What is there to gain from re-evaluating current cutting tools with what’s available today?  

Technology is always evolving. Carbide grades, problem solving tool geometries and coatings can really help improve performance even if your using high performance tools from the past. RobbJack commonly works with our customers and it is not uncommon to achieve performance gains of over 500% improvement. One recent example we worked with a customer who was using a high performance 1” diameter tool in aluminum. The one 1” diameter tool was typical for the type of pockets and depths they were cutting. We were able to switch them from the 1” diameter tool down to a new technology 1/2” diameter tool at 1/3 the price. The original cycle time was a little longer than 4 hours and the new cycle time is only 36 minutes, a 650% improvement. There are other added benefits as well. Their yearly tooling costs is 1/4 of their original tooling cost. We improved their part quality by eliminating all the chatter and stair-casing marks on the side walls, which eliminated costly hand finishing operations.

Beyond speeds, feeds, and tool life, how do you choose the right cutting tools? 

Choosing the correct tool is very important and has been difficult in the past. There are so many tools out there it is difficult to choose the right tool. That is why RobbJack developed two key features on our website to try to make it much easier for a machinist to pick the best tool. We have a tool search feature and a speed and feed feature that does not use the traditional table driven and chip load per tooth data that many rely on to make sure the tool is applied correctly. We use a logic-based method and include as many variables as possible. Such as the amount of horsepower or kilowatts your machine has, the type of cutting and programming method you are using, etc. to recommend the number of flutes, speeds feeds and the best tool to fit the application. The tool search is similar. It is a dynamic tool search that you can enter in the any of the info you know, and it will match the best tool for the application. As an example, you can choose a 1/2” diameter, coated tool, to cut titanium in a trochoidal high efficiency tool path and it will give you all the tools that fit your criteria, along with a video and related information.

What is the trend toward application-specific cutting tools?

At RobbJack we are seeing an increased interest in application specific cutting tools.  Many are finding large performance gains when the tools are specifically designed, for not only the material they are cutting, but also the way they are cutting the part. Instead of using a generic 3 flute tool we will supply a tool that closely matches the way the customer is cutting, matched to the milling machine they are using, and problem-solving geometries that can enhance the performance. In a competitive market, you should be working with your cutting tool supplier to make sure you’re getting the best solution that will help increase your chances of success. Many cutting tool manufactures have in-house labs that can fine tune your cutting tools and help ensure your success.

How can you reduce vibration in machining processes? 

Vibration or chatter is common on deep pockets and thin walls. The most common chatter problem is usually in aluminum, but vibration happens in many materials. Vibration is caused when the part vibrates at a certain frequency and the cutting tool vibrates at a different frequency. This out of sync vibration between the tool and the material will actually increase and excite the vibration in both. The cutting edge of the tools being out of sync with the material’s vibration will cause the flute to take larger chip load than it should on one rotation and then too little or not even cut on the next rotation. RobbJack developed a patented geometry called mirror edge. This mirror edge geometry induces its frequency into the part, so both the tool and the part are now vibrating in sync. So, all the flutes of the tool are cutting the correct and equal amount of material as all the other flutes as they rotate through the part. This in-sync vibration allows our tools to cut much more aggressively and most of the time at maximum RPM of the machine, producing beautiful finishes without having to slow down. This allows us to remove an amazing amount of material and max out the horsepower even in super machines of 160KW or 200+ horsepower machines. As an example, we spin a 1” diameter tool at 33,000 RPM taking full slot cuts 3/4” deep at 1188 ipm removing over 891 cubic inches per minute or 90 pounds of aluminum per minute.

Within the cutting tool industry, what changes can we expect to see in the next three to five years?

RobbJack envisions that the machining process will become much easier in the future. CAD/CAM Programming, cutting tools, tool holders and machine tools will synergistically work much closer together than they do today. I think many machining procedures will be much more automated than it is today. RobbJack tools are available with solid models and cutting data for each of our tools today which can be used in most CAD/CAM systems.  But this technical information will be much more integrated and much more advanced for your specific application in the future. We are currently working on web-based project for custom specials. This new technology will give our customer the ability to get a quote, the solid model of the custom tool, and all technical information instantaneously.