Partnering opportunity

Evaluation and test partners sought for specialist cutting tools for machining advanced alloys in aerospace, medical, oil & gas and automotive industries

Summary

This UK SME specialist tooling manufacturer develops cutting tools for machining advanced alloys across various industrial sectors. These cutters are usually used for finishing operations at the final stages of production and are expected to provide specific quality requirement. The SME seeks evaluation partners to further test the tools allowing optimisation in the production process in novel machining environments. Reciprocal technical cooperation agreement or research cooperation is sought.

Partner sought

The UK SME is looking for manufacturing companies machining any of the materials referred to in the description who would be prepared to provide end user testing of end mills, drills or thread mills over an extended period of time to validate the project results. Manufacturers will be seeking specialist cutting tools for machining advanced alloys in industries such as aerospace, medical, oil & gas and automotive. Partners will need to be willing and able to provide information on pre-agreed tool performance criteria during the machining process. Information on the machining process would also be needed including: machine used, tool holding, fixturing, cooling technique and machining strategy as these are all critical factors in the performance of cutting tools. Ideally the partner would be interested in continuing as a customer provided the validation tests proved beneficial and cost comparison is favourable. In addition the SME is keen to explore potential academic partners to continue the research and development or apply the methodology to different materials.

Description

The UK SME specialises in manufacturing high end special cutting tools/services to distributors or end users for a large range of industry sectors including aerospace, medical, automotive, oil and gas and general engineering. With more than 25 years of experience the team possesses substantial knowledge of manufacturing cutting tools and own state-of-the-art machining equipment with very high accuracy. They have significant experience working with high profile engineering, manufacturing and automotive clients and in undertaking collaborative research and development projects with industry and academia. To meet market demand for specialised cutting tools for machining advanced alloys across various industrial sectors, the SME developed/designed cutting tools based on material properties and material micro-structure which can be extended from one material to another through mathematical modelling. These cutters are usually used for finishing operations at the final stages of production and are expected to provide specific quality requirements. Development work has been undertaken in close collaboration with a UK University so that rigorous testing of tool designs has been undertaken with results analytically modelled for optimisation. The tooling developed has been designed based on synchronised application of theoretical, analytical and experimental knowledge to ensure cohesive design. The research conducted has proved that small changes in tool geometry can have a massive impact on tool performance. Therefore tools designed for specific materials will outperform tools that are produced for general material groups. Further research also proved that specific material properties, tool coating properties, cooling techniques and machining strategy will further improve tool performance. The following tools have been developed: Milling cutters, drills and thread mills for machining alloys (aerospace, medical and oil & gas industries) including: • aluminium • stainless steel • titanium alloys • duplex steels • Inconel • Advanced Materials (AM) titanium • Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) • Composites The UK SME now requires evaluation partners specialised in manufacturing advanced materials to test the tools in an industrially relevant environment. Partners who can perform extended testing in industrial scenarios to validate the results of comparative testing already completed. In addition, academic partners in the field of engineering are of interest to continue the research and development or apply the methodology to different materials. Cooperation is anticipated under either research or technical cooperation agreement basis.

Advantages and innovations

Tests undertaken have shown the following performance improvement over existing competitors: • Drill performance increase of 168% – average number of holes drilled 360 compared to 134. • End mill performance increase 365%– tool life in minutes, 121 compared to 26. • Drill performance increase in Inconel 11% - average number of holes drilled 68 compared to 61 The design of cutting tools requires significant knowledge of machining science. A combination of mechanical, thermal and chemical interactions between cutting tool, cutting chips and workpiece materials, results in tool failure which is unique for each material and machining environment. Understanding the tool failure mechanism, chemical reaction between cutting tool and workpiece materials, behaviour of the coating, tribology of cutting and surface integrity and morphology of the workpieces to make informed design decisions requires significant knowledge of machining science. Compiling experimental results for mathematical equations for modelling machining information, optimisation and extending the data to other tools and materials require innovative thinking and competency. Identifying the behaviour of various materials and the effect of individual geometrical features on the tribology and physics of material cutting is challenging. Therefore design and optimisation of multi-input problems, such as cutting tool design, requires a robust scientific methodology that ensures complete data capture, validity, repeat-ability and reproducibility whilst minimising experimental runs. The tooling developed has been designed based on synchronised application of theoretical, analytical and experimental knowledge to ensure cohesive design.

Development stage

Available for demonstration

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Other


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