Cutting Tools for CAM – Part 6

Generally speaking, if you use the latest generation of carbide tools (which actually cost less on a per piece basis), you can achieve incremental improvements in machining productivity, enough to achieve a fast payback on the carbide tools and more. If you use dynamic machining strategies without the advanced carbide tools, you will also achieve incremental improvements. Using both together it is often possible to attain one or more step increases in productivity.

The key is to intelligently introduce the most appropriate approach to efficiency optimization based on your objective. You have to ask yourself, “What are my goals?” The tools and manufacturing strategies will vary accordingly. Some of the most common goals include:

Raw productivity. Sometimes you can’t make critical parts fast enough to keep up with the demand. In this case aggressive conventional machining with shallow cuts and large stepovers may be appropriate.

Low volume part tooling cost reduction. It may be appropriate to use lower cost tools to cut small volumes of parts that are not likely to be made frequently.

Eliminating tool breakage in critical processes. One of the most frequent reasons tool vendors are called into a manufacturing shop is to trouble shoot tool breakage problems. It may be possible to avoid this problem by using different tool designs, altering the machining strategy, or a combination of both. However, in many cases it is difficult to experiment with different manufacturing processes when components are already in full production. In these cases it may just be more expedient to substitute a more robust tool or back off on feeds and speeds.

Reducing shop wide tool costs. When overall cutting tool costs are taking a big bite out of a shop’s profitability it’s time to begin a methodical program of matching the right tool and CAM strategies to the part types that are resulting in the highest costs. The prototyping is a good time to pay careful attention to tool selection and how Dynamic Motion Technology can be used to improve cutting efficiency and/or improving tool life.

High CAM reliability for running lights out. It is bad enough to break a tool or have wear related quality problems emerge during normal working hours. The effects of these problems are compounded when the equipment is operating unattended. Safe CNC programs that can be run unattended throughout the night and weekends can double the productivity of a shop’s most valuable equipment. High operating efficiency is great, but it must not in any way come at the expense of high operational reliability. In this situation robust tools used in combination with Dynamic Motion strategies (applied somewhat less aggressively than on the day shift) may be necessary.

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