Friday, October 27, 2017

Teaching the Techies: 3 Tips for Educating Technical Professionals

All students learn differently, and nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to teaching engineers, techies and other students who fall under the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) umbrella. Tailored teaching approaches ensure that students retain information and gain the confidence to implement what they’ve learned. And as these students enter and progress in their chosen fields, these educational methodologies provide a platform for continued learning. Here are three ways to help your students/trainees prosper and succeed in the classroom and in the world beyond:

1. Find Out What Moves Them

For example, consider machinists in training programs. Since the prospect of abundant and lucrative employment opportunities will likely motivate them, you can emphasize how the subject matter being taught will help the students become more valuable to potential employers. And while new cutting tool technologies and how they will benefit production operations may be what motivates a group of shop engineers in a cutting tool training class, future cutting tool distributors and salespeople in that same class may be more interested in how they can more effectively sell these new products to their customers. Learn why your students are in your classroom and use that knowledge to keep them engaged.

2. Go Greek

Engineers and other technical professionals report being more likely to grasp the subject matter once they comprehend the logic behind the new information and they realize the immediate cause and effect of implementation. Given that, one strategy for reaching these students is the long-established and popular Socratic method, which teaches through a series of questions that show students the ways in which the new information logically builds on what they already know while challenging them to continually reach for the next step. While many associate the Socratic method with law school, education experts have argued that it’s particularly well-suited for teaching scientific subjects. As students take ownership of the lesson, they prove to themselves the usefulness of the new information, making it an excellent fit for technical types.

3. Get Physical

The kinesthetic method – or as it’s more commonly known, hands-on learning – is another great way to reach STEM students. To apply this method to teaching about cutting tool innovations, for instance, you can have students implement the information they just learned by running the tools on live machines. The students experience immediate results and can then tweak the cutting parameters through trial and error in a risk-free setting. This process builds their confidence and increases the likelihood that they will be successful in continuing to use their newly acquired skills and knowledge. Obviously, this teaching method requires access to the necessary tools or machinery, but advanced simulation software and portable simulation systems can mimic machine behavior and provide students with the same experience they would have if they were actually in front of a real machine.

About the Author
Don is the manager of education and technical services for Seco, responsible for all educational activ

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ten Steps to Peak Performance and Productivity

To remain competitive and profitable, you continually seek the most economical and productive ways to accomplish your work. Unfortunately, unless you’re a global industrial giant, you may feel that productivity improvements are out of reach. But quite the opposite is true.  There are many ways to take control of operational improvements and optimize your shop practices without breaking the bank, and ten of them are listed here.

1. Intelligent budget control
A common approach to budgeting in metalworking operations is to acquire every element of the process at the lowest price possible. However, it is best not to base your shop’s tool selection on price alone. Before discussing prices, consider the desired end results. If a tight-tolerance, top-quality part is the goal, more-expensive precision tooling will be required to machine it. On the other hand, when quality demands are less stringent, a portion of the capabilities of high-precision tools will be wasted. Recognizing the ultimate goal of the process is the first step in cost-effective purchasing decisions.

2. Intelligent handling of constraints
Real-world metalworking operations are bound by practical constraints that include machine power and stability and customer demands in terms of dimensions and surface finish quality. Simply reducing your cutting parameters overall is not an intelligent way to deal with process constraints. The combination of decreasing depths of cut and increasing feedrate, for instance, can improve your shop’s productivity within the constraint of limited machine power.

3. Tool application rationalization
Typically, shops make tool application choices one operation at a time, choosing a specific tool to create a certain feature on a part then picking another tool to machine another different feature. Each tool is programmed and optimized separately, representing separate programming and administrative costs. An alternative is a specialized custom tool that cuts multiple features, but these tools can be expensive.

Between these two extremes, shops could opt for a standard tool engineered to perform more than one operation. Even if such multi-purpose tools do not operate at the optimized cutting parameters of the separate tools they replace, the standard multi-purpose tool provides savings in tooling, programming, tool change time and inventory costs.

