How Cutting Tool Technology Helps Lights-Out Machining Applications?

How Cutting Tool Technology Helps Lights-Out Machining Applications?

Laura Davis, Manufacturing Technology Insights | Monday, April 05, 2021

Industry 4.0 link, specialized production features, new materials and coatings, high-quality tool holders, and high-pressure coolant will all benefit from lights-out applications.

FREMONT, CA: As stores look to increase capacity, they gradually resort to lights-out machining instead of adding equipment, workers, or shifts. By using the overnight and weekend hours for manufacturing components without an operator present, shops can get more production out of their existing machines. Yet unattended machining can be risky—if a computer or cutting tool breaks with no one around to cope immediately with the problem, the consequences may be expensive.

Cutting tools must be reliable, with a predictable, long tool life to be suitable for lights-out machining; there are no supervisors available to verify if cutting tools are broken and, if necessary, repair them. When constructing an unattended machining process, shops can resolve this need by installing a tool management system and new cutting tool technologies. Industry 4.0 link, specialized production features, new materials and coatings, high-quality tool holders, and high-pressure coolant will all benefit from lights-out applications.

The following five-tool features reflect developments and essential concerns for shops as they step toward lights-out machining.

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Self-Adjusting Cutting Tools

Self-adjusting cutting tools have ultimate process security. These instruments use data from in-process measuring devices (for example, touch probes, in-process bore gages, and off-line measurement systems) to dynamically change the instrument's cutting edge and ensure that the components stay intolerant without user interference.

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Cutting Tool Design Features Improve Stability, Boost Chip Evacuation

Certain design elements can also help to enhance the stability and life of cutting instruments. Insert thickness and embedding can minimize chatter and increase stability, while chip breakers can help separate chips and heat from the cutting tool, which can help improve process security.

Tool Cutting Fabrics and Coatings

In the case of unattended machining, shops must also consider the materials and coatings of the cutting tools. Cutting tools that have materials and coatings tailored for workpiece material can tolerate improved heat and wear, improving tool life.

Toolholder

Shops can also take another look at their tool holders in the lights-out machining process. Toolholders may have a significant effect on tool life by reducing chatter and run-off and preserving equilibrium.

High-Pressure Coolant

High-pressure coolant may also be used for light-out machining processes. It can also help boost tool life by cooling the cutting zone and flushing the chips out of the cut.

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