The L:D ratio of a tool assembly is calculated by using the length of the bar (or body) of a tool assembly and the diameter of the tool, not the workpiece bore diameter and depth.
To expand on this concept, we see in the first configuration below the Ø16mm bar is sticking out 160mm which is a 10:1 although the bore is only a 2.5:1.
In some applications this extra reach is needed to get around a fixture or a feature of the part. However, in those cases where it is not needed, decreasing the overhang by 55mm means the new L:D of 105:16 is 6.5:1. This alone would represent approximately 10x increase in cutting speed by increasing from 20mm/min vs. 200mm/min.
The use of modular reductions has also been found to be a good strategy to improve tool performance.
Comparing the lower two assemblies below, the middle assembly uses the same connection size for the length of the tool, ignoring the larger access diameter, and results in a 6.4:1 ratio.
When a shank with a larger connection size is used along with a modular reduction, the ratio is halved, and provides a 350% productivity improvement (14mm/min to 50mm/min).
In all cases, reducing the L:D ratio provides an improvement in speed which then provides longer tool life, better surface finish and size control of the bore.
Charlie Mitchell, machinist for Andretti Autosport, discusses how Unilock pallets reduced his setup time by as much as 80%.
As the title implies adjusting screws, also known as back-up screws, stop screws and preset screws, are not just a simple set screw. They are a screw with a purpose--three actually.
The first is to provide a fixed stop for a cutting tool to rest against during tool changes. This allows an operator to save time as they do not have to pull out a ruler, setting jig, etc. to reassemble the cutter into a holder.
A secondary purpose of the adjusting screw is to assist the tool holder in keeping the cutter from being pushed up into the holder if the cutting loads increase to the point where the tool may slip up into the holder.
The third is to offer sealing for coolant-through tools.
1. Expected repeatability of cutting tool length
When an old cutter is swapped out and a new one put in its place, the repeatability of this process will vary based on a few parameters such as cleanliness and the OEM cutting tool overall length tolerances.
Cleaning the clamping bore or collet of a holder provides better runout repeatability which should be old news to everyone, but if old coolant and contaminants are not removed, they would get jammed between the end face of the shank and the adjusting screw, affecting the length setting.
Cutting tool overall length tolerances may also vary from one OEM to another. We have seen them range from ±.3mm to ±.5mm (±.012” to ±.019”). Others may be tighter or looser.
Most modern machining centers come with tool length offset measurement systems which will provide the final precise gage length of a tool assembly. With the rough position provided by the adjusting screw, the machine operator can continue working and does not need to worry about tool clearances and stick outs.
2. Forms of adjusting screws
The clamping mechanism of the holder also affects the length repeatability. Both hydraulic chucks and milling chucks are radial clamping systems, whereas a tapered collet is drawn down into a taper by a threaded nut. This draw down causes the cutter to be drawn down as well.
For this we have two types of adjusting screws: HMA/HDA solid type and NBA rubberized type. The solid type is a one-piece steel construction part, whereas the rubberized type has a rubber padded conical pocket that absorbs the axial travel of the cutter shank as the collet is clamped.
3. Option for adjustable reduction sleeves for MEGA DS/HMC
Milling chucks also have a second type of adjustment screw option that can be built into the back end of a reduction sleeve. As cutting tool diameters get smaller, the length of the shank also gets shorter.
As such, the end face of the shank may not reach the HMA adjusting screw when installed it the body of the holder. The AC Type Collet adjuster screws into the back end of the reduction sleeve where the shank the tool can easily be reached.
4. Warning on holders that cannot support adjusting screws
It is always recommended to consult the tool holder catalog or technical documentation to ensure that a holder can support an adjusting screw. Some holders are very short or have very deep internal features that may not allow for the use of any adjusting screw. In those cases, a depth setting ring or collar on the shank of the cutting tool may be an acceptable alternative.
Caution should be used on shrink-fit holders. Thermal expansion/contraction occurs in all three axes, so as the body of a shrink-fit holder cools down it will draw the cutter down jamming onto the adjusting screw. This could lead to damage to the screw, the holder or the cutter.
John Zaya, Product Specialist, explains the concepts behind the UNILOCK Zero-Point workholding system.
He also discusses base pallets and options for 5-axis machines.