4. Complex workpiece approach (group technology)
To expedite the machining of complex parts, view similar features as a group and choose a tool optimized for a certain operation, such as holemaking, that is repeated on different parts. The optimized tool will maximize productivity and also reduce cost when considering the engineering time that goes into repetitively programming tools for each separate part. This approach also helps reduce your tool inventory.

5. Achieving minimal functional workpiece quality
Although initially the concept may seem strange, it is necessary to achieve only the lowest possible workpiece quality that meets your customer specifications and functional requirements. There is no need to exceed those requirements. If a part tolerance is 5 microns, achieving 3 microns is a waste of time and money. Higher quality tooling and more precise operating processes will be required to achieve the tighter tolerance.  But customers will refuse to pay for such unrequested higher quality, and the job will be a money-losing proposition for your shop.

6. Predictive tool maintenance
Traditional tool maintenance is reactive. When a tool wears out or breaks, it is replaced. That approach, however, generates costs beyond those of the tool itself, including manufacturing process downtime and possible damage to the workpiece. Preventive tool maintenance is a step beyond reactive maintenance and is based on replacing the tool before it reaches its shortest expected working life to be sure that the change is made before the tool wears out too much or breaks.

7. Tool inventory control
Tool inventory control is different than tool management. Tool inventory control is an effort to rationalize and consolidate the number of tools your shop possesses to focus on what is really needed. If tools are not rationalized before being loaded into an automated tool dispenser, the result is simply automated disarray.

8. Practical work analysis
Many shop activities needed for the production of a finished workpiece do not directly add value. These include fixturing the workpiece on the machine and writing the machining program. Such non-value-added tasks should be completed as fast as possible and in a way that minimizes their effect on your total cost of production. Automation can accomplish tasks such as part loading and fixturing and save time and money. When analysing work activities and costs, it is essential to consider all the contributors to part production time.

9. Practical application of optimization
Rarely does a process work exactly as planned, and it is at this point where optimization of the operations in terms of speed, reliability and other factors is necessary. Most shops also seek to improve ongoing processes. Practical optimization enables your shop to find technical and economic benefits in a combination of feed, speed and depth of cut that produces the desired results.

10. Intelligent introduction of new technology
Today’s manufacturers face a range of relatively new challenges including mandates for sustainability and environmental protection. Intelligent introduction of new technologies and processes enables your shop to fulfil these challenges. Dry machining, for example, permits your facility to reduce the use of coolants, which in turn reduces the potential effects of the fluids on the environment, as well as the cost of safely disposing of them. Improving process parameters and production tooling performance will result in measureable savings in energy expenditures.

About the Author
Don is the manager of education and technical services for Seco, responsible for all educational activities for the NAFTA market, new product testing and various other technical functions. Outside of work, he enjoys making maple syrup, restoring antique tractors and farming.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Modern Manufacturers Need More Brains Than Brawn

One of the biggest problems today’s manufacturers face is the shortage of good machinists and skilled technicians. As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, companies find it tough to fill positions that require high skill sets.

Hordes of baby boomers in the manufacturing sector continue to retire, and they leave behind myriads of open jobs. Unfortunately, most young people show zero interest in such a career path and instead buy into the myth that a four-year college is the only way to get ahead in life.  

Although today’s manufacturing companies are a major source of high-tech innovation, wealth creation and plenty of high-paying careers, the industry still suffers from a negative image of “working the line.”  To change this mindset, Seco has created a proactive, comprehensive internship program to educate students about future manufacturing career opportunities as well as help them gain real-world experience. The company’s program targets college-level students.

In a partnership with Ferris State University (FSU) in Big Rapids, Michigan, Seco offers local area engineering students an opportunity to participate in a multi-year internship program. It invites the top three engineering applicants to participate for an initial first year internship. Then, based on their interest and performance, the students are potentially asked back for a second year. Once a student graduates from the program, Seco often presents an offer of employment at one of its several U.S. locations.

