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Evolution in Cutting Tools

Author: Jason Zenger
Published On: Feb 12, 2019 10:45:32 AM

One of the core values of MakingChips is to be Intelligent Designers. We want everything we create to be created on purpose and for a purpose. Whether it’s a high quality podcast episode, a keynote we’re delivering at an event, or a convincing marketing campaign for a manufacturing company, we want to be known as content producers who produce thoughtful, high-quality programs that drive results. This value, Intelligent Designers, is an intentional play on words and is very important to me personally -

Just as our world was intelligently designed and created, there are many talented engineers in the metalworking nation who have designed, created, tested, and brought to market technologies in the cutting tool industry that have revolutionized the way we remove metal and make chips.

Dare I say it, that the cutting industry has evolved quickly and manufacturing leaders have benefited from this evolution?

In this week’s episode of MakingChips with guest Tom Senger, manager of the Vending, Integration, and Productivity (VIP) program at Zenger’s, we discussed the cutting tool product trends for 2019. However, there have been a few other evolutions in the cutting market that have helped accelerate our our ability to remove more chips at faster rates.


The chart has expanded

The original three speed and feed options were steel, stainless steel, and cast iron. Machinists are now introduced to at least six different standard variations of the original 3 (PMK) and many times with specific grades that coincide.

We now have machining calculation options for non-ferrous (aluminum), high temperature alloys (INCONEL®, titanium, and other heat-resistant alloys) and hardened materials.

The new chart looks like this:

P - Steel
M - Stainless Steel
K - Cast IronN - Non-ferrous
S - Hi-temp Alloys
H - Hardened Materials

In addition to the material-specific grades, other cutting tool variables are becoming more application and material specific: point angles, flute geometries, twisted inserts versus simple shapes and many more. We discussed many of these points during this week’s MakingChips podcast.


The calculations are more accurate

It used to be that a manufacturer’s speed and feed calculations gave starting parameters on the box of inserts, and a more in-depth chart was found in the brand’s catalog. Or, you could use the old adage of “start at 200 SFM and increase until it breaks”.

These days calculations have evolved too. Now, most tooling manufacturers have running parameter calculators online. With the growing number of options regarding tool type, material, and complexity of the operation, there are too many variables to put into a simple chart in a catalog.

These online calculators are really helpful especially with new machinists entering the field. More accurate calculations give them the confidence to run their tools correctly on the first try.

We are in the era of online self diagnosis, self teaching, and self troubleshooting, so most companies rely less on support offered in the field from the tooling manufacturers. Also, more products are being introduced via marketing rather than technical field sales reps. Online calculators are as much a marketing tool as they are a helpful engineering tool for machinist.

As we discussed during the podcast, our own field sales team is spending less time introducing new products and helping with speed and feed calculations (because this information is available online) and instead we are working on projects for continuous improvement. The introduction of new products comes from the continuous improvement project, not vise versa.


The manufacturing school of hard knocks has a new kind of teacher

A few weeks ago on the MakingChips podcast we interviewed Dr. Tony Schmitz, a PhD in machining...what, really? Before this interview, I had not considered that someone dedicated research to advancing the metalworking industry.

According to a 2014 study conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and published by The Manufacturing Institute, the metalworking nation is primarily high school educated. A college degree isn’t necessary to have a successful career in our industry. However, as technology advances, there are rising opportunities for those who are interested to study manufacturing at the college level. This involves researching and applying rapidly evolving technologies that will influence tremendous changes in the future of manufacturing.

So far, the bulk of evolution and advancement in our industry has come from individual innovators who graduated from the school of hard knocks; however, combine that industry experience from guys like Jim Carr and Tom Senger with a guy like Tony Schmitz, who dedicates vast amounts of time researching issues such as how to tune in the harmonics, and you’ve got an unbeatable combination.

You can check out Tony’s episode of the podcast, and read his article on performing tap testing by visiting our Chip-In Contributor page, as Nick mentioned in this week’s episode.


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