0:13 Basic Concepts
0:52 Features of the UNILOCK Clamping Knob
1:50 UNILOCK 5-Axis Program
BIG DAISHOWA is a different kind of tooling partner. Our mission is to find the best of the best and deliver it to our customers with a personal commitment to helping them install truly efficient solutions. We have exceptionally high standards for the products we represent. The result is an all-star line-up of products that deliver true and measurable performance advantages. Products that are engineered to exacting standards and then manufactured with materials and craftsmanship that enable superior performance.
Put simply, the manufacturing process of boring is enlarging a hole in a piece of metal. There are quite a few different pieces of machinery or approaches that can be used to make holes from lathes and mills to line boring or interpolation. We wanted to do a quick break down of the different kinds of boring tools available to bore holes and/or secondary boring operations.
Boring deep holes can involve extreme length-to-diameter ratios, or overhang, when it comes to tooling assemblies. Since it can be difficult to maintain accuracy and stability in these scenarios, we need boring bars to extend tooling assemblies and while maintaining the rigidity to make perfect circles with on-spec finishes.
Solid boring bars
Typically made of carbide for finishing or heavy metal for roughing, solid boring bars have dense structures that make for a more stable cut as axial force is applied.
When cutting speeds are compromised, or surface finishes show chatter in a long-reach boring operation, damping bars are an option. They have integrated damping systems. Our version, the Smart Damper, works as both a counter damper and friction damper so that chatter is essentially absorbed.
Boring heads are specifically designed to enlarge an existing hole. They hold cutters in position so they can rotate and gradually remove material until the hole is at the desired diameter.
Rough boring heads
Once a bore is started with a drill or by another method, rough boring heads are the choice for removing larger amounts of material. They are built more rigid, to handle the increased depths of cut, torque and axial forces needed to efficiently and consistently make the passes to remove materials.
Fine boring heads
Fine boring heads are best used for more delicate and precise removal of material that finishes the work the rough boring head started. They are often balanced for high-speed cutting since that’s the best approach for reaching exact specifications.
Twin cutter boring heads
Most boring heads feature one cutter that cuts as its feed diameter is adjusted by the machine. There are twin cutter boring heads that can speed up cutting and add versatility. For example, the Series 319 and other BIG KAISER twin cutter boring heads include two cutters that can perform balanced or stepped cutting without additional accessories or adjustments by switching the mounting locations of the insert holders that have varied heights.
Digital boring heads
Traditionally, adjusting boring heads has been painstaking and time-consuming, especially when it’s done in the machine. It’s easy to make mistakes when maneuvering to read the diameter dial and adjusting it to the right diameter. Digital boring heads have a LED that makes precise adjustments much easier.
Since cutters are on diameter of boring heads and not their face, they are not able to initiate a hole on a flat surface or raw material. Especially in smaller bores, fluted drills called starter drills can be used to get the hole started before rough boring.
Specialty boring heads
Back boring and face grooving heads, as well as chamfering insert holders, are available for some of the most common secondary operations, after a hole is bored. We produce specific heads with cutters at the appropriate angles so each of these operations can be done without manually moving the part, changing the tool or adjusting the cutter angle.
Modular boring tools
Since limiting length-to-diameter ratios is so crucial to boring success, it’s extremely valuable to be able to make your tooling assembly as short as possible. Our modular components are based on a cylindrical connection with radial locking screw that allows for the ideal combination of different kinds of shanks, reductions and extensions, bars, ER collet adapters and coolant inducers.
Looking for some help finding the right boring equipment for your next job or new machine? Our engineers are here to help. Get in touch with us here.
About the author: Jack Burley, Vice President of Sales and Engineering and Big Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc.
Micromachining, cutting where the volume of chips produced with each tool path is very small, is not a high-speed operation in relation to chip load per tooth. Rather, it involves a high spindle speed relative to cutter diameter. The part may be physically larger, but details of the part require ultra-small profiles achieved only by micromachining. In other words, micromachining is not limited in scope to only miniature parts.
In medical work, where tight tolerances are standard, dynamic runout; the measurement of the spindle at high speeds, performed using laser or capacitance resistance technology, and balance must be controlled to deliver and maintain viable tool life.
A holder with 0.00060" runout accuracy produced nearly two-thirds fewer holes, only 800. In this scenario, the shop could save hundreds of dollars a month in carbide costs – as well as labor costs due to less tool changing – by making one smart tool holder choice.
Holder attributes that can boost production include symmetrical design, a perfectly concentric collapse of the collet around the cutter, and a ball-bearing raceway nut with precision-ground threads.
