Tackling Diversification Obstacles

Sandviken, Sweden – According to a McKinsey & Company report, there will be a “next normal” for manufacturers in the aftermath of COVID-19. With revenue losses in some sectors and unexpected spikes in demand in others, the crisis is forcing manufacturers to diversify. James Thorpe, Product Manager, Sandvik Coromant explains why selecting the right tools and determining the right tool calculations are critical to overcoming diversification challenges.

McKinsey & Company’s COVID-19: Briefing note report predicts that manufacturers can expect “lasting shifts in customer markets” and that resilience will be required if manufacturers are to “navigate an economically and socially viable path.” To put it another way, they must diversify to survive.

Today’s engineers, thankfully, are well-versed in mixed production, and most have progressed far beyond the low-tech stereotype of “Fred in his tool shed.” Diversifying production, however, is not without its difficulties.

Choosing the right tooling solution is essential for facilitating production changes. This is especially important for engineers working with tough materials such as duplex stainless steels, Inconel, or heat resistant super alloys (HRSAs), as well as companies that work with multi-materials.

Such operations necessitate the use of optimized tools with carefully calculated cutting data. Drilling tools are an excellent example. Drill penetration rates typically range between 50 and 1000 millimetres per minute. Precision calculations are vital for these tools to avoid poor tool life and, at worst, premature tool failure. Simply put, if the component material changes, the drilling cutting data must also change.

A material-specific tool

What exactly do we mean by “the right” tool? When it comes to drills, this usually refers to tools that last longer and produce higher-quality holes, particularly in tough materials like Inconel.

Sandvik Coromant has developed a line of CoroDrill® 860 solid carbide drills with optimized geometries for a variety of applications involving tough, difficult materials as well as malleable, abrasive, and soft materials commonly found in the ISO-K and ISO-N families. The CoroDrill 860-GM has enhanced -GM geometry and is optimized for multi-materials and applications.

Other tools in the line, such as the CD860-PM, are designed specifically for drilling ISO-P steels. The CD860-SM is optimized for ISO-S materials used in the manufacture of aerospace parts. The CD860-GM is mainly advantageous for general engineering with mixed-materials, where productivity is pivotal and engineers want to diversify their production.

The innovative, polished flute design of the CD860-GM improves chip evacuation and hole quality. It has a unique fine-grained carbide substrate that increases hardness while maintaining toughness. Furthermore, the drill’s tip is coated with a multi-layer physical vapor deposition (PVD) thin film coating, which is key to enhancing drill productivity and tool life.

An automotive engineering firm in South Korea put this to the test. The CD860-GM was used to machine a transmission connector in ISO-P material, and its performance was compared to that of a competitor’s drill on the same component. A cutting speed (Vc) of 100 m/min, a cutting feed (Fn) of 0.21 mm/rev, and a drilling depth of 10 mm were used. In the end, the CD860-GM provided the customer with a 1,150 percent increase in tool life.

Online solution

Productivity advantages, such as those demonstrated in South Korea, could be crucial in assisting manufacturers to diversify their production while remaining competitive. However, the cutting data calculations that must be optimized for any given application are equally important. Nevertheless, determining this for a new product may mandate the assistance of an expert.

Due to COVID-19’s travel restrictions, it is unlikely that a tool specialist will be able to visit the vendor location. So, how can today’s engineers not only calculate the best values for the job, but also match them to the best-recommended drill for the job? Furthermore, how can this be done quickly and accurately to maintain production uptime in the face of today’s diversification challenges?

The solution is found in online software. Sandvik Coromant developed the CoroPlus® Tool Guide to help users select the right tool and cutting data for new or existing applications. The Tool Guide not only recommends the best tool for the job, but it also provides cutting data and estimated tool life.

The ability to make such important decisions regarding tooling and its calculations is integral if manufacturers are to diversify effectively. Furthermore, the ability to access this guidance online may be imperative for engineers adapting to the COVID-19 circumstances.

When combined with optimized tools such as the CoroDrill 860 range, the challenges of what McKinsey & Company refers to as the “next normal” could also represent an opportunity for manufacturers and engineers.

Image Source: Sandvik Coromant

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