Under the guidance of seasoned mentors, Seco interns experience a combination of classroom training and real-world business experience while earning their degree at FSU. The first-year interns take part in technical training and the development of custom tooling. They will also learn to further develop their machining skills by utilizing advanced machining technologies and accompany Seco applications specialists on outside customer calls. All these facets of the program ensure students receive a comprehensive overview of all their potential areas of interest.

During their second year, interns are often sent out-of-state to shadow an experienced sales rep and make professional sales calls for on-the-job experience. Students participating in the sales portion of the internship program are paid competitive wages during the internship and receive assistance with housing placement and living expenses. Seco also provides a company car to all second-year students.

In light of its company-wide “family spirit” values, Seco ensures that students/interns are taken care of and have all the tools they need to succeed.  Because Seco takes care of everything, the students’ parents don’t worry about their son or daughter moving to a new city and having to locate and pay for housing or, in the case second-year sales program students, a car either.

Seco’s internship program has been in place for several years, and feedback has been extremely positive. The majority of students who complete the program end up working for Seco, and it has placed second year students all over the country from South Carolina to Texas and California.  Most of these students will have a job offer from Seco before they even graduate.

It’s a win-win model that benefits everyone. Students receive an education with the promise of a great career, and Seco gains skilled job candidates that know their job before they even join the payroll.

Visit Seco at FSU’s Career Fair this fall
Engineering students interested in securing an internship with Seco should plan to
Visit the Seco booth at FSU’s Career Fair to be held this October. Inquiries may also be directed to Andrew Nalian via Email at:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Add Some High Performance to Your Optimized Roughing

By Jay Ball - Product Manager, Solid Carbide End Mills

Conventional optimized roughing strategies call for shallow radial stepovers and high depths of cut with multi-flute cutting tools. Now, imagine how much more productive the strategy would be if it were possible to up those stepovers to as much as 70 percent of the cutting tool’s diameter. With today’s innovative continuously variable geometry end mills, such stepovers are possible and standard operating procedure for a new version of the strategy referred to as high-performance optimized roughing (HPOR) that also requires high-performance machine tools and toolholders as well as specialized CAM software.

Much like high-feed tools, continuously variable geometry end mills perform best when they are fully loaded in the cut as opposed to lightly loaded. Therefore, the radial stepovers of 12 percent or less of a tool’s diameter typically used in optimized roughing prove much too shallow to work well for optimized roughing with these advanced end mills – such as the Niagara Cutter Stabilizer 2.0 – that operate best with stepovers of at least 20 percent or more of the tool’s diameter.

To handle such high stepovers, these new age end mills sport robust core designs and a high heat and abrasion resistant AlTiN coating. At such aggressive stepovers, chip evacuation is key and having the right combination of core diameter and flute spacing is crucial to a tools optimal performance.

But what really makes Stabilizer 2.0 so strong is its patented continuously variable geometry that eliminates detrimental harmonics and chatter vibrations. Other conventional end mills are unable to withstand such depths of cut and metal removal rates and will most likely fail if a shop tries to use them for HPOR.

With the Stabilizer 2.0 geometry, each of the tool’s cutting edges varies from front to back and differs from the one next to it. Additionally, each of the tool’s four flutes are spaced at different degrees from one another instead of evenly at 90 degrees apart. The helix, radial relief, radial clearance and indexing are all varied. And, any given point along the cutting edge of each flute is different from another point on that same flute as well as varies from any points on the other three flutes.

In addition to the cutting tools themselves, machine tools must have heavy-duty high-torque and high-horsepower spindles such as CAT 50, HSK100A and HSK125A. HPOR can be performed on lighter duty machine tools with CAT 40 and HSK63A spindles, but caution must be used not to overload or max out the machine’s horsepower capabilities. With such strong forces in play from the machine tool spindle, toolholding must be equally rigid to minimize runout, and standard side-lock holders with set screws or heavy-duty mill chucks are the best choices. Most shrinkfit holders and collets lack the ability to hold variable geometry tools in place under such high-powered cutting conditions.

