Run Silent, Run Deep: Smart Tools Improve Boring and Turning Productivity
Category: IMTS Network • Jul 20, 2021
What’s happening at the end of a boring bar? An experienced machinist can gauge cutting tool performance by sound alone, as noise is but one indicator of problems originating from the vibration frequently encountered in boring and other operations, especially when machining with long overhangs. The vibrations may cause poor surface texture, insufficient accuracy, loss of productivity, increased insert, and machine tool wear as well as noise.
Solving vibration problems always provides a productivity boost, but the key problem solvers – experienced machinists and engineers – are in short supply. Even then, educated guesstimates and tribal knowledge are no way optimize CNC performance in an era of digital transformation, much less for machining expensive alloys such as titanium.
AMT’s Stephen LaMarca, host of the IMTS Network series Road Trippin’ with Steve, learned how Sandvik Coromant Company is addressing this issue when he got an inside look at the laboratories at the Sandvik Coromant Center. Here, dedicated teams of manufacturing specialists, development and process engineers, and CAM programmers work with actual production machines to help customers to test new materials and processes, develop and implement new solutions, take part in joint R&D projects, and create new tools, including the company’s Silent Tools™ Plus. This anti-vibration tooling delivers real-time sensory data to the equipment operator. This allows for better on-the-fly decision making because the device instantly detects chatter and displays vital job data, such as vibration, backlash, surface quality, temperature, and more, over Bluetooth through a user-friendly dashboard.
To dig deeper into the world of smart tools, IMTS connected with Sandvik Coromant’s Jeff Rizzie, director of digital machining for the Americas.
“Intelligent tooling is the next big thing to connect to manufacturing ERP systems,” says Rizzie. “The data from tooling can indicate wear, temperature, positioning, and vibration. This information can be used to determine better settings that extend tool life and wear trends for predictive maintenance.”
Collecting data directly from the tooling provides a better measurement of the tool’s utilization, which is valuable information to calculate tool life. Better analysis of tool life increases time between maintenance cycles, so lines can run longer to maximize productivity.
“A lot of manufacturers measure cycles of operation whether the tool is cutting or not,” says Rizzie. “Tooling data measures when the tool is cutting to calculate true utilization, which is a much more precise way to determine the life of a tool.”
He also notes that measuring productivity is an essential first step in boosting machine utilization rate, which is below 50 percent in the average shop. Coupled with the ongoing labor shortage, Rizzie believes that manufacturers must use technology to maximize productivity per operator.
“The insights from connected tooling can put time back on the clock,” says Rizzie. “Collecting and analyzing that data gives a system or operator the input needed to make efficiency decisions quicker.”
For example, vibration influences a machine’s speed, feed, depth of cut, and surface quality. Vibration-dampening toolholders for turning, milling, boring, and drilling now feature sensors and communication capabilities.
“Operators can access performance data using an app to obtain an indication of the expected surface finish. They can make real-time adjustments to the cutting conditions to yield closer tolerances, better surface quality and higher metal removal rate, which reduces cost per component,” says Rizzie. “Coupled with anti-vibration technology, these toolholders enable reach lengths up to 18 times bar diameter. That immediately expands a job shop’s capabilities.”
Smart tooling also includes software featuring an application programming interface (API) connected directly to a user’s CAM system. The API automatically provides speed and feed data, eliminating a common source of errors. By adding software that connects to a tool library, the CAM can access all of the dimensional information around the tools used in a shop.
“All these new software solutions work with drag-and-drop simplicity, adding another time-saving benefit to the digital environment,” says Rizzie.