you need us to run it a few times.

Common types of gasket materials. This helpful infographic takes a look at the most common types of gasket materials. Download your infographic here.