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Searching Toolboxes for the Right Solution


Tooling and process data found in the cloud can help, too

By Jim Lorincz
Senior Editor

Suppliers of advanced tooling and workholding solutions are an innovative lot who like doing nothing better than trying to one-up the competition on behalf of their customers. That involves paying careful attention to where the opportunities for advanced technologies lie and how to expand their offerings of products and services. It involves investing considerable resources of people, time, and, yes, money to develop, produce, and market products that offer better process performance, better quality parts, and improved productivity. Digital tooling solutions for advanced manufacturing proceses are increasingly being found in the cloud. 

NOVO powers shop systems that depend on accurate, timely knowledge and connects via the cloud to tool management, e-commerce, and other shop systems.

The Cloud that Clears Things Up

Since the launch in 2013 of the NOVO advanced digital tool selector and process planning application, Kennametal Inc. (Latrobe, PA) has extended NOVO’s scope as tool selector, configurator, advisor, and job functions to include connectivity to E-commerce, easy ISO 13399 exports, and seamless integration to the ToolBOSS tool management system via the cloud. NOVO works in a number of ways. It shows how to machine a feature taking into account constraint requirements such as material, tolerance, and machining sequence. And it provides a filter to the possible options available for any cutting operation.

“NOVO thinks like a process planner,” said Thomas Long, head of the newly formed Virtual Machining RDE department at Kennametal. “It works from the feature back to the tooling strategy. In addition, each order number is tied to application data gleaned from hundreds of subject matter experts and decades of Kennametal experience. Request a part number and you also get pictures, assembled, spare parts lists, as well as inserts that fit. Not only does it accomplish in minutes what formerly took hours, it yields an optimized solution, backed by Kennametal expertise, every time.”

The rush to offer manufacturers cloud-based access to complete and current tooling and machine data is well under way. Companies as diverse as precision tooling producer Paul Horn GmbH, data management software producer TDM Systems GmbH, and global machine-tool builder Okuma are signing on with Swiss-based Machining Cloud GmbH (Stans, Switzerland). The Machining Cloud Intelligent Manufacturing platform allows manufacturer/customers to retrieve product information, applications, resources, services and information from participating company/suppliers.

The tooling and machine data are delivered to the shop floor where they can be used to maximize productivity. Manufacturer/customers have instant access to up-to-date cutting tool data and machine data without the hassle of searching printed catalogs and various Web sites. For example, Okuma’s Machining Cloud App will be released later this year and is planned to be available for Microsoft Windows 7 and 8, as well as Windows tablets, Android tablets, and the iPad for easy use on the shop floor.

Centerline TIR Holds Key to Tooling Performance

“There’s no doubt we are starting to see the trend toward higher technology in cutting tools, as manufacturers want to get more out of their investments in advanced machine and cutting tool technology,” said Tim Fara, managing director, Bilz Tool Co. Inc. (Lombard, IL). “We’re offering a full slate of new products for 2014 and 2015 that deliver quality, accuracy, and, above all else, superior TIR. Our principal focus is on the centerline of the toolholder for improved cutting tool accuracy, cutting tool rigidity in medium-to-heavy radial loads, and increasing metal removal rates while increasing tool life,” said Fara. “For every tenth [ten thousandth of an inch] that the tool moves off centerline, 10% of tool life is sacrificed. When I get into ER 6-8 tenths run out, I could lose 60–80% of total tool performance.”
JetSleeve ThermoGrip holder delivers coolant from around the outside of the tool via a gold ring collar to the tip of the cutting tool.
We have expanded the ThermoGrip product line to include: TSF- Slim Line holders, THD - heavy-duty holders, and the new TER - ER shrinkable collet system. The TER ThermoGrip collet system will be interchangeable with the ER collet holders with a 3 µm TIR. “We’ll shrink the cutting tool into the ER collet which will produce a potential 300% increase in tool life in Swiss machining,” said Fara.

“Today, nine out of ten auto manufacturers globally have standardized on shrink-fit type holders for accuracy, increased tool life, and long production runs,” said Fara. “The rest of the market for applications like aerospace, medical, and die/mold all recognize the value of ThermoGrip,” said Fara. “We have expanded ThermoGrip to include HSK, CAT, BT holders and we’re introducing JetSleeve, which is a ThermoGrip holder that uses coolant from around the outside of the tool via a gold ring collar and directs the coolant to the tip of the cutting tool where the ThermoGrip holder imparts a twisting motion that creates a mini tornado that pulls the coolant to the tip of the tool.”


Flexibility Needed for Difficult-to-Machine Materials

“Machine tool builders, cutting tool people, and the suppliers of advanced materials are all working hand-in-hand to provide the most advanced cutting solutions and process,” said Jeff Dei, president, Carmex Precision Tools (Richfield, WI). “Manufacturers today are looking for flexibility for shorter job runs of these harder and difficult-to-machine materials. Our new product introductions are intended to match their advances. New products for thread cutting range from high-performance coated carbide inserts to extendable deep-reach toolholders and spiral flute inserts for threading, grooving and chamfering. We’ve continued to add to our line of high-precision tools for Swiss-style machining and have added to our Tiny Tools line for small-sized, high-value parts. These products have been well received by the medical device, communications, and aerospace industries, among others,” said Dei.

