As a single industry, mold and die serves multiple industrial segments. And with a global footprint that yields a high-pressure environment demanding the most up-to-date technology, it’s firmly established as a strong indicator of the manufacturing base.
As work shifts from overseas back to the U.S., several cutting tool suppliers are bullish about the moldmaking market, predicting that the sector should continue to demonstrate growth potential. As such, many suppliers have been motivated to reintroduce and develop technology for this niche marketplace, and here at IMTS there is plenty to see. Following are a few highlights:
“The mold and die market is demanding a lot of cutting tools, especially for milling applications,” says Juan Séculi, global product manager for indexable milling with Kennametal (Booth W-1522). Under Kennametal’s Indexable Milling Team, the company has launched a number of new platforms tailor-made for mold and die that can be seen here at IMTS, including the KDMB-KDMT (Kennametal Die and Mold Ball-Kennametal Die and Mold Torus) platform.
This platform has been recently updated with new geometries and grades for the inch portfolio; high run-out accuracy; small diameters to compete against solid end mills; long-reach steel and carbide toolholders; and the ability to run milling operations in hardened steel up to 65 HRc. Overall, this is a platform targeted to run semi-finishing and finishing operations, where tool life and surface finishing quality are key.
According to Troy Stashi, industry specialist, automotive/milling tools, with Sandvik Coromant (Booth W-1500), performance and quality are at the heart of the mold and die industry, which is reflected in Sandvik’s booth this year. “Moldmakers want to use the cutting tool to maximum performance, and Sandvik has developed tools to run at that maximum performance level.”
This includes an extensive line of profile milling tools—both indexable solid carbide tools like our CoroMill Plura high-performance end mills; CoroMill 316 exchangeable head milling system; CoroMill 300 round insert cutter program; a well-established high-feed milling cutter, the CoroMill 210; and now a broad offering of drills and taps. This fall, Sandvik will release its newest high-feed milling cutters and a new line of face mills.
At Iscar (Booth W-1800), Tom Raun, specialist, machine tool OEM and industry projects, explains that the company recently has targeted larger-diameter/to-depth-ratio holes—typically 8×D and above. “In many cases these holes need center drills, multiple long drills, and reaming or boring tools to complete and use peck drill cycles,” Raun says. “We are looking to eliminate the peck cycles as well as the reaming/boring operation in some instances.”
Currently, Iscar is offering the SumoCham, a new replaceable-tip drill available in lengths up to 12×D; the Chamgun, a replaceable-tip gun drill for longer depths; the Bayo-T Ream for high productivity reaming applications; and the BTA drilling option for more productive deep-hole drilling.
Tom Benjamin, product manager for Walter USA (Booth W-1700), notes that the company is committed to providing tools and technology that the mold and die industry demands. “The high technology requirements for this market fit well with Walter’s capabilities,” he says. Here at IMTS, Walter is featuring Protomax Ultra for hard-part machining for mold and die.
Seco Tools North America (Booth W-1564) supports hundreds of mold and die customers across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, with solutions for each unique application, whether those include standard or custom products. According to Gary Meyers, Seco product manager, milling, “When developing products specific to mold and die, Seco Tools pays close attention to what components mold and die makers are currently machining, as well as what materials and cutting operations they are using to get the job done.”
Most recently, Meyers notes, Seco has noticed that, due to increased workloads, several mold and die makers are investing in new equipment to effectively tackle difficult applications and increase productivity. He adds that Seco has stepped up to the challenge with a Component Engineered Tooling (CET) program where it can assist mold and die makers with a complete tool package, as well as offer advice on machine selection and set up.
At the Seco Tools booth, attendees can see a wide variety of cutting tool solutions specific to mold and die. A few include High Feed 2, a line of small-diameter, high-feed milling tools offering high feed rates and small depths-of-cut that can handle pocketing, ramping, helical interpolation, facing, contouring, slotting and plunging; Minimaster Plus, a line of end mills with replaceable carbide inserts that tackles tough milling applications in steel, stainless steel, cast iron and aluminum; and Jabro JHF180, a solid carbide high-feed end mill that effectively machines hardened steel, so it is well-suited for the production of small workpieces and cavities.
With work continuing to return to the U.S. market and mold manufacturers seeking out technology solutions to improve their productivity, cutting tools play an integral role, evident on the show floor.