It’s said that life is a marathon, not a sprint. For automotive manufacturers, longer lasting tooling solutions are integral to more profitable production—but, often, manufacturers see little reason to change their existing tool set-up. In this article, James Thorpe, global product manager at Sandvik Coromant, explains why the benefits of longer-lasting tools shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly for reducing costs-per-part or increasing overall output.
Unpredictable tool life is one of the biggest threats in mass automotive production, particularly as its operations are so highly-automated and use some of the world’s most advanced robotics and automation systems. Downtime is time-consuming, disrupts production and is also expensive, so it goes without saying that tool failures should be avoided at all costs.
In some instances, manufacturers set the tool change interval to less than the maximum tool life. This approach is normally preferred because material variations in automotive components are minimal. It follows that the tool changes should be predictable, and safer, than trying to extend the tool life to manufacture a few more components.
For Sandvik Coromant’s specialists, the key to longer tool life is not limited to the amount of time a tool spends in use, but also the drill design itself. This approach led to the development of the CoroDrill 860 with enhanced -GM geometry, a new design solid carbide drill that’s optimized for a wide range of materials and applications, across all industry sectors.
For the CoroDrill 860-GM, Sandvik Coromant applied its machine tooling and metal cutting expertise to develop a new grade, a unique fine-grained carbide substrate known as X1BM. The fine-grained carbide is imbued with increased hardness while maintaining toughness.
Furthermore, the drill is tip-coated with a multi-layer physical vapor deposition (PVD) thin film coating. This is key to improving the drill’s productivity and delivering a consistent tool life across a variety of materials. The result is a tool with excellent stability, machining security and improved tool life when machining cast iron, steel, stainless steel, hardened steels and non-ferrous metals.
Assessing Tool Life
A better way to assess tool life is by measuring the amount of material removed. To aid productivity, the CoroDrill 860-GM has an innovative, polished flute design that improves the evacuation of chips and yields greater hole quality. This also helps to reduce heat build-up in the tool, and further benefits are high core strength and reduced cutting forces while drilling.
The 860-GM forms part of Sandvik Coromant’s CoroDrill range of solid carbide drills. They are designed not only for optimized performance but also versatility, which means they can be deployed in a variety of applications and materials across multiple industries.
This includes use with the following material groups: ISO-P, the largest material group in metal cutting that ranges from unalloyed to high-alloyed material; ISO-M that includes difficult-to-cut stainless steels, austenitic steels and duplex steels; ISO-K grey, nodular and compacted graphite cast iron; ISO-H steels with a Rockwell hardness of between 45-65 HRc; and ISO-N for softer, non-ferrous materials such as aluminium, copper and brass.
As mentioned, the CoroDrill 860-GM has an enhanced design, but what exactly does this entail? Much of this relates to the design of the drill itself that includes an advanced optimized point and flute geometry, reinforced core and corner chamfers, edge preparation to remove cutting edge micro defects, and a double margin to enhance drilling stability. The drill’s point is also designed with refined clearance angles and improved surface quality.
Overall, these design features stabilise the drill, reduce entry and exit burr and improve the hole tolerance, finish and straightness. The drill also gives stable wear progression and delivers excellent hole accuracy.
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