Ongoing exchange between CAD/CAM software technology developers and cutting tool manufacturers is an excellent illustration of how technology collaborations can create productivity gains in manufacturing. Several examples involve our company and cutting tool manufacturers.
Comprehensive training is often the foundation of fruitful collaboration. For example, a RobbJack Corp. applications engineer recently worked alongside applications specialists at the Manufacturing Lab at CNC Software Inc. (Tolland, CT), developer of Mastercam CAD/CAM Software. RobbJack (Lincoln, CA) received a deep-dive into the constant chip load machining capability of the program, which we refer to as Dynamic Motion. The data and experience gathered are supporting RobbJack’s customers in the field, providing them with added productivity improvements.
Another example involves Iscar Metals Inc. (Arlington, TX). With access to tool data from cloud-based tool libraries, CAM users can access cut parameters and high-performance cutting methods, such as Iscar’s High Efficiency Machining (HEM) for solid-carbide tools. For stepover amounts of 10–20%, Dynamic Motion toolpaths in Mastercam apply standard radial chip thinning calculations based on Iscar’s cut parameters, producing excellent productivity gains.
However, once the stepover amount is 5–10%, a proprietary HEM algorithm from Iscar can be applied to the same toolpath to increase productivity and tool life even further. These small stepover amounts are particularly valuable when machining thin-walled parts. With HEM, parts can be machined at a high material removal rate with minimal distortion and deflection.
In another successful collaboration, toolmaker Kennametal Inc. (Latrobe, PA) sought ways to maximize tool life with a new ceramic end mill for machining Inconel. Kennametal visited the Manufacturing Lab and ran tests on its new tools with Dynamic Motion technology, which produced consistent chip load across the entire toolpath, using the full flute length. The flame-producing, lighter stepover cuts were exciting to see and resulted in vibration-free motion and twice the tool life of solid-carbide end mills.
Alliances can also involve customization of CAM toolpaths. For Sandvik Coromant (Fair Lawn, NJ), turning superalloy components using ceramic inserts was challenging. Typical linear-style turning toolpaths, when applied to full-radius inserts, can introduce vibration and cause notching, poor chip control, and excessive tool wear. Working with software engineers, Sandvik Coromant leveraged the non-linear attributes of Dynamic Motion milling toolpaths and applied them to turning. In stainless steels and superalloys, this distributed wear evenly across the insert and notching was virtually eliminated. Cycle times were reduced and tool life was improved by 300% or more.
Some tooling innovations require advanced software. Emuge Corp. (West Boylston, MA) offers circle segment finishing tools that provide larger effective cutting radii than traditional ball end mills. Compared to ball end mills that need multiple passes to produce a smooth surface in finishing operations, circle segment tools reduce the number of passes required and dramatically shorten cycle times. Toolpath strategies were written into the CAM software that matched the cutting tool profile to the part surface being machined to minimize the cusp height. As a result, the number of passes required to machine the surface can be reduced, shortening cycle times by up to 80% while improving surface finish.
Traditionally, cutting tool and software development has been a separate, serial process, with software advances catching up with tooling technology, and vice versa. Now, parallel collaboration between toolmakers and CAM developers provides a faster path to higher productivity.