Surface Finish Experts
Extrude Hone LLC is on a mission to improve the edges, conditions and surface finishes of machined parts. Based in Irwin, Pennsylvania, Extrude has a global reach and a reputation for high-quality work. The firm is proud of its aftermarket support and is keeping a close eye on opportunities in the 3D printing/additive manufacturing sector.
“We [do] everything related to surface enhancement… We are the only company offering capital equipment and contract services, all supported by [our aftermarket group],” states Extrude Hone Marketing Director, Global, Bruno Boutantin.
Indeed, Extrude offers clients a range of options. The firm designs and manufacturers surface finishing equipment but also provides its own surface finishing services. Such services are performed at a network of contract shops, says Boutantin.
Covering both ends of the market offers several advantages. Boutantin offers the following scenario: a client might hire Extrude to do finishing work on some machined parts. Should the client’s part volume increase, they might decide to start doing their own finishing in-house, at which point Extrude can provide them with the necessary equipment. Companies that already have their own equipment, meanwhile, can utilize Extrude’s contract shops to handle overflow work.
Surface finish specialties at Extrude Hone include deburring (the removal of burrs at intersected holes or bore holes), polishing, radiusing (“generating continuous, true-edge radii or round-edge radii,” explains Extrude Hone literature), deflashing (the removal of die cast mold flashing), decontamination (the removal of hidden particles), flow tuning (the creation of “a defined flow resistance through an orifice” states Extrude Hone) and surface stress relief (removing stress risers and smoothing out critical fatigue points).
To perform such tasks, Extrude Hone relies on an array of processes including Abrasive Flow Machining (AFM), AFM Microflow, Electrochemical Machining (ECM), Dynamic Electrochemical Machining (ECM Dynamic), Precise Electrochemical Machining (PECM) and Thermal Deburring (TEM).
AFM utilizes non-corrosive, chemically inactive media to enhance part surface finish and edge conditions. AFM MICROFLOW is an abrasive flow process used when precise results are required in conditions involving tight tolerances. ECM uses anodic metal dissolution for workpiece surface finishing purposes. ECM Dynamic is a modified version of the same process. PECM is based on the same concept behind electrochemical machining, but offers greater precision. DEM removes burrs and hidden contaminants from machined parts via an oxidation reaction.
Extrude Hone recently introduced a new technology called COOLPULSE. It’s a surface finishing solution similar to electrochemical machining, but for parts produced through a 3D printing (aka, additive manufacturing) process. “COOLPULSE is a slightly different animal compared to ECM, but it’s based on the same principle,” explains Boutantin.
He explains that Extrude sees the 3D printed parts market as a rapidly growing sector that offers huge opportunities. “Our plan is to develop our own capabilities in terms of building 3D printed parts. But we don’t want to build everything. We want to be extremely focused. We want to have vertical integration. We want to do… parts that require unique Extrude Hone finishing processes… We’re continually looking to increase our capabilities,” notes Boutantin.
As mentioned, Extrude Hone can provide appropriate equipment for clients who prefer to do their own surface finishing work. “We have a global team of engineers. Everything in this company is global. We have engineers from India, Europe, Japan and America that team up on some projects. We design our own equipment then we manufacture our own equipment… It’s not only machines. [We also provide] features that go with the machines. It’s critical to design good tooling,” explains Boutantin.
The company website offers data sheets and details about the kind of equipment available from Extrude Hone. In the electrochemical machining category, Extrude Hone offers the ECLINE series, a machine designed for maximum efficiency in high-volume production environments. The ECM ECLINE is 1900 x 2100 x 2550 mm (width x depth x height) in size, and has a stainless steel design, a user-friendly touch panel and offers fast set-up and tool change.
The T350, meanwhile, is a thermal deburring machine that has a modular enclosure, a water-cooled deburring chamber, a hydraulically operated gas-charging system and a user-friendly Human Machine Interface (HMI) with a touchscreen.