While these characteristics are good rules of thumb, things change fast in this field and, like our customers, we must adapt as trends emerge.
Batch sizes are getting smaller. Bone screws, for example, were typically run on multi-axis, Swiss-type lathes where the same tools and programs ran for days at a time. Traditionally, prototyping in this arrangement was not an option because of the complexity and time involved in programming and setup. Today’s need for customized sizes demands flexibility and quick changeover to remain productive.
We are investing a large portion of our research and development (R&D) in tackling this challenge. We are working on hydro-clamping tool holder systems that could make the decades-long approach of using ER collets obsolete. It would make it possible, for example, to perform a simple drill change on a gang slide in seconds.
Another trend in medical manufacturing being driven by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is clean machining without the use of water-soluble coolants.
We are focusing on two features:
Tool considerations also must be taken into account to keep up with the demanding medical field. Better results often cannot be achieved by simply increasing spindle speeds or using smaller tools; a deeper understanding of cutters is necessary.
We consider tools with diameters <3mm to be micro tools. These aren’t simply smaller versions of their macro counterparts. They have geometric considerations all their own. For example, the 1mm Sphinx drill can run at 80xD. But this is only possible because the cylindrical shaping extends further down the tool, closer to the tip, to facilitate pecking and maintain strength.
Tool carbide should be ultra-fine grain (nano or submicron grain size) to ensure high abrasion resistance and good toughness. Coatings are valuable too, but it’s important to understand how coatings can negatively impact micro tool performance. Micro tools have extremely fine surface finishes and sharp cutting edges. Coatings can fill in valuable space – a flute on a drill, for example – needed for proper chip evacuation, which is critical in these applications.
Coatings must be ultra-thin (<1µm) and smooth; our experience shows that misapplied coatings result in poor tool life due to breakage; the coating reduces cutting edge sharpness, increasing torque force on the drill. When coating is necessary, consult with the cutting tool manufacturer to provide this directly.
Chips and small tooling naturally do not get along well. Compensating for low spindle speeds with tools that have more flutes support an ideal feed rate, but chip evacuation may suffer. Determining the appropriate chip load – as close to the cutting edge as possible – allows operations at the highest possible spindle speed, accelerating the cycle and improving surface finish.
Optimal conditions exist when the chip load is relatively equal to the cutting edge radius.
Many micro end mills are designed so the cutting edge radius has a positive rake angle to create a shearing action. A chip load less than the cutting edge radius often results in a negative rake angle where the tool rubs rather than cuts. This increases the force required and generates more heat which can result in built-up edges and poor tool life. A chip load significantly bigger than the cutting edge radius often leads to premature failure because the tool is not robust enough to withstand such forces.
Micromachining requires machine tools with very high sensitivity, fine resolution in the feed axis, and very precise spindles capable of high speed with low dynamic runout. For micro-drilling operations, specialized micro machines are best.
Micro milling machines are suited for small tools and small workpieces. They are characterized by spindle speeds faster than 50,000rpm using small HSK tool holders such as HSK-E32, E25, or E20. With the right holder, tool runout can be controlled to less than 1µm (0.000040") at the cutting edge, ensuring sub-micron accuracy.
In medical micromachining, understanding each piece of the equipment puzzle is critical. It’s also important not to make assumptions based on other tools or parts you may have worked with, especially in more standard sizes. Invest the right time and energy in gearing up for the next medical job and you’ll get more parts done right faster.
The four critical requirements for tool holders are clamping force, concentricity, rigidity, and balance for high-spindle speeds. When these factors are dialed in just right, there’s nearly no chance of holder error and considerable cost reduction is achieved thanks to longer tool life and reduction of down-time due to tool changes.
Easier said than done, our experts shared some of their best, quick-hitting advice for top tool holder performance in different situations.
1. Balance holders as a complete assembly
Long-reach milling has some unique demands; when setting up this type of job, always balance tool holders as a complete assembly. While many tooling providers pre-balance their holders at the factory, it’s often inadequate, especially for long-reach applications.
2. Holder damage can go from bad to worse quickly
Wear and tear on holders can be costly in the end, but there are ways to protect against it. Inspect and care for your holders. Trauma on a holder or spindle—dings, scratches, gouges, etc.—can magnify quickly. One bad holder can spread its problems like an illness. If you’re seeing disruptions like these on your holders, get them out of the rotation.
