Pairing the Right Tools With Foundational Knowledge

Cost-competitive mold manufacturing requires both, and a recent event at Ingersoll Cutting Tools campus delivered.

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More than 140 people registered for the Ingersoll’s annual Die & Mold Seminar, hosted July 22 and 23 in Rockford, Illinois, enough to fill every seat and drive the company to set up a video feed in a separate room. 

You heard it here first: later this year, Ingersoll Cutting Tools will announce a brand new high feed milling tool that it says will be particularly attractive to users of its PowerFeed+. Notable features will reportedly include refined geometry, six robust, reinforced cutting edges, a strong, high-rake chipformer for smooth machining, and a “unique” pocket seat design for secure insert clamping. Stay tuned.

If you actually didn’t hear that here first, kudos to you. That means you probably attended last week’s Die and Mold Seminar at the company’s picturesque campus in Rockford, Illinois. That, in turn, probably also means you are the type who recognizes that getting an education can be more than worth taking time away from the shop. And an education is just what attendees got. Although there was plenty of talk about specific products, the event also offered plenty of opportunities to explore the rudimentary principles that inform any new cutter design, and perhaps more importantly, the successful application of any new cutter design in the field.

Do you know the difference between advance per tooth and feed per tooth? Are you even aware that there is a difference? For that matter, do you understand the basic principles behind chip thinning? Could you outline the advantages of PVD coatings vs. CVD coatings? What if I asked you to tell me the smallest possible hole that can be helically milled with a certain cutter? (Answer: take the diameter of the maximum possible hole diameter, and subtract the value of two insert widths.) Ingersoll has been leveraging such knowledge to innovate for 125 years now (the company was founded in Cleveland in 1887), and through events like this, the company aims to help customers do the same.

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Among the offerings on display was the FormMaster R. This cutter is available with two insert styles: round and serrated. The former offers 16 cutting edges. The latter offers only 8, but the serrations help avoid vibration in long-reach applications by breaking machined material into shorter chips. Both types can be mounted in the same tool body. 

What’s more, discussions of virtually every topic revolved specifically around mold manufacturing applications, even when those discussions did revolve around specific products. For instance, manufacturers of all stripes can benefit from the Chipsurfer, which features a modular shank with changeable tips to speed the process of changing out a worn tool or switching to a different type of tool. Moldmakers, however, might be particularly interested to know that inch-style tips can be mounted on metric-style shanks (or vice versa) to provide a bit of extra clearance in long-reach applications.

Such discussions weren’t limited to the seminar room, either. Attendees also had a chance to tour the manufacturing operation to get a first-hand look at how tool bodies are machined and how inserts are ground, sintered and coated. After a short walk to the company’s technical center, they then got to see cutters in action during live demonstrations that proved out the benefits of various design features (This coverage of an Ingersoll event back in April provides a look at some of the features common to many of the company’s tools).   

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Attendees get up close and personal with an Agathon grinder forming insert peripheries. Arranged in two long rows, these machines utilize five-axis robot loading and automated gaging for lights-out grinding of anywhere between 35 and 65 parts per hour each. Altogether, that totals about 400,000 parts per month. 

If you missed the event, no worries. The yearly event will be back again in 2016. Although you might want to register early, as it seems to be increasing in popularity. Attendance this year was so high that the company had to set up a video feed in a separate room to enable everyone to see the presentations.   

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