Lean manufacturers focus on eliminating all non-value-adding steps from their manufacturing processes. Examples of such waste include unnecessary worker motion, significant amounts of work in process (WIP) and long setup times.
One factor that increases setup time is change-out of cutting tool inserts for specific machining operations or materials. But what if it were possible for a single type of milling or turning insert to perform most all cutting operations on a number of different materials? The same insert type could then remain in the toolholder for multiple workpieces, which would not only reduce setup time and insert inventory, but also eliminate the time required to visit the tool room to find inserts for a new job. This is what the Multi-Mat inserts from Lamina Technologies (Wayne, New Jersey) aim to do.
In effect, one grade fits most applications. Through a combination of proprietary submicron powder metallurgy and PVD coating technology, a single Multi-Mat insert grade can mill cast iron, nickel and titanium, as well as steel alloys, including stainless. Another grade performs turning operations on those same materials.
The Multi-Mat line currently offers 90 insert geometries which are said to cover 85 percent of cutting operations that small- and medium-sized shops typically encounter. These inserts would likely be most appropriate for shops that run multiple materials, have small batch sizes and require many change-overs. Cutting data for the various materials on the back of the insert container (shown in the photo above) provide machine operators with a good starting point.
Lamina's global headquarters is located in Yverson-les-Bains, Switzerland. Though its Multi-Mat inserts are relatively new to the U.S. market, there are a number of users in Europe.