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    Tooling

    NTK’s ceramic tools cut aerospace materials up to 15 times faster

    • By NTK Cutting Tools
    • June 1, 2020
    • 4 minute read

    In a recent MTDCNC interview, Peter Ward from NTK Cutting Tools tells us how ceramic cutting tools from the Japanese cutting tool manufacturer can improve productivity in the aerospace industry – machining at speeds and feeds up to 15 times faster than conventional carbide.

    When asked by Giovanni Albanese why the industry should be turning to ceramics, Peter explained: “The main reason to use ceramic tooling stems from its physical properties when compared to carbide. One key property is that they retain their hardness at high temperatures, which means we can use much higher and elevated cutting speeds. If you talk about how much faster, you can be looking at 10 to 15 times faster. Where you may be turning Inconel at 50 to 100m/min with carbide, we have jobs running up to 500m/min with ceramic, making it a transformational choice.”

    With ceramic tooling set to save manufacturers hours rather than minutes on cycle times, why isn’t everyone adopting this technology? “There are a few reasons, maybe education is the first. Secondly, some people may have had a bad experience and thirdly, the application must be correct for ceramic tools. We can’t machine everything, and the machine tool and application must be correct to adopt ceramic tooling. This demonstrates there are a number of factors that have to come together for manufacturers to really hit the productivity levels.”

    Gio continued to ask Peter that if an aerospace manufacturer wanted to adopt ceramic tooling to improve processes, would it be a completely new process? Peter said: “Normally, yes. The way to successfully use ceramics means that you must change the programming styles, as they are completely different to carbide strategies. There are three or four rules that must be followed, but this is not complicated. Ceramic tooling programming is very simple, as it is largely based around the second rule of ceramics and that is that they have a low breaking strength. So, all programming has to be around avoiding shock loading.”

    So, what are the rules for using ceramics?

    Peter continues: “The rules to using ceramic are all based around protecting against shock loading. So, in the instance of turning a turbine ring, we would prepare the part with pre-chamfering or ramping in to protect the insert. As a guide, only the first insert you use should be going into rough material; subsequent inserts should be working from the initial insert cuts. So, preparing the part is the first rule to consider.”

    “The second factor to consider is the breaking strength. When roughing, we only use very strongly shaped inserts such as round inserts or secondly in the hierarchy would be square inserts with a large radius. The third rule is that we only use rhomboid inserts such as CNMG and DNMG for small finishing cuts.

    When asked more about the educational process, changing the strategy and considering the inserts, Peter says: “This is not about replacing carbide with ceramics. You really do have to start from scratch, and we must educate the customer as well. This is because there are things in addition to the programming strategies that need to be looked at, such as ensuring that part is suitable to run so fast. Secondly, the part needs to be running in balance as out of balance parts are not conducive to ceramic machining. Additionally, does the machine have enough power and we must gauge coolant pressure and other factors.”

    “When looking at the objectives of carbide, manufacturers look for surface finishes, extended tool life and chip control. With ceramic tooling these factors are not the objective. The objective is all about metal removal.”

    Investigating the Suitable Grades

    “There are three material groups with around 10 different grades available. These are Whisker ceramic, which is the oldest one that people will be familiar with as it has been around for a long time. That consists of aluminium oxide with silicon carbide whiskers that make the insert stronger. These are very good for grooving, flank wear and some other operations. Then you have SiLon insert grades, these are tougher than other grades and can be used for milling, and then you have our brand-new composite material that is not even a ceramic, it is a completely new generation of materials – and this is the Bidemics range.”

    “The Bidemics can apply very high cutting speeds, such as turning Inconel at up to 500m/min. This is a huge change in not only machining strategies, but the resulting productivity gains. The Bidemics series can be transformational, taking hours from cycle times rather than moving from one carbide supplier to another in an exercise that may save minutes,” concludes Peter Ward.

    https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/16092440/NTK_SX70197-1-640x360.jpg

    NTK’s ceramic tools cut aerospace materials up to 15 times faster

    In a recent MTDCNC interview, Peter Ward from NTK Cutting Tools tells us how ceramic cutting tools from the Japanese cutting tool manufacturer can improve productivity in the aerospace industry – machining at speeds and feeds up to 15 times faster than conventional carbide.

    When asked by Giovanni Albanese why the industry should be turning to ceramics, Peter explained: “The main reason to use ceramic tooling stems from its physical properties when compared to carbide. One key property is that they retain their hardness at high temperatures, which means we can use much higher and elevated cutting speeds. If you talk about how much faster, you can be looking at 10 to 15 times faster. Where you may be turning Inconel at 50 to 100m/min with carbide, we have jobs running up to 500m/min with ceramic, making it a transformational choice.”

    With ceramic tooling set to save manufacturers hours rather than minutes on cycle times, why isn’t everyone adopting this technology? “There are a few reasons, maybe education is the first. Secondly, some people may have had a bad experience and thirdly, the application must be correct for ceramic tools. We can’t machine everything, and the machine tool and application must be correct to adopt ceramic tooling. This demonstrates there are a number of factors that have to come together for manufacturers to really hit the productivity levels.”

    Gio continued to ask Peter that if an aerospace manufacturer wanted to adopt ceramic tooling to improve processes, would it be a completely new process? Peter said: “Normally, yes. The way to successfully use ceramics means that you must change the programming styles, as they are completely different to carbide strategies. There are three or four rules that must be followed, but this is not complicated. Ceramic tooling programming is very simple, as it is largely based around the second rule of ceramics and that is that they have a low breaking strength. So, all programming has to be around avoiding shock loading.”

    So, what are the rules for using ceramics?

    Peter continues: “The rules to using ceramic are all based around protecting against shock loading. So, in the instance of turning a turbine ring, we would prepare the part with pre-chamfering or ramping in to protect the insert. As a guide, only the first insert you use should be going into rough material; subsequent inserts should be working from the initial insert cuts. So, preparing the part is the first rule to consider.”

    “The second factor to consider is the breaking strength. When roughing, we only use very strongly shaped inserts such as round inserts or secondly in the hierarchy would be square inserts with a large radius. The third rule is that we only use rhomboid inserts such as CNMG and DNMG for small finishing cuts.

    When asked more about the educational process, changing the strategy and considering the inserts, Peter says: “This is not about replacing carbide with ceramics. You really do have to start from scratch, and we must educate the customer as well. This is because there are things in addition to the programming strategies that need to be looked at, such as ensuring that part is suitable to run so fast. Secondly, the part needs to be running in balance as out of balance parts are not conducive to ceramic machining. Additionally, does the machine have enough power and we must gauge coolant pressure and other factors.”

    “When looking at the objectives of carbide, manufacturers look for surface finishes, extended tool life and chip control. With ceramic tooling these factors are not the objective. The objective is all about metal removal.”

    Investigating the Suitable Grades

    “There are three material groups with around 10 different grades available. These are Whisker ceramic, which is the oldest one that people will be familiar with as it has been around for a long time. That consists of aluminium oxide with silicon carbide whiskers that make the insert stronger. These are very good for grooving, flank wear and some other operations. Then you have SiLon insert grades, these are tougher than other grades and can be used for milling, and then you have our brand-new composite material that is not even a ceramic, it is a completely new generation of materials – and this is the Bidemics range.”

    “The Bidemics can apply very high cutting speeds, such as turning Inconel at up to 500m/min. This is a huge change in not only machining strategies, but the resulting productivity gains. The Bidemics series can be transformational, taking hours from cycle times rather than moving from one carbide supplier to another in an exercise that may save minutes,” concludes Peter Ward.