Currently, HPOR is mainly used in European markets, but shops in North America are realizing the benefits of this new strategy. In fact, several CAD/CAM software developers have already created the necessary CAM software needed for HPOR.

Because continuously variable geometry end mills, like Stabilizer 2.0, are stronger and better at eliminating harmonics than any of their predecessors, shops can adapt cutting strategies to optimize the new tools’ capabilities. These cutting tools, along with the right machine tools, toolholders and software, can significantly boost a shop’s metal removal rates.

About the Author
Jay has been with Seco for more than 10 years. As a key member of the product management team, he is responsible for Seco’s solid carbide end mill products in North America. He works closely with global R&D on new innovations to ensure they meet the necessary market requirements. He also provides technical support for high-speed hard milling and micro milling operations, including CAD file review, tooling selections and programming recom

Friday, May 26, 2017

Better Chip Control Improves Safety on Shop Floor

Safety is a top priority for shop owners, and we’ve seen significant improvements by our customers in development of workplace safety procedures and better training. As an example, when our sales reps visit your facilities, they are often required to watch a safety video before even going onto the shop floor.

One area of focus in many shops is better chip control. Usually when we think of chips and the problems they cause, surface quality and productivity issues are first to come to mind. But more shop owners are becoming keenly aware of the safety hazards chips cause and understand that the best form of precaution is to control chip formation.

When machining materials with low amounts of carbon, such as mild-steel and austenitic stainless steel, it’s common for long, stringy chips to form and tangle around the tool and workpiece forming “bird nests.” Operators must stop the machine to untangle the chips from around the tooling, which can be dangerously sharp. They also must frequently empty chip hoppers. Anytime a machine operator reaches into a machine, there is potential for an injury to occur. Alleviating the need to clear chips reduces this risk.

There are several tooling solutions and best practices for dealing with problematic chips. First, let’s look at chip-breaking technology. There is a good selection of chipbreaker insert geometries available today. These effectively control the formation of chips so they break off and move out of the cutting zone. For example, there are finishing chipbreakers that are specially designed for smaller depths of cut less than 0.060" and low feed rates of 0.003"-0.012" in/rev. These chipbreakers are narrow in the front and have a pit or dimple and a very large rake angle at the nose. There are also chipbreakers designed specifically for roughing which typically have negative T-lands for edge strength and for breaking chips at heavier depths of cut.

The important thing to remember when choosing chipbreakers is to match the chipbreaker to the application. To be effective, you must create the right combination of tool geometry, cutting speed, feed rate and depth of cut for the workpiece material.

It’s best to follow the general rule of running cutting tools at their maximum allowable depths of cut to create the more desired comma-shaped chips that break off and quickly evacuate. Smaller depths tend to produce spiral-shaped chips, which don’t behave as nicely.

Likewise, chip breaking can be improved by optimizing the feed rate. In most cases, to ensure ideally shaped chips, the minimum feed rate in turning applications should not be less than the chipbreaker’s recommended feed rate, and the maximum feed rate should not exceed the tool’s nose radius.

Another way to control chips is by using a direct coolant system, which can effectively increase chip removal. Our Jetstream Tooling™ channels coolant directly to the insert through small-diameter apertures to produce an acute high velocity “jet stream” that penetrates the precise friction zone between the cutting edge and the workpiece. The result is superior lubrication, cooling and chip removal.

As you search for ways to improve safety on your shop floor, be sure not to overlook your chip control strategies. Contact us to learn more about our assortment of chip control solutions.

About the Author
As product manager for threading and grooving at Seco, Don is responsible for threading, threadmilling, cut-off, grooving and oil field chasers. In his spare time, he enjoys restoring old motorcycles. Contact Don at

Monday, April 17, 2017

Industry Trends Steer Cutting Tool Development

Manufacturing trends – such as the softening or growth of certain industry segments, the use of technologies like 3D printing or processes li
ke near net shape manufacturing – all have direct impacts on cutting tool product development. As a leading cutting tool manufacturer, we strive to not only keep pace with the natural progression of the industry, but also to set new standards in tool development and performance.

