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Cutting Costs, While Saving The Planet For Tool Makers

Cutting Costs, While Saving The Planet For Tool Makers

The main driver of business sustainability goals is to make an impact on the wider world. Another benefit that is often overlooked is the economic value of implementing sustainable actions. Can businesses save money, while helping to protect the planet? Here, Sachin Pimpalnerkar, global segment manager for renewable energy at global engineering group, Sandvik, explains how Sandvik Machining Solutions (SMS) has optimised two crucial toolmaking technologies to achieve just that.

Almost everything made of metal is machined with an insert. The insert has to withstand extreme heat and force, so is made of some of the hardest materials in the world. Typically, an insert is made using 80 per cent tungsten carbide, renowned for its superior durability, and a metal matrix that binds the carbide grains together, where cobalt is the most common.

Tough components created to withstand some of the most intense working environments require manufacturing processes that are equally strenuous.

Sintering

One of the most intense steps in tool insert manufacturing is the sintering process. After the carefully selected metal powders are milled and then pressed into shape, the inserts are very fragile. It is at this stage that the inserts are fused, or sintered, into solid pieces.

Sintering is not a quick process — but time is money. Keeping powerful furnaces in operation for many hours at a time uses up immense amounts of energy, but cutting corners and producing fragile inserts would be even more wasteful. If a reduction in energy consumption is to be made possible, it would require a reduction in cycle times without compromising product quality.

Teams at Dormer Pramet, part of the Sandvik Group, have successfully reduced the cycle time of their sintering process by almost 100 minutes. To achieve this reduction, Dormer Pramet engineers worked in close collaboration with research and development specialists from Sandvik Materials Technology (SMT) in Pune, India to redesign the gas flow passing through the charge of the sintering furnaces.

Coating

When machining ferrous materials such as cast iron or stainless steel, a coated insert is the favoured tool of choice. CVD coating involves placing tools into a chamber, which is pumped with gases at 950-1100 deg C. These gases react inside the heated chamber, depositing a thin layer onto each tool that reinforces its strength.

High temperatures are key to effective CVD coating, but maintaining them is an energy intensive process. How do we keep heat inside a building? We insulate it. To prevent heat from escaping CVD coating chambers, Dormer Pramet added new insulation onto the furnace’s coating. Trapping heat inside the chamber has shortened the cycle times of CVD reactors, and is estimated to lower emissions by 25 tonnes every year.

Combined, these two actions are calculated to not only reduce annual emissions by around 40 tonnes, but also save around 230,000 euros every year. Sustainable action will always focus on environmental improvement, but by implementing simple changes, manufacturers may also enjoy the business benefits that process evaluation can bring.

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C-Com Projects With MARPOSS And Oerlikon Balzers To Introduce Intelligent App For Tooling

c-Com Projects With MARPOSS And Oerlikon Balzers To Introduce Intelligent App For Tooling

Step-by-step networking for in-house manufacturing, involving suppliers and customers and efficiently using data together – the digital services provided by c-Com, a member of MAPAL Group, make it all possible. However, the start-up isn’t just developing its own applications. It’s also generating added value for customers by working closely with cooperation partners.

Cooperation with MARPOSS: reduced setup times and maximum tool service life

The optimal and longest-possible use of tools represents a vital cost factor for machining companies. But compromises are often necessary – particularly in series production and as part of automated processes. Tools with a defined tool life are replaced as soon as the specified tool life has come to an end. In many cases, though, the tool has not truly reached the end of its tool life and replacement is not yet necessary. However, companies play it safe to avoid quality issues and the risk of producing items that later need to be rejected.

READ: Marposs Optimistic of the Philippine Metalworking Industry

This is one of the elements addressed by the ARTIS GENIOR MODULAR module by MARPOSS. The fully automatic tool- and process-monitoring system has been an established feature of the market for many years. It works by recording various measurements and assessing them on the basis of several criteria.

MARPOSS recently launched a collaboration with c-Com GmbH and its c-Com open cloud platform to provide module users with additional value: the ARTIS GENIOR MODULAR module and c-Com are set to exchange data. Once the defined tool limits have been reached, the staff member responsible receives a notification on their mobile terminal – which is made possible by the cooperation with c-Com. As a result, operators can react more quickly and boost the efficiency of their manufacturing processes.

Cooperation with Oerlikon Balzers: transparency and sustainability thanks to digital processing for coating

Many tools are re-sharpened and re-coated to make production as cost-efficient as possible and to use raw materials sustainably. This procedure is very complex for everyone involved – from the machine operators to the staff members carrying out the re-sharpening and coating. If a staff member responsible for re-sharpening sends a tool for coating, this staff member is often not aware of corresponding order status. This results in frequent queries. In some cases, the number of re-sharpening processes is simply marked on the tool shank. Overall, the total benefit is reduced by the very high investment of time and effort required.

READ: Coating Processes with Increased Material and Energy Efficiency

In cooperation with Oerlikon Balzers, c-Com has developed an application that enables significantly more effective and transparent order processing. The prototype was showcased at EMO Hannover. The only prerequisite to benefitting from the advantages of digital processing for coating is identifying all tools with a unique ID.

The c-Com application exchanges data with the myBalzers customer portal run by Oerlikon Balzers. This way, the entire order process is digitalised, and all receipts are available online. It is easy to share documents such as delivery slips, invoices or order confirmations, and the status of each coating order can be viewed in real time. There is no longer a need to ask for order updates – a quick glance at the application provides the user with all the information they need. On top of this, machine operators have access to all the important information about their tool at all times. Thanks to the collaborative approach by c-Com, they can access all data via the cloud.

The c-Com wear detection app: a technical advisor in your pocket

c-Com has developed a wear detection application to provide answers to these questions. The prototype for the application was presented at EMO Hannover. The application is very simple to use: first, the worn blade is documented using a smartphone and a conventional auxiliary lens for zooming in. The app then identifies the type of wear and suggests corresponding recommended actions. This allows users to prevent this type of wear in future.

The application is based on machine learning, a sub-category of artificial intelligence. This means that the application uses datasets to learn. Together with tool specialists at MAPAL, c-Com has compiled and categorized hundreds of images. Effectively, the algorithm was trained by being shown what different types of wear look like, allowing it to assess whether or not a blade is in good order.

 

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