3. The rule of thumb on holder dimensions
Looking for affordable ways to avoid vibration? Start by opting for a holder with a combination of the largest diameter and shortest length possible.
4. Rigidity can harm tapping operations
What many don’t realize about tapping operations is that a perceived strength of collet chucks—their rigidity—can actually be detrimental. Rigidity does very little to counteract the dramatic thrust loads imposed on the tap and part, exacerbating the already difficult challenge of weathering the stop/reverse and maintaining synchronization.
5. Balancing is crucial to five-axis machining
Five-axis machining introduces a whole new set of tooling challenges. While important in any type of machine, balance may be of most importance in full five-axis work. A well-balanced holder helps ensure the cutting edge of the end mill must be consistently engaged with the material in order to prevent chatter and poor surface finish quality.
6. Consider spindle speed requirements when choosing between shrink-fit and hydraulic holders
If you have to choose between shrink-fit and hydraulic holders in a long-reach application, consider the spindle speed required. If a hydraulic chuck exceeds its rated RPM, fluid is pulled away from the holder’s internal gripping gland, causing loss of clamping force. But when used within its recommended operating range, a hydraulic tool holder offers superior runout and repeatability. On average, a good shrink-fit holder has about 0.0003-inch runout, while a hydraulic chuck offers 0.0001 inch or better.
7. Don’t overlook the tool’s effect on holder performance
The cutting tool affects holding ability more than most machinists and engineers realize:
8. Not all dual-contact tooling is the same
Anyone in the market for BIG-PLUS dual-contact tooling should consider this simple statement: Only a licensed supplier of BIG-PLUS has master gages that are traceable to the BIG grand master gages and have the dimensions and tolerances provided to make holders right. Everyone else is guessing and using a sample BIG-PLUS tool holder as their own master gage—a practice that any quality expert will advise against.
Look for the marking: “BIG-PLUS Spindle System-License BIG DAISHOWA SEIKI.”
9. You may have a BIG-PLUS spindle and not even know it
You’d be surprised how often we hear from our certified regrinders or engineers in the field about folks that didn’t realize their machine had a BIG-PLUS spindle—the message can get lost in the supply chain or during the sales process.
The easiest way to know if an interface is BIG-PLUS is to place a standard tool into the spindle and see how much of a gap there is between the tool holder flange face and spindle face. Without BIG-PLUS, the standard gap should be visible, or about 0.12 in. If it is BIG-PLUS, the gap is half of this amount, or only 0.06 in. These values change depending on 30 taper, 40 taper or 50 taper sizes, but the gap is visibly less than usual.
10. Use positive offsets during holder setup
It may be how it’s traditionally been done but touching off holder assemblies in each machine to establish negative tool offsets based on the zero-point surface—the vise, machine table, workpiece, etc.—is not the most efficient process. We think the choice is pretty clear: adapting machines to a single presetter so they can receive positive gage lengths is superior to using all types of machine-specific negative offsets.
This is a change to “the way things have always been done” that can be met with some resistance, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a relatively small and simple step that makes life much easier. It’s a relatively low-cost opportunity to introduce more standardization of holder setup to the shop floor.
Holders are the bridge between the machine and the part. That’s a lot of pressure—literally and figuratively. It’s important to select, care for and use holders carefully from the day they are purchased until they’re tossed into the recycling bin.
From collet chucks to coolant inducers, BIG KAISER is North America’s source for standard-bearing tool holders that guarantees high performance. Explore the full lineup.
DEPTH OF CUT COLUMN
by Jack Burley, President and COO at BIG KAISER Precision Tooling Inc.
It’s time for machine tool builders and machining companies to shelf the long-standing ISO 1940-1 standard in favor of ISO 16084:2017. Not only is balancing tools rarely necessary, it can also be risky.
A lot of conflicting information has circulated over the years about balancing tools. As an author of the new standard for calculating permissible static and dynamic residual unbalances of rotating single tools and tool systems – ISO 16084:2017 – allow me to clear some things up and, hopefully, make life a little easier for you.
Since its institution in 1940, the G2.5 balance specification has been widely accepted across the industry; i.e., “it’s how things have always been done.”
However, machines were much slower 80 years ago. Back then, the most advanced machines would have spun larger, heavier tools at a maximum speed of about 4,000 RPM. If you applied the math from those days to today, you’d get unachievable values.
