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This article originally appeared in the May 2013 / Volume 65 / Issue 5 of Cutting Tool Engineering titled "Evolving toward digital" By Matt Tegelman, BIG Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc.
Boring tools with a digital readout aren’t the standard in U.S. shops, but their use is growing.Think about the number of digital equipment interfaces and interactions an operator has when machining.
Machine operators use keypads and computers to run tooling programs and measure parts with digital gages and coordinate measuring machines. By definition, CAD/CAM work is accomplished digitally. Machine tool controls have digital displays. On most tool presetters—even simple ones without a vision system—the readout is digital. Bore gages are digital, whether it’s an air gage or a three-point-contact gage. There are still a few old-timers who trot out ID micrometers once in awhile, but most measurement devices are digital for speed and accuracy.
Analog readout technology isn’t dead because it’s still highly effective for the majority of low- to medium-level tolerance operations. Few shops have yet to make the switch to digital boring across the board, and it will be a long time before more do so on a regular basis. Digital boring heads cost 60 to 80 percent more than their analog counterparts.
That said, as old boring heads need replacement and more operators become accustomed to the advantages of digital boring adjustments, there eventually will be a turning point in some operations where it makes sense to go all digital. This change won’t happen just because it’s the direction of the industry.
Don’t Sacrifice PerformanceIf a shop is considering moving from analog to digital boring tools, the best conversions are those that can be accomplished without having to replace any accessories—simple one-for-one boring head trade-offs. Still, ask questions to ensure this is the case with your shop. Users can defeat the purpose of digital ease of use if the head isn’t a 1:1 replacement and additional programming or tinkering is necessary when converting to digital.
For instance, Kaiser’s 112 EWD, 310 EWD and 318 EWD digital boring heads are otherwise identical to their analog predecessors. They have the same boring ranges, cutting parameters and through-coolant capabilities, so an operator can swap an analog for a digital model with little or no reprogramming. All three series use the same accessories, such as boring bars and insert holders, as their nondigital counterparts.
Despite the obvious advantages of digital, the technology isn’t yet for everyone. But as manufacturing and technology continue to become more and more entrenched in the digital realm, there will be a tipping point after which digital boring is the norm. Some shops will just be ahead of the curve. CTE
About the Author: Matt Tegelman is the Kaiser product manager for BIG Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc., Hoffman Estates, Ill. For more information about the company’s boring tools and other products, call (888) TOOL-PRO or visit www.bigkaiser.com.
Digital boring heads from Big Kaiser were designed to be a simple 1:1 match to their analog predecessors - same boring ranges, cutting parameters, and through-tool coolant capabilities - so an operator can swap an analog for a digital model with little or no reprogramming. Just like your cell phone or computer, it won't be long until you wonder how you ever lived without a digital interface.
Make the leap to digital technology.
All too often, shops invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a new machining center to increase production, when they could accomplish the same thing with existing machinery at a fraction of the cost. Many machines cut metal less than 50% of the time during working hours— even less in a flexible manufacturing environment where part runs are generally short. For the rest of the time, these machines sit idle while their operators are setting up tools in the spindle. Instead of purchasing an additional CNC machining center, a shop can invest in equipment that allows it to set up tools outside the machine, so the spindle can make chips while the next tool is being adjusted and prepared.
Presetters measure the cutting edges of your tools to assure they precisely match job specifications and are ready to be used in the machine. Adjustments that could take up to 15 minutes when made on your machine can be made offline in less than a minute on a presetter, while your machine continues cutting.
The result - better parts, longer tool life, and less spindle downtime.
Our blog section is written by several different people. Sometimes, it from our team here at Next Generation Tooling at other times it's by one of the wonderful manufacturer's we represent in California and Nevada