How AM Is Advancing into Cutting Tools: Photos from EMO
The design freedom of additive manufacturing delivers increased performance to cutting tools. At the world’s leading exposition for machine tools, I saw various examples of this.
The biennial EMO exposition in Hannover, Germany, is the largest trade show in the world for machine tools and other industrial metalworking equipment. I recently posted this report from this year’s show. One of the developments I observed was an increasing role for additive manufacturing (AM). While I expected to see AM on exhibit in the area of the show dedicated to this category, what surprised me is how much of it I found in an entirely different part of the show: the area devoted to cutting tools.
Because of the design freedoms related to both fluid delivery and reducing the mass of the tool, the makers of metalworking tooling for “subtractive” machining processes are increasingly turning to AM. The photos below capture a few examples I saw of metalworking tools made additively.
Internal coolant passages in a milling tool body such as this would typically be straight holes. AM’s freedom to provide curving channels allows this milling tool from LMT to deliver coolant precisely where it is needed. LMT says test cutting has shown a tool life improvement of 50% in milling titanium thanks to this design change.
These toolholders for stationary cutting tools used in turning also offer curving channels to direct coolant to where it can best aid the cutting edge. Arno Tools developed this toolholder. A cutaway version at the far left of the build plate shows the curving internal channels.
Additive manufacturing allows cutting tool maker Horn to tailor coolant rings to the needs of specific applications of its reaming system. Different ring designs with different passages control the pressure and direction of coolant flow to ensure optimal chipbreaking.
The advance of electric vehicles creates a demand for motor housings, and therefore the need for more machining of motor housing IDs. Machine tool maker Makino developed this tool for that purpose. Metal AM plus the use of carbon fiber composite resulted in a tool as large as the motor housing ID but nevertheless lightweight enough to be moved rapidly in the machine’s toolchanger and accelerated up to cutting speed quickly.
For this contract shop, it's what happens before heat treat that ensures hard turning process success. They've learned getting it right early eliminates problems later.
Combining a rotating tool with rotating work produces a machining operation that is distinct from standard turning or milling.
Decisions about the cutting tools used in machining operations are arguably among the most important in modern manufacturing.