As for its global reach, Extrude Hone has branches around the world. “We are in North America, South America, in Europe, we are in India, we are in China, we in Japan. We are everywhere,” states Boutantin. At present, the company’s client-base is “pretty well-balanced” between the continents of Europe, Asia and North America, he adds.
In addition to its contract shops and capital equipment, Extrude Hone offers engineering services to clients. This can entail working with clients on tooling, prototyping or process analysis (that is, helping clients set up new machining processes for component finishing and/or shaping or enhancing existing processes).
Extrude Hone’s comprehensive aftermarket group, meanwhile, offers customers everything from maintenance to repair services. The firm’s technicians can inspect, repair and if necessary, rebuild or replace parts in its machines. Aftermarket support also includes training programs, which are customizable depending on the client’s needs and the machinery or processes they are using, and control upgrades. The latter involves upgrading Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and HMI systems for clients.
Markets served by Extrude Hone include automotive, aerospace, energy, medical and manufacturing. “At one point, we were nearly 80 percent automotive. I would say now it’s down to 50 percent,” says Boutantin.
Extrude Hone was founded in the 1960s by Lawrence Rhoades. Rhoades forged a highly successful business, which was eventually sold to tooling company Kennametal of Latrobe, PA in 2005. A decade later, Kennametal sold the firm to Madison Industries, a corporation that offers medical equipment, industrial and filtration solutions. “At the time, Kennametal was doing a kind of restructuring and focusing on their core,” explains Boutantin.
Having Madison Industries as a parent company is ideal, he continues. Boutantin describes Madison as a firm that “invests for the long-term and supports the business. They have a good understanding of what we do and they give us a lot of room to develop. From that perspective, things have worked out pretty well.”
At present, Extrude has “about 385 employees around the world,” he states.
Given that technology underscores everything Extrude Hone does, the firm places a great deal of emphasis on hiring top-of-the-line engineers. Regardless of whether an employee works in engineering or marketing, “there’s a passion about Extrude Hone… for us, it’s about solving problems. We go the extra mile to solve finishing problems with our customers,” notes Boutantin.
“It’s definitely a fantastic company to work with. You have the pleasure of dealing with people from all markets, from Formula One to aerospace, automotive and medicine. Every day you deal with different topics and with different types of customers in different markets from all around the world. For people thinking about working for us, it’s a nice place to be,” he continues.
Extrude Hone has earned multiple industry certifications, including AS9100C, ISO 9001:2008 and Nadcap (National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program) certification.
“Being a supplier for automotive and aerospace, as you can imagine, we cannot do parts for aerospace without having the highest quality, in terms of inspection and quality process. Same for automotive,” says Boutantin.
Needless to say, in aerospace and automotive, all parts and components need to work perfectly. With this in mind, Extrude Hone emphasizes training, new equipment, comprehensive quality assurance and the best machining and management processes – for all sectors served.
In terms of promotion, the company regularly attends trade shows. “We do about 20 events in a year. We will be at IMTS 2018,” says Boutantin. In addition to the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) taking place in Chicago in September, Extrude will be attending the Farnborough International Airshow in the United Kingdom and 3DPrint Lyon Eurexpo in France, among events this year.
The firm has also worked hard to improve its online offerings, revamping its website, for example, and developing a blog. Extrude’s website and blog contain customer testimonials, product information, case studies and white papers. The firm also has a presence on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
As for the future, Extrude Hone wants to expand its 3D printing work. Extrude Hone is carefully watching the transition in the automotive sector from traditional fuel-injected engines to hybrid and electric vehicles.
Boutantin maintains an optimistic outlook for the next five years of the company, particularly given Extrude’s budding expertise in 3D printed parts.
“In this changing world, I think we really have an edge. We have seen trends coming up in the last three to four years, such as having a higher volume of components that require very demanding finishing. I think we have a role to play there… Wherever you go, when you talk to companies, everybody will tell you, their big bottleneck is finishing… [We’re going to be] sticking to finishing but with a slightly different orientation in terms of what parts we touch and in which markets we serve,” he states.