cutting tool engineering | December 14, 2021
From Rene 41, 718 stainless steel and 625 Inconel to titanium and carbon fiber, the materials used in the aerospace and defense industry sector as well as space exploration continue to present significant toolholding challenges.
Magnifying these challenges are complex workpiece geometries with deep cavities, features that require long tool overhangs, and jobs requiring small-diameter cutters. Toolholding is just as important as the machine that runs it, and sub-par tooling can keep a machine from running at its full potential. For these reasons, shops turn to high-quality, precise toolholding.
Because many of these materials are hard on cutting tools, shops constantly strive for the longest possible tool life. For one shop, the simple switch to a high-precision mechanical-type toolholding system skyrocketed its tool life from machining 100 steel parts per cutter up to 700.Toolholder reduces TIR
When it comes to toolholding, one key to increased cutter life is a holder that provides ultra-low Total Indicated Runout (TIR). The goal is to get as close to zero TIR as possible. With every 0.0001" of TIR reduction, the company says that tool life can increase by upwards of 50%.
Another example when reduced cutter TIR is required are long tool overhangs to reach complex part features in parts that do not provide much clearance. Shops within the Aerospace, Defense and Space Exploration sectors often run cutters as small as 0.128" diameter in a CAT 40 machine tool spindles with the tools hanging out up to 8" from the spindle nose. To achieve TIR of 0.0002" and under in such overhang applications depends almost entirely on the precision of the toolholder.
Part characteristics and features that involve 5-axis machining, such as those typically associated with 3D metal printed parts, compound the risk of cutter runout and breakage. In the Aerospace, Defense and Space Exploration sectors, 3D metal printed parts made from materials such as 718 Inconel and titanium are commonplace, and some of these parts can take as long as 40 hours to produce. Shops have one chance to machine them correctly, and must use toolholders that not only provide low TIR, but also offer the necessary strength and stability.
Cutters create dillemma
In addition to challenging parts, solid ceramic cutters for machining nickel-based and other heat-resistant alloys present a dilemma for shops in the aerospace, defense and space sectors.. Solid ceramic cutters generate significant amounts of heat that can affect the holding integrity of certain types of toolholders. For instance, toolholders that use heat or hydraulics for clamping would be at risk from the higher-than-normal levels of heat generated during machining with ceramic tools. Mechanical-based systems, however, are unaffected by extreme heat.
Beyond the challenges of metal workpieces, those produced from carbon fiber composites also cause issues with tool life and for toolholding. Shops must use tools designed specifically for the materials, which are extremely abrasive. While cutting, these tools force the part material downward and upward simultaneously to prevent delamination of layers.
When holding these tools, maintaining low TIR is once again critical to achieving part quality and the longest-possible tool life, but tool pullout is also a major concern, especially when shops want to run cutters at maximum rpm. To combat this, toolholders need tremendous gripping strength paired with some type of locking tool-retention mechanism.
Because shops cannot use conventional coolant when machining carbon fiber composites, many have incorporated the use of CO2-based cooling systems. These systems use supercritical CO2 not only to cool, but also to lubricate and to evacuate chips. Not all toolholders are suited for CO2 coolant delivery, and with some, tool changeovers can be time consuming as well. Combined with the latest cutting tool technology and the right toolholders, CO2 cooling systems can provide productivity increases in the 70% range.
Compared to shrink-fit toolholding systems, mechanical-based systems offer optimum CO2 delivery and the fastest, easiest tool changeovers. For heat shrink, the delicate ruby nozzles used to deliver the CO2 to cutters would need to be removed prior to heating the holder to change out a tool – a task that can require hours.
Conversely, some mechanical toolholding systems incorporate modified collets specifically for either through-tool or external CO2 cooling that have no effect on tool changeout time. CO2 coolant also can be supplied through modified toolholding collets with 150µm slots that direct coolant around the shank and along the exterior sides of a composite tool.
CO2 cooling offers especially beneficial performance when profiling and drilling carbon fiber composites. Those benefits include dramatic cooling of the cutting tool tip, which reduces wear and extends tool life. Most importantly, however, the tool will cut through the carbon fiber layers much better with fewer, if any, ragged edges.
For drilling, instead of the large through holes used with flood coolant, the holes for CO2 are much smaller, in the 150 to 300 µm range. These tiny holes not only cool the drill but also the material, so the drill makes clean entries and exits. Both internal and external type CO2 toolholders ensure drills cut through the last layer, as opposed to punching through it and leaving ragged edges.