Aerotek, a leading provider of industrial staffing services, recently released its second annual list of “Opportunities in Manufacturing” that includes the top 10 fast growing U.S. industries for manufacturing employment. Topping the list is Oil and Gas Field Machinery Equipment with seven percent employment growth in 2015-2016, which coincides with a recent uptick in activity from our oil and gas customers who have shown increased interest in our patented long reach Steadyline® shell mill holders. These tools excel at reaching difficult-to-access machining areas, such as large, complex workpieces and deep cavities, and oil and gas manufacturers use them for pipe and coupling manufacturing.

High-performance threading solutions are another need for customers in the oil and gas industry. We recently introduced new Thread Chaser inserts for pitch-perfect threading. The inserts provide the speed, reliability, accuracy and precision gauging of threads needed to meet the demanding requirements of the oil and gas industry and other industry segments requiring special threads such as API and common licensed thread types.

The versatile Thread Chaser tool features inserts for both push and pull threading of ID features and push for OD threading using multi-tooth patterns for fast two-pass threading. The system’s multi-tooth inserts have precise thread patterns that quickly and reliably generate high-accuracy, consistently perfect thread pitches for couplings and pipe materials in a wide range of hardness.

Thread Chaser inserts increase productivity by reducing threading passes and decreasing cycle time. The tools use a special substrate and coating, and feature through-coolant holes and chip formers to direct high-pressure (up to 210 bar) coolant precisely to cutting edges to optimize chip formation/evacuation and extend insert life. Inserts are available in push or pull and push sets of one, two or three sets on pipe to accommodate various thread machine types.

In addition to the development of new tool technology to meet these types of specialized needs, we are continuing to meet the needs created by the use of different materials in new applications. Sticking with the oil and gas industry for illustration, manufacturers are now switching from steel to stainless steel in the manufacturing of the giant valves in fracking pumps to extend the life of the valves.

This change means more opportunities for the development of products featuring our Duratomic® technology which achieves the elusive balance of toughness and hardness when machining steel alloys and other workpiece materials such as cast irons and stainless steels.

Duratomic technology has been proven to improve productivity by at least 20 percent in average turning applications. Furthermore, it features an innovative used-edge detection technology that uses an approximately 0.1┬Ám-thick chrome-colored coating that clearly identifies a used insert edge when black aluminum oxide shows through. These high-contrast used-edge marks allow operators on busy shop floors to easily spot them and do not impact tool performance or machining-related parameters such as cutting data. As a result, manufacturers can process more parts per edge, limit production interruptions and reduce waste.

These are just a few examples of how we are at the forefront of cutting tool development. In addition to responding to current market trends with more advanced cutting tools, we also provide custom design services to meet customers’ unique needs. So, whatever your tooling need, please give us a call. We’d love to help you find the right solution.

About the Author
As product manager for threading and grooving at Seco, Don is responsible for threading, threadmilling, cut-off, grooving and oil field chasers. In his spare time, he enjoys restoring old motorcycles. Contact Don at

Monday, April 3, 2017

3 Benefits of Peel & Thread Tool Technology

By Don Halas, Product Manager - Threading & MDT

More manufacturers are turning to systems that combine multiple operations to shave time from part production and become more profitable. The increased prevalence of multi-tasking machines means there is also need for new tooling.

One refined and enhanced tool that facilitates multi-tasking is an innovative “peel and thread” holder that both tapers and threads in one simultaneous pass on a turning machine.

It works by incorporating a turning insert followed by a threading insert, both within the same holder. While each of the tool’s operations is relatively simple, performing them simultaneously offers several benefits.

