From toothbrushes to tech: How advanced machining shapes our world
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From toothbrushes to tech: How advanced machining shapes our world

Aug 09, 2023

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High-quality machining tools enhance process reliability, making them a worthwhile investment for mould and die production. However, selecting the right tools based on production needs can be daunting, especially for smaller companies. Machining specialist, Walter, offers extensive support in this domain.

The majority of everyday objects that we use on a daily basis are made of plastic, either in whole or in part — from toothbrushes, smartphones and parts of our clothing, through to TVs, computers or our kitchen equipment. Not to mention the many plastic components that aren't visible but are essential in order for a car to drive or a machine to operate. Most of these are produced using the injection moulding method. The moulds required for this are usually made from hardened or heat-treated tool steel or hardened metals. They are difficult to produce, especially when the tools are more complex. Strong forces impact the machining tools which are used to work on the outlines of the mould and to make channels and supply systems for coolant or hydraulic fluid. This makes process reliability a challenge. Tool breakage, especially when deep-hole drilling, is a typical problem. Signs of tool wear, which quickly appear due to the hardness and toughness of the material, can have a negative impact on the dimensional accuracy and surface quality of the machined part.

Machining tools with a quality that significantly improves process reliability are therefore an investment that pays off, especially in mould and die making, even with smaller quantities. Deadline and quality specifications are met, the costing is appropriate. It's not easy to make the right choice for the requirements and conditions in production. In particular, the small and medium-sized companies that are typical of the industry often lack the time and staff to develop optimum machining strategies. With a dense network of expert advisers, machining specialist Walter offers its customers comprehensive support in this regard. This way, Walter customers can in some cases considerably improve their process reliability and cost-efficiency, especially in problem applications such as deep-hole drilling or when working with extremely brittle materials. Not only do users benefit from the company's more than 100 years of expertise in machining, Walter develops and produces most of the cutting tool materials, geometries and coatings in-house. The experienced engineers can find a solution in next to no time, even for especially complex applications. What's more, Walter special tools are usually ready for users in just two to three weeks — making it possible to handle tight delivery deadlines and changes at short notice.

One of the most difficult operations performed in the manufacture of injection moulds and particularly pivot points — on which multi-component moulds are then mounted — is deep-hole drilling. Many Walter customers have enjoyed success in this application when using the Walter DC 170 Supreme as a pilot drill and as a deep-hole drilling tool up to 30 x DC. The unusual design of its lands places the carbide mass directly behind the cutting corner, i.e. where the greatest cutting force and highest temperature occur. This is how the stability of the drill is increased in precisely the zone that ensures productivity. Even in the case of inclined exits or cross holes, when particularly high mechanical loads are placed on the drill, the Walter DC170 provides reliable operation. The radially located lands dissipate the increased temperature created by the cutting operation into the chip; but there is also the high heat resistance of the drill substrate and the coating: The carbide can accommodate higher temperatures than conventional drills, while the TiAIN/AICrN coating (grade: WJ30EJ) increases the hot hardness of the drill even further. The special orientation of the lands on the drill holds it on line continuously, thereby reducing vibration to a minimum. The result is drilled holes with very high dimensional accuracy and surface quality, setting them far apart from what can be achieved using a conventional method in the same time.

The fittings that are then used to connect the coolant channels to the machine often have to be inserted in the same hardened material. The TC685 Supreme orbital drill thread milling cutter from Walter enables excellent process reliability and the highest possible tool life quantity. The core hole and thread, and the chamfer if necessary, are produced in a single operation. The milling geometry on the face produces stabilising forces in the axial direction. This improves the stability when milling and reduces the deflection. This reduces the need for radius corrections and slows down tool wear significantly. The 15° helix angle and internal coolant from M6 guarantee reliable chip evacuation. This allows even tougher steels and deep threads to be machined reliably.