Coming Soon: Universal, CAM-Independent Cutting Tool Library

Software relying on the ISO standards for cutting tools aims to dramatically simplify tool selection.


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ISO 13399 is a family of standards that defines dimensions and other data for cutting tools, inserts, tool bodies, adapters, toolholders and other tooling-related components. In theory, these standards enable cutting tool items from various vendors to be described precisely within a single framework. In practice, what is the value of this consistency?

Cutting tool maker Sandvik Coromant believes the value will be significant, indeed.
Mats Allard, manager for virtual machining with the company, says tool selection is one area of CNC programming in which there is still considerable inefficiency. A given CAM system might have a built-in tool library, but the user still has to populate it by entering tool data according to the way that library is structured. Plus, even before that, the user has to find the right tools for the shop’s parts—a discovery that often involves sorting through catalogs from various vendors that define and organize their products in different ways.
Sandvik Coromant helped to develop the ISO 13399 system. Now the company plans to introduce a software utility built upon these standards. In a recent presentation, Mr. Allard described the company’s vision for a “tool library service” that promises to dramatically simplify the process of selecting the right tool for a particular cut, whether that tool comes from Sandvik Coromant or from another supplier.
The utility would serve as a universal tool library able to interface with CAM. Tool data from any vendor would be easy to import into the system, so long as the data are defined according to ISO 13399. Once data from various tool suppliers are in the system, the utility could eliminate much of the manual lookup involved in finding appropriate tooling. The user could just enter required parameters for a particular cut and obtain various suppliers’ offerings in the same search returns. Alternatively, the CAM software might even structure this search automatically by letting the tool library service suggest tools or tool assemblies appropriate to a selected part feature.
The scope of the software’s potential is so large that the development effort is large as well. Sandvik is still exploring how far its anticipated tool library service will go in making use of the ISO 13399 format. At EMO, a simulation in Sandvik’s booth will illustrate the company’s thinking on the software so far.
In order for this utility to be widely used, of course, it will have to work well not only with cutting tool product lines, but also with CAM systems. Will leading CAM companies make the effort to integrate with this utility?
According to Mr. Allard, they won’t have to. He notes that one of the companies in the Sandvik group is TDM Systems, a developer of tool management software that is already using proven CAM interfaces. By building on the interfaces this company has already developed, the tool library service will be able to work with many CAM systems without the CAM companies having to do anything to make this happen. 


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