So you jumped on the high-performance machining bandwagon and are now looking into ways to increase your operation´s overall efficiency.
Running a machining operation can be a lot of things, but boring isn’t one of them. There is always something new going on, a new challenge to overcome, or a piece that is becoming extremely difficult to machine given the angle of the cut or the cutting strategy needed to balance speed and accuracy.
These are problems that cannot be solved by just throwing money at them. For example, we just bought an expensive 5 ax CNC because we wanted to try a more efficient toolpath strategy with higher feed rates, and we ended up only using it for projects that could use a typical 3-ax configuration all the same. We´re sending the machine back this week unless we find very specific clients that require more exotic cuts.
This experience made us rediscover the importance of having the right CNC software. We gave some of the newest programs a try and they made our old reliable machine shine. Speed, efficiency, and feed rates went up considerably, and we achieved a higher part count at the end of each shift.
That change reduced costs in our shop but made us discover areas in which we were literally tossing money away. The worst offender here was tooling.
We regularly went through a bunch of high-speed steel heads, and we weren’t even pushing our spindles to their fastest rotation speeds. Temperatures and accuracy went out of the window as soon as we pushed the machine a bit over the high-speed steel´s tolerance levels, which is not saying much when you’re going through thick aluminum and non-ferrous alloys.
That’s when we decided to redirect our high-performance transformation strategy and focus on tooling. Our recently acquired cutting software modeled certain toolpaths that required tools with superior hardness and that could withstand higher temperatures. We knew the machine was talking about carbide, and we had tried some nice end mills in the past but were not very happy about the sharpness, and we didn´t believe the price of these was justified.
We went out shopping for solid carbide end mills for sale. It turned out to be more difficult than we thought as many of the big brands would put a price tag that didn’t agree with our plans of reducing overall costs. We went to markets overseas, but we didn’t hear anything good about tools manufactured out of the US. Many of the suppliers were resellers who could not answer basic questions about quality or tool reliability.
Finally, we found Online Carbide, a US-based carbide tool manufacturer with extremely good reviews. They had solid carbide end mills for sale at a great price and didn’t skimp on details about their tools and their uses.
We have been using their tools for two years now, and they really helped us push our operation to the next level. We finish our shifts with an ever-growing stack of finished parts and we have greatly reduced tool change cycles, which saves a ton of money in tools. When asked about HSS I always say I´d rather watch paint dry than have to go back to steel tools of any kind.
I wholeheartedly recommend Online Carbide tools if you plan on turning your shop into a high-performance machining operation.