“Basically,  we’re offering tooling that keeps pace with the advanced developments in CNC machining, for example, Swiss machines and multiaxis machining centers. We’re doing more with toolholders, micro tooling, better carbide substrates and coatings like nano coatings, for machining high-temperature alloys and hardened steels to Rc 60,” said Dei. “We are introducing two new substrate carbide grades: BLU grade which is nano coated for stainless, titanium machining and HBA grade for machining up to Rc 62 in steel, and high temp alloys. BLU has increased the thermal barrier to 4200°F (2204°C) and, in actual tests has delivered 30% more part at 30% higher speeds. Our new HBA grade was developed for superior performance in such superalloys as Hastelloy, Inconel, and nickel-based alloys,” said Dei.


Advanced Clamping and Gripping Technologies

At IMTS, Rohm Products of America (Lawrenceville, GA) will exhibit its new standardized Orange Line of drill chucks and live centers, manual lathe chucks, and machine vises. “We’ve streamlined our manufacturing process to be able to deliver a narrower focus of products at attractive prices and at a high-quality level,” said Matthew Mayer, president. Rohm is expanding the Orange Line with new products like the RB-M and RB-K machine vises that feature modular designs that allow them to be offered with either a mechanical spindle (RB-M) or power intensification (RB-K).

“On a completely opposite line of products, Rohm offers its E-Quipment line of clamping tools for turning and milling machines that eliminate hydraulic actuation. The energy efficient E-Quipment clamps require energy only “on demand” during clamping and disengaging actions for such machine functions as actuating cylinders for clamping chucks and drawbars for tool retention in the spindle.

“The typical machine tool consumes on average 14,000 kW-hours a year, equivalent to two average-sized houses,” said Mayer. Using servo-actuated systems eliminates the need for hydraulics and reduces energy consumption to less than 1000 kW-hours. Clamping pressure can be controlled easily during actuation and monitored using rotary encoders, and cycle times are faster. In addition, the use of petroleum products and their potential for contamination is eliminated, a a benefit for medical applications,” said Mayer.

Servo-actuated e-quipment products are intelligent with positioning feedback of the clamping stroke and pressures. They eliminate hydraulic actuation, reduce energy consumption, and deliver fast actuation times (cycle times).
Innovative Toolholding, Workholding Technology

Exsys Tool Inc. (San Antonio, FL) offers a wide array of toolholding and workholding products including the Preci-Flex modular quick-change tooling system, the Eppinger C3, C4, and C5 PSC connection baseholder, the Deco-Flex modular adapters for Swiss automatic machine tools, and the new line of Gressel vises. “The Gressel line doesn’t cause deflection at the baseplate and can be used for simple clamping up to five-axis applications on tombstones or on palletizing systems for machining centers,” said Scott Leitch.

“The compact Deco-Flex connection for Swiss machines features a conical and flat-face planar interface that ensures concentricity and repeatability with quick-change capability for end mills and cutters. Applications can range from single spindle up to six-spindle machines and includes thread whirling, gear hobbing, and angular adjustable tools,” said Leitch.

The Preci-Flex modular quick-change tooling system features a selection of adapters engineered to hold different cutting tool and shank designs. The adapters’ common connecting feature locks into a standard base unit on the machine turret, enabling tool/adapter assemblies to be preset offline then quickly switch in and out of the base unit. Tool positions repeat within ±3 µm, eliminating the need to re-center, touch off, or make test cuts.

“We’re seeing a lot of shops with gearcutting jobs in-house, cutting splines, helicals, or even bevel gears,” said Leitch. “We’re helping getting more adjustable angle gear hobbers developed that will enable the customer to develop different types of gears and multiple gears using the same toolholder rather than purchasing multiple toolholders or specialized tools,” said Leitch. Another new Exsys development is a compensating clutch that prevents misalignment of the machine turret due to normal wear or tear. In addition, the compensation clutch will allow for “true torque transfer” from the drive motor to the part without causing any harmonics.

Innovative Coolant Delivery System, Process Security

“There’s a whole paradigm shift in manufacturing with tolerances getting tighter and tighter and shops unable to get results out of existing equipment,” said Andreas Weber, president, Rego-Fix Tool Corp. (Indianapolis, IN). “When you buy a new advanced machine tool, everything that goes with it, the toolholding, workholding, cutting tools, and coolant delivery system, must be considered to maximize the machine’s performance,” said Weber.

Rego-Fix’s new product concepts are aimed at filling that gap between expectation and performance for advanced machining technologies. “Our new retrofit reCool coolant-through system quickly and cost effectively brings the benefits of internal cooling to the live tooling used in CNC lathes. We’re able to convert an existing tooling system to include through-coolant in as little as two minutes with reCool, which is much more effective in getting coolant to the cutting edge than spray pipes or nozzles,” said Weber.