For example, the tolerances defined by G2.5 for tools with a mass of less than 1 pound rated for 40,000 RPM calculates to 0.2 gram millimeters (gm.mm.) of permissible unbalance and eccentricity of 0.6 micron. This isn’t within the repeatable range for any balance machine on the market.
Similarly, application-specific assemblies, for operations like back boring and small, lightweight, high-speed toolholders, can’t be accurately balanced for G2.5.
Machine tool builders rely on an outdated number, too, often basing spindle warranty coverage on using balanced tools at very specific close tolerances. While it’s true that poorly balanced tools run at high speeds wear a spindle faster, decently balanced tools performing common operations won’t wear spindles or tools drastically and deliver the results you’re looking for.
While it’s true that poorly balanced tools run at high speeds wear a spindle faster, decently balanced tools performing common operations won’t wear spindles or tools drastically and deliver the results you’re looking for.
A Little Lesson About Forces
This all begs the question: When do you need to take the time to balance holders? I would argue that tools require balancing only if they’re notably asymmetrical or being used for high-speed fine finishing. Here’s a rule I’ve long followed: If cutting forces exceed centrifugal forces due to unbalance, high-precision balancing isn’t needed because the force required to balance the tool will most likely be less than cutting forces.
At that point, aggressive cutting – not unbalance – is going to damage the spindle.
Unbalanced tools are also blamed for issues that turn out to be misunderstandings about a machine’s spindle. I’ve visited shops with new high-speed spindles that had trouble running micro tools over 15,000 RPM. They rebalanced all the tools on the advice of their machine tool supplier, but to no avail. It turned out the machine was tuned for higher torque and higher cutting forces. Before going to the effort of balancing toolholders, work with your machine builder to understand where a spindle is tuned.
Not only is balancing tools rarely necessary, it can also be risky. Our inherently asymmetrical fine-boring heads are a good example. Because we balance them at the center, a neutral position of the work range, you lose that balance if you adjust out or in.
To adjust, you’d typically add weight to the light side, which can be a problem for chip evacuation and an obstructor. Or you can remove weight from the heavy side, but that means you have to put some big cuts on the same axis of the insert and insert holder, ultimately weakening the tool.
In longer tool assemblies, common corrections made for static unbalance can also cause issues. It happens when a toolholder is corrected for static unbalance in the wrong plane; i.e., adding or removing weight somewhere on the assembly that’s not 180 degrees across from the area where there’s a surplus or deficit.
Once the tool is spun at full speed, those weights pull in opposite directions and create a couple unbalance that often worsens the situation.
A Cautionary Tale
If you do go down the balancing road, you’d better know where you can modify tools, what’s inside, how deep you can go, and at what angles. Whether you’re adding or removing material on a holder, I highly recommend consulting the tool manufacturer for guidance first.
As a cautionary tale, consider a customer who was attempting to balance a batch of our coolant-fed holders. Based on the balancing machine, the operator drilled ¼-inch holes at the prescribed angle into the body of the holders. Not realizing what was inside, he drilled into cross holes connecting coolant flow and ruined several holders.
Tooling manufacturers are doing their part to avert disasters like this. For most, simple tools like collet chucks or hydraulic chucks are fairly easy to balance during manufacturing. We account for any asymmetrical features while machining and grinding holders and pilot each moving part, ensuring they’ll locate concentrically during assembly. These measures ensure the residual unbalance of the assemblies is very, very low and eliminate the need for balancing.
Decades of the same standards have conditioned us to think a certain way about balancing tools. While it seems logical that every tool must be balanced, it’s just not the case: Many issues attributed to unbalance aren’t caused by unbalance, and the risks of balancing every single tool often aren’t worth the reward.
Save your balancing time and resources for high-speed fine finishing. If you do have work where balance is crucial, consider how the tools you buy are balanced and piloted out of the box and/or consult your partners before making any modifications.
Technical Support Blog
At Next Generation Tool we often run into many of the same technical questions from different customers. This section should answer many of your most common questions.
We set up this special blog for the most commonly asked questions and machinist data tables for your easy reference.
If you've got a question that's not answered here, then just send us a quick note via email or reach one of us on our CONTACTS page here on the website
Our technical section is written by several different people. Sometimes, it's from our team here at Next Generation Tooling & at other times it's by one of the innovative manufacturer's we represent in California and Nevada.
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