High tool usage rates provide the first indication that a shop may not be using the right toolholding. Regardless of workpiece material or geometry, a shop that runs through many instances of the same tool for one part needs a better toolholder, especially one that is high precision, makes for fast and easy tool changeovers, provides extreme gripping force and, most importantly, delivers near-zero TIR.powRgrip achieves near-zero TIR toolholding
Out-of-balance, poorly manufactured toolholders generate vibration that increases exponentially from the toolholder to the cutting tool tip. So, the longer the cutting tool, the higher the levels of runout. While the complete elimination of TIR and vibration is impossible, the REGO-FIX powRgrip toolholding system reduces both to near-zero levels.
The powRgrip system consists of three basic components – holders, collets and press-fit assembly mounting units. In manual or automatic configurations, the hydraulic press-fit assembly units quickly press collets into holders with up to nine tons of force. The collets have high-precision tapers that match with equally high-precision internal tapers in the holders, all of which creates the system’s extreme levels of transferable torque.
Unlike other clamping systems where heat or hydraulics are used, the powRgrip system uses the mechanical properties of the holder material to generate its tremendous gripping force. Such taper-to-taper collet-holding systems deliver extremely high levels of precision, and as a whole their TIR is typically less than 3µm, which ensures accurate finished parts. Such precision optimizes the machining of complex, critical Aerospace and Defense industry components through the use of high speed cutting (HSC) or high performance cutting (HPC) strategies. The lower the TIR, the less tool vibration, and the less vibration, the longer cutting tools last, which in turn reduces overall tooling costs.
L&T Technology Services | March 08, 2022
L&T Technology Services Limited (BSE: 540115, NSE: LTTS), a leading global pure-play engineering services company, announced that it has been recognized as a Global Preferred Engineering Supplier for European multi-national aerospace major Airbus, under its EMES3 (Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering and Services Strategic Suppliers) program and has been awarded with a multi-year contract.
The result is an outcome of an extensive Airbus Group assessment of LTTS’ capabilities and expertise across Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering and Customer Services domain conducted over a year. The engagement covers all Airbus divisions, subsidiaries and affiliates.
With the EMES3 selection, LTTS has entered into a long-term commitment to provide best in class technology and engineering capabilities to the Airbus Group. LTTS has also scaled up operations across Airbus’ key geographic locations including Toulouse (France), which is poised to become the main R&D Centre of Excellence (CoE), serving LTTS’ wide aerospace customer portfolio, along with LTTS’ strong talent pool of 17,000+ engineers operating out of India and leveraging conventional and digital expertise.
LTTS has been a strategic supplier with Airbus global and its India subsidiary for more than a decade, providing engineering services across verticals like engineering, avionics and digital.
Last year, LTTS was also selected by Airbus to provide technology and digital engineering solutions for Airbus’ Skywise platform as part of the ‘Skywise Partner Program.’ Under this program, LTTS is supporting Airbus’s global customer base of airlines.
LTTS’ offerings to the aerospace sector encompass a wide spectrum of services including Aero Structure & Systems Design, Manufacturing Engineering, Avionics and Software Development, Aero Engine Design, ATM solutions and Airlines & MRO solutions engulfed by its digital solution portfolio which caters to all phases of the aircraft lifecycle.
“Airbus Group is our esteemed customer with whom we have had a decade-long relationship which is further strengthened by our selection as an EMES3 supplier. We are delighted to be selected and look forward to #EngineeringTheChange for Airbus and its ecosystem. The latest empanelment is a true reflection of LTTS being a focused technology organization with a strong engineering DNA stemming from the parent L&T group.”
Amit Chadha, CEO and Managing Director at L&T Technology Services
About L&T Technology Services Ltd
L&T Technology Services Limited (LTTS) is a listed subsidiary of Larsen & Toubro Limited focused on Engineering and R&D (ER&D) services. We offer consultancy, design, development and testing services across the product and process development life cycle. Our customer base includes 69 Fortune 500 companies and 57 of the world’s top ER&D companies, across industrial products, medical devices, transportation, telecom & hi-tech, and the process industries.
Wilkus Architects | January 27, 2022
Unanet, the leading provider of project-based ERP for the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, announced that Wilkus Architects, a leading architecture firm with projects throughout North America, has selected Unanet ERP AE to help it better manage invoicing, employee time, forecast staffing needs, and financial decisions.
Wilkus Architects is a family-owned company founded in 1990 that specializes in retail, commercial, restaurant, and hospitality design and has quickly grown from approximately 30 to 50 employees over the last two years with more than 400 projects a year. This growth and a review of their current invoicing and projection systems exposed the need for a more streamlined, less cumbersome ERP system, especially for accounting, financial management, and forecasting of labor and projects.