1.   Shortens Cycle Times
Conventional methods of tapering and threading pipe and couplings are time-consuming. They involve first turning the taper followed by cutting the threads. The peel and thread process, on the other hand, performs both ID and OD threading. Peeling is mainly used to create the slight tapers needed when processing parts that require tapered threads. Tapered threads create fluid-tight seals, while straight threads often fail to pull mating parts together tight enough to prevent leaks.

Our peel and thread holder reduces the number of passes necessary to finish tapered pipes and couplings, so it shortens cycle times by up to 30 percent when compared with traditional separate turning and threading. As proof, one of our customers that produces between 10,000 and 12,000 couplings daily was able to increase production by 20 percent after switching to peel and thread technology.

2.   Optimizes Chip Evacuation
Chip control can be an issue when threading due to the direction of chip flow. In conventional turning and threading machine programs, the tool moves toward the chuck, which tends to deposit chips in the tool path and can easily damage the finished piece.

Peel and thread programs reverse the cutting direction. The tool starts cutting threads close to the chuck and moves away from it as the threading pass progresses which effectively directs chips away from the cutting zone and into the bed of the machine.

3.   Facilitates Lights-Out Threading Operations
Better chip control that results from using a peel and thread strategy opens the door for lights-out threading operations. It also eliminates the need for manual intervention, which improves safety on your shop floor.

At Seco, we’re always working to develop new tools that can help you boost production, improve part quality, enhance safety and increase profitability. We are very proud of this new tool holder because it makes make it very easy to apply the novel peel and thread strategy. The only additional hardware required is the holder itself. Beyond that, you simply must apply extremely fast feedrates – typically 0.15 inch per revolution – or keep the same feed rate as threading, because you will essentially be using a finishing operation as opposed to a roughing one.

To learn more about this tool holder or any of our other products, contact us.

About the Author
As product manager for threading and grooving at Seco, Don is responsible for threading, threadmilling, cut-off, grooving and oil field chasers. In his spare time, he enjoys restoring old motorcycles. Contact Don at

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Machine Operator Training Increases Productivity, Reduces Costs

By Don Graham, Manager of Education and Technical Services

These days, manufacturers are searching every nook and cranny in their organizations for ways to reduce costs. For example, our customers want toolholders, insert grades and geometries that perform better, and they want them at a lower cost. While the latest advancements in cutting tools and machining techniques deliver increased productivity, better surface finishes and longer tool lives, manufacturers can also maximize machining efforts and reduce costs through machine operator education.

Modern machines make programming many machining processes easier, but the best productivity is achieved by well-trained operators who understand the basics of turning, milling, and holemaking as well as when to use different types of cutters. A good understanding of why they are doing what they are doing, as well as what to listen for and what to look for when operating a machine can help operators proactively avert problems before they arise. Ultimately, this knowledge helps increase productivity and reduce costs by decreasing scrap rates and rework.

At Seco, we regularly host free training courses at our North American Headquarters in Troy, Michigan as part of our Seco Technical Education Program (STEP). Courses are designed to cover the latest tooling systems and metal cutting techniques as well as customer-specific requirements, so that machine operators, manufacturing engineers, programmers, and company owners can begin to understand the simplest way to choose the correct tooling and machining strategy.

We offer three levels of training. STEP Into is a four-hour course that is ideal for those with little or no metal cutting experience. Attendees get an introduction to our Navigator product catalog as well as basic manufacturing and metal cutting vocabulary. This course is not a prerequisite to STEP 1, but it can assist in gaining the full benefit of STEP 1 training.

STEP 1 is a three-day program that introduces tooling and machining technology, including ISO/ANSI standards, turning, milling, holemaking, thread milling, workpiece materials, carbide metallurgy, analyzing tool life and understanding productivity. STEP 1 is a prerequisite for attending STEP 2 training.

STEP 2 is also a three-day program, but it provides a more advanced look at machining techniques and tooling systems, including 3D milling, 3D milling tools, optimum turning, PCBN tooling, Capto quick change and solid carbide tooling. In-depth hands-on instruction, trouble-shooting and problem solving play an important role in the program.

