Cutting tool developer Technicut and toolholding specialist Nikken Kosakusho worked with the AMRC to prove that a new tooling system can achieve record-breaking rates of metal removal.
Technicut’s TiTan Rippa carbide cutter is designed to significantly increase the speed at which titanium alloys can be cut. The design allows it to slot at depths of twice the tool diameter compared to conventional alternatives, which typically achieve half to one diameter.
“Being able to test our system with the AMRC, has given us the confidence to develop the product and export it all over the world”
Mark Kirby, Technical Director at Technicut
However, initial tests of the tool found that it was almost too powerful for the other parts of the machine tool system. The extremely high cutting forces generated by the tool, particularly in axial Z-direction, meant that its chuck couldn’t keep hold of it.
With expertise in tool-holding technology, Nikken was a natural partner to help solve the TiTan problem.
Nikken developed the new ‘X-Treme’ design, based on an enhanced version of their established Multi-Lock range.
The new tooling system was researched, developed and tested in the UK – a first for Nikken. To validate the technology, Technicut and Nikken made use of the high-performance machining capabilities of the AMRC. The system was tested using the AMRC’s Starrag Heckert ZT1000 five-axis milling centre and the Nuclear AMRC’s Starrag HEC1600 horizontal boring machine.
“The final X-Treme features a completely redesigned, sealed nose ring assembly, and a unique tool shank security system, it not only guarantees the exact positioning of the tool shank but also eliminates any movement and pullingof the tool shank during cut.”
Steve Eckersall, Group Engineering Manager for Nikken
The new X-Treme Multi-Lock met all expectations, allowing the TiTan tool to cut aerospace-grade titanium 6-4 alloy at super-fast rates – removing metal at up to 267cm3 per minute.
“Being able to test our new tooling systems on the large-scale machining centres at the AMRC has allowed us to prove their value to the most demanding clients,” says Kirby. “Our membership has benefited us enormously – we have won new business and grown our workforce as a result of the collaborative research and networking opportunities here.”
The patented system, now in production, is being deployed at major titanium machine shops worldwide. One aerospace manufacturer is using the new tooling combination to mill slots in several sizes of titanium engine fan disc, and has reduced cycle time for one part from 36 hours to around 11.
The stability offered by the X-Treme is also reducing tooling costs. Work that previously required more than 30 tools can now be done with just six milling tools.
Nikken is now developing the X-Treme for use with other hard-to-machine alloys, starting with Inconel. They are also investing in a new European research and development centre on the R-evolution development at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, next to the AMRC campus.
“Not only have Nikken been partners since the inception of the AMRC, we will soon have a technical base on the park,” says Eckersall. “This investment is based on the success of projects like X-Treme.”