PCD tooling manufacturing expert Exactaform has installed the first-in-the-country ‘DMG Mori Lasertec 20 PrecisionTool’,hailing its ability to profile inserts and produce chipbreakers all in the same operation as the key attraction.
Already having 12 conventional disk and wire erosion machines, in March 2015 the Coventry-based firm added the new equipment. Says Exactaform director Jamie White: “We carried out trials on several laser machines and we found that the DMG Mori Lasertec 20 PrecisionTool was the ideal fit for us. Not only has DMG Mori been in the market the longest with this technology, but it [DMG Mori Lasertec 20 PrecisionTool] uses HSK holders and Lasersoft software for programming, which is very similar to what we use on the wire EDM machines, making implementation of the technology quick and easy for us.
“We can make whatever profile shape we like, simply importing a 2D profile into the software and following a question and answer session to arrive at the CNC program. We found that the DMG Mori Lasertec 20 PrecisionTool produces a keener, chip-free edge and is slightly faster than the conventional machining methods. However, the possibility of adding a chipbreaker on our PCD tips, all in one operation, was the main reason for the investment.”
As an example, one of Exactaform’s customers was cutting soft aluminium with a carbide tool, where a chipbreaker is easy to grind, but moved to PCD tool technology once Exactaform was able to supply chipbreaker technology.
Adds White: “We are building a new factory, which will give us 40,000 sqft, and we are always looking to invest in the latest technology. The Lasertec 20 PrecisionTool is the first in the country and our customers appreciate our commitment to implementing advanced technology. Additionally, we have the skills to support them with tool design and testing, highly skilled brazing processes and 100% inspection.
“We are customer driven and we are always looking for new ways to speed up production and deliver tools faster. The DMG Mori Lasertec 20 PrecisionTool fits well, as it is a high precision machine. It occupies less floor space, is at the forefront of technology, is impressive to look at, is faster than our other methods and gives us a significant opportunity in the chipbreaker market. I am sure we will invest in more of these machines in the future.”
The Lasertec 20 PrecisionTool has a pulsed 5-axis laser, is fitted with Celos and the Siemens 840D solutionline control, and has the capacity for 42 HSK-held tools ready for automatic loading and cutting via the PH 10|100 linear magazine. Changing workpieces takes 30 seconds or less and, with Celos, a queue of work can be automated and monitored for single part and low volume production.
According to DMG Mori, using laser has some significant technical advantages for PCD, as it can work through both the diamond and its binding material, which is especially relevant for course grained PCD grades. Erosion only cuts the binding material, while grinding can cause break-out of the diamond grains, resulting in a rougher edge that affects the quality and life of the finished tool, the company says. Furthermore, the production of chipbreaker geometry in PCD is straight forward on a Lasertec 20 PrecisionTool, but impossible when grinding or wire eroding.