By Jim Lorincz
Real competitiveness in traditional material removal processes begins where a tool is held to meet a fixtured workpiece. One or the other or both are moving, turning, indexing, or profiling, often simultaneously. Making the right selection of tooling and workholding including cutting tool, substrate, coating, geometry, as well as toolholder, toolchanger and ancillary coolant delivery and chip removal systems for the material application is critical to optimizing process performance. What about the workpiece? What’s the best way to hold the part, load and unload it, machine it in the fewest number of setups (one setup is the best) while minimizing downtime, maximizing uptime, and producing a quality result?
These are the kinds of questions that visitors to IMTS 2012 will seek answers to and solutions they will find, by the thousands, in the Tooling and Workholding Pavilion.
"The trends that I see are that our customers want to be more competitive, even with their sister manufacturing plants overseas," says Kurt Nordlund, president, Seco Tools Inc. (Troy, MI). "Today, manufacturers have a much more technical focus on process and on the importance of the total cost approach to becoming and remaining globally competitive. All industries like automotive are being very aggressive in developing their processes to handle the latest materials."
Nordlund cites the challenge of the newest difficult-to-machine materials. "We have made dramatic breakthroughs in developing coating technology, especially for demanding applications like titanium and Inconel in the aerospace, power generation, and energy industries. CVD coatings are able to optimize machining conditions for these applications and other difficult-to-machine materials," says Nordlund.
Building On Tooling Platforms
"We have close to 30,000 products developed around tooling platforms that enable us to innovate across the board with base substrates, base coatings, and the basic knowledge of geometries that enable us to produce milling cutters, round tools, and face mills with precision in industry-scale volumes and uniformity. Our new generation of replaceable-tip round tools for milling, drilling, and reaming, for example, will deliver runout absolutely as good as a solid-carbide tool in the intermediate range of diameters and for long-reach applications where solid carbide isn’t cost competitive," Nordlund concludes.
In the cutting tool industry, it’s important to develop the level of technology that’s required to meet the needs of today’s sophisticated manufacturers, according to Peter Matysiak, president, Emuge Corp. (West Boylston, MA). "We continue to invest extensively in R&D to stay on the leading-edge with the types of new machines and materials that are being used in manufacturing today. In a crowded field, one of the biggest challenges that we face is how to efficiently convey and transfer the application knowledge and technical product expertise we possess to our customers. We have to take advantage of all means of communication available today including the internet, Web sites, demonstration videos and, of course, IMTS and make this knowledge and technical information available to discerning engineers so they can easily incorporate it into their manufacturing needs," Matysiak says. "Our Technology Center is also valuable for interfacing with our customers and their needs. All this technical support is especially important because our customers are manufacturing with fewer people than ever before and they rely on the latest tooling technology and information to be readily available," Matysiak says.
"We manufacture and offer taps, form taps, thread mills, end mills and more, as well as the required toolholders and can recommend the tooling solution that is best-suited for the application. Taps are effective for most common materials and have a longer reach that some workpieces may require. We also have thread mill products with inserts and toolholders—in essence we have a complete line of threadmaking tools to meet virtually any application.
At IMTS 2012, Emuge will introduce a host of products including new taps, thread mills, end mills and toolholders. Among the new tools is their new Rekord DZBF series taps featuring an Emuge-designed chipbreaking technology to eliminate the formation of long continuous chips that commonly occur when tapping carbon steel, alloy steel, and austenitic stainless steel. "It’s a little more complicated when you uniquely design a chipbreaking function into a tap, but we’ve done it. Although this product is effective for many applications, it is primarily aimed at problems manufacturers in the energy industry have in machining valves and other parts for the oil, power generation and wind turbine industry," says Matysiak.\
User Friendly Solutions for the Shop Floor
"We offer products on many different fronts, especially for addressing the need for user-friendly products on the shop floor," explains Jack Burley vice president/sales and engineering, BIG Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc. (Hoffman Estates, IL). One such product to be shown at IMTS 2012 is the Kaiser 310 EWD precision-finish digital boring head, which addresses the need for adjustments to boring tools in holemaking. "The digital readout of the 310 EWD simplifies operator intervention by providing a digital readout. All the operator has to do is make sure that the adjustment displayed on the boring head is the same deviation displayed on the bore gage," Burley explains. "The digital boring system covers holemaking from very small to very large from 30 taper machines for precision bores in auto parts to large titanium workpieces for the aircraft industry."
For deep-hole finish boring, BIG Daishowa’s Smart Damper is designed to eliminate vibration and reduce chatter for higher productivity in deep-hole finish boring and extended reach face milling. For high-speed machining operations, BIG Kaiser will introduce a precise face mill with axial adjustments within the cutter body for using CBN or PCD inserts for milling cast iron or aluminum with a glass-like finish. "This cutter gives our customers very smooth surface finishes without sacrificing feed rate. It’s a new area for us and we’ll branch out into face mills as well. Also from BIG Daishowa, our new R-Cutter produces a pleasing convex edge radius, reduces cutting resistance, and minimizes burr generation," says Burley.
According to Andy Weber, president, Rego-Fix Tool Corp. (Indianapolis, IN), the HSK 40 E taper connection, which is designed for high-speed and high-performance machining, is becoming more common, especially on smaller machines. "HSK really shines in the HSK 25, 32, and 40 sizes, typically where there aren’t suitable alternatives," says Weber. "Higher performance machining results from a complete manufacturing process, including workholding, toolholding, and the tool itself. You can’t just buy a high-speed machine and keep everything else the same. That won’t work." Rego-Fix will introduce its powRgrip system, which covers sizes from 0.2 to 25.4-mm diameter. "We have two systems, our legacy ER system and the powRgrip system for micromilling. With the PG 6, we can really go down small, down to 0.2 mm in the micromilling area," Weber concludes.
The Trend...More Stations...More Tools
According to Walt Bachmann, Exsys Tool Inc. (San Antonio, FL), his company is called upon often to design new tooling connections to fit the multifunction capabilities of milling machines and lathes that increasingly resemble one another in capability. Bachmann explains: "Constant innovations from single spindle and one turret to main and subspindle with multiple turrets have clouded the difference between a lathe and a milling machine. Older CNC lathes used only the main spindle requiring a second operation for the unmachined other end. Today, the subspindle picks up the part from the main spindle where it can be machined complete in one operation. On newer equipment both main and subspindles have C-axis control, programmable to a fraction of a degree for machining hole patterns or contouring. But this required many tools and, therefore, the turrets had to accommodate several toolstations, or the machine needed more turrets, so the front end of the part could be machined with one turret, while the other end was machined by the second turret.
"Today, we still have single turret machines with slots for fixed turning tools, but the trend has been to new turrets which accommodate many live tools, which use rotating drills, end mills, and taps, similar to the older two-axis milling machine. New turret designs incorporate up to 24 or more different toolstations, where all of the toolstations accept live tooling. Multiple tools attached to one station increase capabilities of single turret machines, as seen here. Many machines incorporate several turrets which can be used simultaneously for both main and subspindle work. Tool carousels are incorporated to accept up to 80 tools, reducing tool-change time and setups," Bachmann concludes.
At IMTS 2012, there will be tooling solutions for just about any of the machine combinations that you are likely to encounter. ME
This article was first published in the August 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.