Operator training through STEP can help your shop achieve maximum machining productivity and lower costs. We offer the training for free, however, participants are responsible for their hotel and travel expenses. Once registered, we will make your hotel arrangements. We also provide daily transportation between the hotel and Seco headquarters as well as outgoing airport ground transportation.

To learn more about STEP and register for upcoming classes, please click here. Classes fill up quickly and registration deadlines are subject to seating availability.

About the Author
Don is the manager of education and technical services for Seco, responsible for all educational activities for the NAFTA market, new product testing and various other technical functions. Outside of work, he enjoys making maple syrup, restoring antique tractors and farming.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Six Tips for Effective Optimized Roughing

By Jay Ball - Product Manager, Solid Carbide End Mills

Optimized roughing can be highly effective for machining part features such as pockets with challenging corners as well as any straight walls that require long axial depths of cuts. In fact, this strategy enables you to machine pockets three to four times faster than conventional methods while also dramatically extending the life of your tools. For example, under the right conditions, optimized roughing allows cutting tools to last up to 8 hours when machining titanium, as opposed to 30 minutes of tool life using conventional cutting methods.

However, achieving the best possible results with today’s optimized roughing strategy does require adhering to a few specific guidelines.

1. Adjust radial stepovers
An optimized roughing strategy typically employs multi-flute tools with anywhere from five to nine flutes. As the number of flutes increases, the size of the stepover must decrease to maintain surface finish at faster feed rates as well as accommodate for the decrease in chip spacing. If the stepover is too large, feed rates need to be lowered, which generates more heat due to the larger amount of metal removed in each pass. By decreasing the size of the stepover, you can use faster cutting speeds. More passes are necessary to remove the same amount of material, but the metal removal rates are still higher than at slower speeds due to the increased feed rates. This is the main reason optimized roughing makes tools last longer and heightens thermal stability.

2. Use strong, secure toolholders and fixturing
High-precision holders are crucial in optimized roughing. The holder needs similar specifications to those for hard milling, including less than 0.0004" run out. A precise holder ensures the accuracy of the process, whereas a less secure holder will cause undesirable levels of vibration at optimized roughing’s high feed rates. For the same reason, it’s important to use strong workholding fixtures as well.

3. Make sure your machine is capable of performing optimized roughing
Machine tools used for optimized roughing not only need to be able to achieve extremely high feed rates, but they also need to be able process thousands of lines of code in a matter of seconds. This requires advanced look-ahead capabilities and processing systems found in newer machine tools. Rigidity throughout the machine tool from the spindle bearings all the way through to the ball screws ensures smooth cutting, consistent tool life and unsurpassed part quality.

4. Choose a suitable programming method
It is nearly impossible to program an optimized roughing strategy manually. Many companies provide state-of-the-art programming software, but careful consideration must be made when choosing the right software or software add on. Not all software is created equal. For example, a programing software designed only for complex 3D high speed milling may not be able to perform the complex radial moves inside of tight corners to maintain a consistent angle of engagement, which is one of many keys to successful optimized roughing strategies.

5. Select the right depth of cut
We recommend a cutting depth of 2xD for optimized roughing and taking the full length of the cut in one pass. Smaller radial stepovers make such depths of the cut possible. A larger stepover would increase the amount of heat in the cut, which in-turn, will have a negative effect on tool life and performance, so rpm and feed rates must be reduced. However, a cut that is too deep, over 3xD for instance, creates cutting pressures greater than the tool can bear and causes deflection. Some manufactures add chip splitters in these cases to help reduce cutting pressure which, in-turn, reduces cutter deflection and also helps with chip control.

6. Follow recommended cutting parameters from tooling manufacturers
We frequently see customers encounter problems when they rely on the default cutting data recommendations from programming software suppliers instead of those provided by cutting tool suppliers. Tool manufacturers develop specific recommended cutting parameters after meticulous research and years of firsthand experience. They optimize cutting data for the tool’s design, specifications and for specific material groups.