Spindle speed and coolant pressure offer no practical barriers to reCool which achieves standard speeds up to 12,000 rpm and pressures up to 1000 psi (70 bar) with higher speeds and coolant pressures available upon request. With reCool, live tools featuring external threads (ISO 15488/DIN 6499) can machine faster and last longer. The system also works in conjunction with Rego-Fix collets, sealing and coolant flush disks, milling cutters and drills with diameters from 0.098 to 1.2" (2.5–30 mm).

The new secuRgrip, which is part of Rego-Fix’s powRgrip product line, brings simple, effective tool locking to challenging metal removal applications. The anti-pull system locks the collet and cutter to the toolholder body to eliminate cutter slippage via a patented locking system. A small, profiled locking key insert fits into a standard Weldon end-mill flat to provide the locking action. powRgrip secuRgrip has a TIR of 0.0001" (0.003 mm) and enables manufacturers to preset their tool heights. Existing powRgrip holders can be modified for use with the system. The secuRgrip locking system is now also available for milling chucks.

Existing tooling sysems can be retrofitted with through-coolant in as little as two minutes with Rego-Fix’s reCool system.
Tools that Give Manufacturers the Cutting Edge

At IMTS, Komet of America Inc. (Schaumburg, IL) will showcase its broad range of tooling ideas and solutions to provide manufacturers with “the cutting edge,” according to Stephanie Goudreau, director, marketing and business development. Komet brands include the Komet drilling line, Jel and Bass threading products, Dihart reamers, and Komet Rhobest tools for machining composites. Also, Komet Brinkhaus ToolScope provides process monitoring and adaptive control, and Komet Service offers the support required for its extensive line of solid carbide tools for drilling, milling, and threading operations.

Built on the success of its line of drills, the Komet lineup of milling tools includes indexble, solid carbide and PCD milling cutters intended for various milling operations. “For example, our Quatron hi.feed milling cutter is well-suited for high-speed and plunge milling, and the hi.aeQ face mill features a set of tangentially positioned indexable inserts, each offering eight usable cutting edges for cost-effective machining and long tool life,” said Goudreau.

Komet will demonstrate tools machining various materials, including 4140 steel, cast iron, and aluminum on a GROB G350 universal machining center by drilling, reaming, tapping, threading and milling. Parts for the automotive, energy industry, and general engineering applications like large-diameter machining will be showcased as well as Komet Service which has six partner licensees in the US and Canada for regrinding and manufacturing solid carbide tools.

50xD in One OP without Pecking

Walter USA LLC (Waukesha, WI) is launching new products in its indexable lines for turning and milling and round tools for its drilling, threading and solid carbide milling applications. Walter’s range of tough, reliable and long-life standard solid-carbide deep-hole drills have been expanded with the introduction of Walter Titex X·treme D40 and the X·treme D50 drills which provide 40xD and 50xD drilling depths respectively. Walter’s XD technology (XD stands for extremely deep) enables holes to be drilled in one operation without pecking, in steel, cast iron or nonferrous metals.

The new Walter Blaxx F5055 slitting cutter incorporates similar technology to the Walter Cut SX grooving system which is based on self-gripping, form-locking indexable inserts that provide ideal cutting force for the tool. The SX parting and grooving system also features coolant supply through the tool for optimum cooling of the cutting edge for all monoblock tools in the SX system.

New Tiger·tec Silver high-performance cutting material with new positive rake 7 and 11° geometries for steel machining along with new geometries for cast iron machining include a classic flat top geometry with a stepped plateau, as well as a robust geometry for maximum process reliability, even for interrupted cuts. Walter’s range of counterboring and precision boring tools for diverse machining applications has been expanded with Capto adaptors in addition to the existing NCT and ScrewFit adapter program.

Growth Supports Customer Requirements

The latest cutting tools from Mitsubishi Materials Corp. (Fountain Valley, CA) include new carbide grades for turning and milling ISO P class steel, ISO M class stainless, ISO K class cast iron, and ISO S class for titanium and high-temp alloys, according to Marc Kinnemann, manager, technical center and training. “Developments go across the board for aerospace, medical, energy oil and gas and die/mold industry applications, but there is still a lot of machining done on 4000 series steels, and 8620 and 1020 steels, the bread and butter applications, every day,” said Kinnemann.

Mitsubishi Materials, which is celebrating its 30th year doing business in the US, has grown in all respects to support its customers. “We have the sales support and capabilities in place, as well as inventory that can meet our customers’ needs. Support and inventory are critical. When a customer searches for a tool to meet their needs and it’s not available, that’s a pretty big disappointment,” said Kinnemann. Mitsubishi Materials has installed two Okuma CNCs, a machining center and a lathe, to support demonstrations and presentations and offers training to customers, distributor and integrator partners, and employees. ME  


This article was first published in the August 2014 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.  

Published Date : 8/1/2014

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