Versatile, Conversational Machines the Hallmark of Michigan Shop

Hallmark Tool & Gage, a family-owned and operated business in Wixom, Michigan, claims to have more Hurco 2-meter and 3-meter DCX double column machining centers under one roof than any other company in the country. Hallmark invested in these 2-meter and 3-meter machining centers to expand the services they provide to their customers. Here's how.

"When we research the need for new equipment, we are always seeking to expand our capabilities in size, technology, quality, and efficiency," said George Richards, president of Hallmark Tool & Gage.

Hallmark Tool & Gage Co. services many customers in a variety of fields from the military, automotive, aircraft, and industrial machine tool builders throughout the United States.



Hallmark provides complete turn-key operations from raw material to final machining and assembly at their 34,000 square-foot facility. However, the company also provides a la carte services. Richards said his business philosophy is straightforward.

"At Hallmark, our goal is to provide our customers with a complete turn-key operation from raw material to final machining for any size project. We want to be a partner with our customers and consistently provide them with the quality and service they require at a competitive price. But we also offer smaller services too; if you're looking for only fabricating, just machining, or simply an EDM service, you'll find it here at Hallmark."

Hallmark Tool & Gage was founded in 1980 as primarily a small gage and fixture manufacturer with 6 employees. The company is coming up on its 45thr anniversary next year.



Founded in 1980, Hallmark Tool & Gage had six employees and was primarily a gage and fixture manufacturer when Richards purchased the company in 1990. His son, Scott Richards, started as a trainee at Hallmark in 1992 and worked his way through the company to his current position as vice president.

Today, the company has dozens of employees and has expanded into all phases of the manufacturing industry from fabricating to CNC machining, an EDM service company and a complete turn-key application.

The majority of Hallmark's projects in the past were revolved around the automotive industry, but the father and son team spent the last five years diversifying their customer base to include defense, food packaging, and a variety of commercial and industrial projects.

"We do a lot of plate work and machine bases," said George. "The machines we build are in operation all over the world."

Hallmark chose Hurco machines partly because of their ease-of-use.



A surface grinder by trade who has been in the industry since 1966, George said he was first introduced to Hurco in 1996.

"We had never looked at CNC equipment, and we were looking for a company that could supply us with a machine we could train our employees to operate for a specific part we needed to machine. We also wanted a machine that was versatile enough to handle other machining needs as required," explains George.

Ultimately, George and Scott chose Hurco because of its integrated control that includes conversational programming, which was invented by Hurco co-founder Gerald Roch.

"After looking at several different machines, Hurco was the answer. The control's operating system is easy to use, and it made it easy to train employees who had never programmed a CNC machine before. Hurco and Braun Machinery (the Hurco distributor in Michigan at that time) gave us the support necessary to get us going and continued that support at every request. When we got our first Hurco, Scott was programming at the control and making parts within six hours. I was sold. We've been buying Hurcos ever since," said George.

This VMX50 mill is one of the many Hurco machines being used at Hallmark.



Hallmark currently owns 12 Hurcos: their first Hurco, a 4-axis BMC40/50, now two VMX84 mills, one VMX50 mill, a VMX42 mill, a BMC40/20, a VM20, two VM1 mills, a TM10 slant-bed lathe, and three of the large double column DCX mills -- two 2-meter DCX22 mills and one 3-meter DCX32 mill. As for their investment in three DCX double column machining centers, Scott said: "We went with the DCX obviously because of the size of the envelope (83 x 126), but ultimately it's the control."

When asked for specifics, George and Scott identify Hurco's patented UltiMotion feature and NC/Conversational Merge as two examples of technology that they believe put Hurco above the rest.

"The new UltiMotion is incredible," Scott said. "It eliminates all that lost motion you used to see. And NC/Conversational Merge is huge. The ability to go from one to another and use the best of both programming methods is a real benefit."

VIDEO: Hurco UltiMotion

Regarding Hallmark's purchase of the three DCX double column mills, George Richards added:

"The extra Y-axis is just phenomenal on the DCX machines. Whenever we look at buying a new machine, we ask ourselves, 'Should we spend a little more to expand our capabilities in addition to expanding our capacity?'"

While the Hurco machine tools are known for their control technologies, George said their rigidity and reliability shouldn't be underestimated.

"The machine itself is of the highest quality and has the rigidity, accuracy and repeatability we need for the job at hand, whether we’re machining aluminum, stainless, mild steel or pre-heated materials."

As for specific control features that make his job more efficient, a CNC programmer/operator at Hallmark, said the Tool & Material Library, DXF Transfer, Concurrent Programming, and AutoCalc are among them.

While running one job, an operator can program the next one right at the control without interrupting the cycle.



With the Tool & Material Library, he sets up the tool parameters by part material in the control, along with feeds and speeds, and then he just selects them when he is setting up the part.

"You enter the information once, and you're finished," explained the operator.

With DXF Transfer, data entry mistakes are eliminated because the tool paths are created from the geometry of the CAD-generated file. The Hurco DXF Transfer has some extra features that are time savers: multiple part planes can be linked into a single program, you can automatically chain contours, and a group of hole operations can be selected based on the hole diameter.

AutoCalc and Concurrent Programming are other features that save time and maximize productivity.

While running one job, an operator can program the next one right at the control without interrupting the cycle.

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Hallmark Tool

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