Optimized roughing is an excellent strategy for achieving quality parts and extending tool life, but requires use of the right equipment and cutting parameters. If you are having problems implementing the approach or want to learn more about how to use the strategy to process a part, contact us.

About the Author
Jay has been with Seco for more than 10 years. As a key member of the product management team, he is responsible for Seco’s solid carbide end mill products in North America. He works closely with global R&D on new innovations to ensure they meet the necessary market requirements. He also provides technical support for high-speed hard milling and micro milling operations, including CAD file review, tooling selections and programming recommendations.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Three Reasons to Choose Reaming Over Boring

By Manfred Lenz, Product Manager - Drilling

Holemaking is one of the most common metalworking operations. It’s a critical operation that requires matching the right process with each job to maximize profitability. Boring is often considered the go-to method, but more manufacturers are finding reaming to be a better option in some high volume or high-cost part applications. Here’s why:

1.  Reaming is more consistent.
For some manufacturers – especially those working in exotic materials – consistency is everything. After they have performed numerous operations on an expensive part, the last thing they want is to ruin it on the very last process.

Boring tools and reamers have completely different designs. A boring head is an adjustable tool that consists of a cartridge with an insert. The advantage of this design is that it offers flexibility to use one tool in multiple operations or on different sized parts. This flexibility is often perceived to make the tool more economical, but because the inserts wear – which then leads to inconsistent holes sizes – this type of system can actually result in higher end costs.

A reamer, on the other hand, is a solid tool with a set dimension designed to deliver single digit RAs and micro finishes. It has a lead angle, a diameter, back taper, and a wiper area. On non-adjustable reamers, nothing on a reamer is moving, so it remains consistent and delivers the same hole size throughout the life of the tool. It also does not require replacement of inserts or adjusting by the operator to bring it back to size – which is subject to human error.

Reamers also have an extremely predictive tool life. A machinist using an air gauge to measure parts throughout the manufacturing process can see when it’s nearing time to change the tool and put in a new one before a problem arises. Then, once the reamer is changed, the new reamer will produce a good hole on the very first part.

One of our automotive customers that runs 15 million of the same part per year had been using a boring tool to produce large holes and was frustrated with inconsistency. Holes that were undersized required additional handling to finish bore or hone to size. Holes that were oversized got scrapped. By switching to a reamer, the customer experienced more consistency and eliminated the need for secondary operations and waste.

2.  Reaming reduces scrap.
Reducing scrap becomes especially important when working with very expensive materials. In the aerospace industry, for example, manufacturers often produce lower quantities of parts out of Inconel®, titanium and other high-cost materials. For these manufacturers, using a non-adjustable reaming tool and changing it out more frequently can provide consistent hole sizes throughout the life of the tool and significantly lower scrap ratios.

3.  Reaming can save time.
Unlike a finish boring head, which usually has just one tooth, a reamer will have up to 10 teeth depending on its size. Multiple teeth enable users to use much faster feed rates, and therefore increase productivity over machining with a single tooth tool.

Reaming is also a good choice for materials that cannot withstand high levels of heat and therefore require slower machining and longer cycle times. When it takes four or six times to machine a part out of an exotic as a normal piece of steel, the cost in the part increases exponentially. With that much time invested, it’s important to have a fool proof method in place when the final operation of finishing a hole rolls around.

The bottom line is that reaming offers the big advantage of consistency. Whether you are producing high volumes of parts or small batches of high cost parts, reaming can ensure the process stability and repeatability you need. So, if you have a boring operation that might make sense to switch to reaming, contact us. We can help you decide which process will make you most productive and profitable.

About the Author
Manfred has been with Seco for more than 16 years. In his current role as drilling product manager, he is responsible for every aspect of the company’s drilling products in North America. He works closely with global R&D on new innovations to ensure they meet the market’s tough manufacturing demands. Manfred also supports the Seco sales force by providing them with technical information and cost saving solutions that bring value to customers. In his spare time, he enjoys boating, bowling and golfing.