I just had an encounter with a very good customer of ours. This person related a heartbreaking story to me about a job they were just finishing up.
I will try to give you the flavor of the conversation without revealing the identity of the person or company.

The primary focus of this discussion is tool holders.
Everybody has their opinions on which system, company or Model of holder are "The Best"

I think we will always have these emotional opinions. Sometimes the opinion is that it doesn't matter just get the most affordable and move on
Sometimes though, holding onto a bad opinion can be devastating.

I have been working with a partner company called Rego-Fix for many years now, and I tend to only use their holders, for the machining that I do.
In particular, I seriously prefer their PowRgrip system. These are not the least expensive holders available, which is, I guess, a nice way of saying that they are generally considered to be expensive. Through a 30+ year career in machining, I have used most of the tool holders available on the market. My experience has led me to be a confirmed believer in Rego-Fix. Now, to be fair, that is my emotional opinion. So far it has never failed me, nor any of the associates I have convinced to use Rego-Fix.
This story is a perfect demonstration of the need to consider far more than just the cost of the item. It really is, the Performance that counts.

In my early training with this customer, I made my recommendations regarding tool holders, along with some other partner products. The response to my recommendation to use the PowRgrip system was "Yes, the PowRgrip system really looks great, but it is out of our budget. There is no way my boss will let me buy them" Then today I get a call from this person after working intensely with them over the last couple weeks to get this job programmed and on the machine. The person worked very hard, focusing on the quality of their tool paths. They had to learn some tool path modules that they had never used before, and were very proud that they were able to generate top quality machine motion. They spent extra time and effort simulating the processes, both internal and with Machine simulation, and carefully walked each tool path into place at the machine, cross checking every entry and exit move just to ensure that they did not damage the part.

This part is big, complex and very involved. It is a material that is not exotic, but is some of the most expensive in its class.
Today they were completing the job and doing the final inspections. The dimensional accuracy was amazing. The surface finishes were stunning. and then came the crushing realization that a roughing operation had gone horribly wrong and had not been noticed until now. The tool used in that operation had been used on several parts previously and had done its job flawlessly, it was still in great condition. The tool length offsets were checked, double checked and written down.
Their hearts sank when they realized that the tool had pulled out of the holder, under the load of the operation, and the increased tool length scrapped the part.
It had not pulled out before, in the other parts, but being a holder of inferior quality and functionality, it had failed them when it counted the most. I will not mention the brand, but just know that it is one of many brands that I consider to be bargain basement products. The price is enticing compared to the top shelf products.

So now they come to the quandary, was the few dollars that they saved, buying the inferior product, worth the financial loss and anguish that they are suffering through now. The cost of this one part would have paid for most of the PowRgrip Press and the holders themselves are only a few percentage points more expensive than other "Good" holders in the market. A loss that could have easily been avoided, but the challenge, many times, is convincing the bean counters of the validity of the argument.

It reminds me of the old "Gates Fan Belt" commercials from my childhood. The old man standing there in the automotive repair shop with the engine of the car disassembled and a broken fan belt in one hand and a piston, with a hole in it, in the other.
He looks into the camera and says. "You can pay me now, or you can pay me more later, Gates... Quality worth paying for"

I hope this is thought provoking.
Please share your stories.

Ken Merritt
SolidCAM Inc