Over time, cutting tools can chip and wear, eventually rendering them useless. Every tool has a lifespan and replacing tools is inevitable. However, there are some strategies that will help minimize damage and extend the life of your tools. Here are some tips to help you extend the life of your cutting tools.
Control the Heat
During the cutting process, the friction of the chip removal generates heat. Over time, this heat can wear away your tools. For this reason, it’s important to control the generated heat as much as possible. A coolant system utilizing CO2 can help control the amount of heat generated during the cutting process, which will minimize the damage done to the tool.
Prepare the Edge
Edge preparation mostly involves removing material from the cutting tool. This process is important to minimize the possibility of edge chipping that can lead to tool failure. Preparing the edge will strengthen the edge in order to minimize this damage. There are different tactics to prepare the edge of the material, including brushing and nylon filament brush honing.
Design Tools Properly
One of the best ways to ensure a tool is long lasting is to ensure that it has a proper design. Cutting tools need to achieve high metal removal rates with minimum stress on the tool. These tools need to be able to handle the stress of simultaneous, multi-directional movements. A properly designed tool will be able to hold up to the stresses of the job without being damaged.
Coating the Inserts
Special coatings will help avoid heat damage to your cutting tool. There are many different coatings that are used on cutting tools, with the main coatings being CVD and PVD coatings. CVD coatings are thicker with good wear resistance; however, they do not adhere well to sharp edges. PVD coatings are thinner, but can better adhere to sharp edges and are easier to apply. Both of these coatings are suitable for different applications, but both will help avoid heat damage to your cutting tools.
Use the Right Feeds and Speeds
It’s important to look up the correct feeds and speeds for your tools and for each metal your tool cuts. When tools are used at the wrong feed or speed, it can lead to damage of the material and the tool itself. Although you might think the sound and look of the cut is enough to judge if it’s correct, sometimes you will not notice the damage that is occurring. In order to avoid this damage and extend the life of your tool, look up the feeds and speeds ahead of time and enter the right ones into the computer program.
Lubricate Sticky Materials
There are certain materials that will be prone to stick to the material the cutting tool is made of. When this sticking occurs, it can weld chips onto the cutting edge and damage the tool. With sticky materials, it’s important to lubricate the materials to prevent these issues. Flood coolant, mist coolant, and tool coatings can all provide this lubrication. Lubricating sticky materials is an effective way to extend the life of your cutting tools.
Be Gentle When Entering and Exiting the Cut
A significant amount of damage to cutting tools is done when initially entering or exiting the cut. On tougher materials, entering the cut can even chip an edge of the tool. To avoid this damage, you should avoid plunging the cutter and enter and exit the cut gently. Using a ramp, helix, or spiral can help ensure gentler entry and exit of cuts. For profile cuts and surfacing, consider arcing into the cut. Another way to ensure a gentler entry is to use an indexable drill to create a hole for entry. Gentle entry and exit of a cut can help prevent damage to the cutting tool and extend its life.
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