"We received excellent referrals for Unanet from engineering and architect firms that gave us confidence in Unanet's capabilities and customer service, As we continue to grow, we are excited about Unanet's ability to provide us with clear and smart business reporting and forecasting across a multitude of variables that we look at to help us forecast and scale effectively."
-Lindsey Wilkus, Wilkus Architects' Chief Financial Officer.
Once implemented, Unanet will give Wilkus Architects a variety of benefits it needs to succeed in growing its business including:
Simplifying time and data entry
Elimination of cumbersome and duplicative invoicing practices across the business and across projects in different states
Specialized reporting and views of business volume by project, state and client.
More than 1,800 architecture, engineering and construction companies like Wilkus Architects select Unanet ERP AE because it has the right mix of functionality and accessibility, while also offering the ability to scale and grow seamlessly. To learn more about Unanet ERP AE please visit https://unanet.com/erp-for-a-e/erp-for-a-e-overview/.
Unanet is a leading provider of project-based ERP and CRM solutions purpose-built for Government Contractors, architecture, engineering, construction, and professional services. More than 3,400 project-driven organizations depend on Unanet to turn their information into actionable insights, drive better decision-making, and accelerate business growth. All backed by a people-centered team invested in the success of your projects, people, and financials. For more information, visit www.unanet.com.
About Wilkus Architects
Wilkus Architects located in Hopkins, Minn. was established in 1990. The firm has completed projects in 49 states, Canada, and the Middle East. The firm specializes in retail, commercial, restaurant and hospitality design. The firm has experienced continuous growth and currently specializes in client interactive projects. As the firm has expanded, its formed relationships with other professionals, and developed expertise to address the myriad planning, design, and construction concerns faced by growing municipalities and corporations. We deliver comprehensive services through project teams created according to your specific needs as a client. In doing so, we offer the stability and state-of-the-art resources of a larger firm, plus the creative atmosphere and personal attention of a small office. http://www.wilkusarch.com.
JS Global | April 21, 2022
Based in metro Washington D.C., Atlantic Design Group (“ADG”) is a design and build firm focused on providing Federal government agencies and commercial customers a highly integrated suite of architecture, engineering, and construction services. ADG primarily serves Federal agencies by providing safeguarding, repair, and maintenance services both domestically and internationally. In acquiring Atlantic Design Group, JS Global is partnering with industry veterans Thanh Pham, Cheryl Stevens, and Craig Moyer who will remain in their leadership roles following the acquisition.
Elie Azar, Managing Director of White Wolf, noted, “We are excited to welcome Atlantic Design Group to the JS Global family. The transaction is highly strategic for both JS Global and Atlantic Design Group as we look forward to providing our combined client base with a more competitive and compelling service offering.”
“We look forward to leveraging ADG’s leading design capabilities across the platform to better serve our clients. Additionally, ADG’s long-standing track record of overseas work with Federal agencies will help enable JS Global to bring its AT/FP services to clients across the globe.”
Joe Simpson, President and Co-Founder of JS Global
Thanh Pham, President and Co-Founder of Atlantic Design Group, added, “We’re thrilled to be joining the JS Global and White Wolf family. As we’ve gotten to know Joe and his team, it’s clear there is incredible alignment in the way we operate and we can’t wait to combine efforts and build our shared vision together.”
About Atlantic Design Group
Atlantic Design Group is metro Washington D.C. based architecture, engineering, and construction firm focused on highly integrated contemporary design for Federal government and commercial projects. ADG is a true design and construction firm focused on locations both domestically and internationally, allowing ADG to be a "one-stop-shop" for clients while offering streamlined channels of communication, efficient design, and shortened periods of performance. ADG's design services include planning, architecture, interior design, civil, structural, MEP, and AT/FP engineering.
About JS Global
JS Global is a Maryland-based government services contractor specializing in the design and build of anti-terrorism and force protection systems. The Company’s core competencies include providing specialty hardened windows, doors and systems designed to minimize the impact of damage to a building’s structural, electrical, and mechanical components during an attack. Capabilities also include construction of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (“SCIFs”) and systems designed to allow building occupants to “shelter in place” during any potential type of threat. JS Global’s staff includes a variety of project managers, electricians, carpenters, and various other highly skilled tradesmen.
About White Wolf
White Wolf is a private investment firm that began operations in late 2011 and is focused on management buyouts, recapitalizations and investments in leading middle market companies. White Wolf seeks both private equity and private credit investment opportunities in companies that are headquartered in North America with $20 million to $200 million in revenues and up to $20 million in EBITDA (smaller for add-ons). Preferred industries include manufacturing, business services, information technology, security, aerospace and defense.