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Outlook Diamonds Can Be A Tool’s Best Friend If you’re machining high-perfor-


mance parts from advanced non-ferrous materials, diamonds could be your best friend—especially if you’re dealing with high demands and limited capacity. Diamond is the hardest, most abra-


sion-resistant material known, making it a brilliant cutting solution for manu- facturing. Tis is especially true for the aerospace and automotive sectors where polycrystalline diamond (PCD) and diamond-coated tools can offer amazing productivity advantages through extra- long tool life and extremely fast cutting parameters. In fact, a diamond coating can bring 10 times more tool life to a cemented carbide cutting tool. Overall, diamond tooling takes


machining to levels that carbide simply can't reach, significantly reducing the frequency of tool replacements and enabling machines to make parts much faster. It’s important, however, to remember that while the upfront cost of diamond tooling can cause sticker shock, its long-term benefits can bring some serious bling to a bottom line. Let’s suppose you’re using carbide


tooling to machine aluminum at 2000 surface feet per minute (sfm; 610 m/ min). By switching to diamond tool- ing, you have a solution that will last for what seems like forever and can machine as high as 10,000 sfm or 3048 m/min. Tis results in you machining five times as many parts in the same amount of time with the same number of machines and operators as before. As such, your cost per part drops


dramatically, and you can make a lot more profit per part, or reduce the selling price of each part to enable your


company to gain market share. If you think diamond tooling could


be your new best friend, there are some things you should first consider: Te biggest payback comes with ma-


chining abrasive materials. For example, the aluminum automakers use to build engine blocks is very abrasive, having silicon and silicon carbide particles that grind away at a cutting tool. With car- bide tooling, these manufacturers may run at 500 sfm (152 m/min) and get 10 minutes of tool life. Diamond tooling, on the other hand, would allow them to machine at 5000 sfm (1524 m/min) and get a couple of hours of tool life.


While the upfront cost of diamond tooling can cause sticker shock, its long-term benefits can bring some serious bling to a bottom line.


Diamond cutting tools like running


fast and can reach their full potential with machine tools more suitable to them. However, if fast machines are too expensive for a manufacturer, a slower machine using diamond tooling will still achieve higher productivity than one us- ing carbide or high-speed steel tooling. Preventing aluminum from stick-


ing to the cutting edge is important for maintaining a good surface finish. Tus, the machine tool used with diamond tooling should always be running fast enough to avoid metal build-up. Tere are also specialized coolants that can help avoid built-up edge. Diamond tooling is not suitable for


use on all materials. While hard steels are suitable, for instance, soſt steels, stainless steels and cast irons are not.


Diamond is made of carbon, which reacts with iron to form iron carbide— essentially, it is an atomic reaction that turns diamond into graphite. PCD tooling, which involves taking


diamond particles and hot pressing them together, is more expensive than diamond-coated tooling. However, it offers higher wear resistance and yields a better surface finish. Diamond-coated carbide tooling offers better chip control and has more geometric flexibility than PCD tooling. Practically any tool shape can have a diamond coating. While PCD tooling may produce better surface fin- ishes, diamond-coated tooling is better at machining graphite components and composite materials. But like any other cutting tool, the life of a diamond-coat- ed tool varies based on part geometry, material type, and speed and feeds. Two decades ago there was a prob-


lem with diamond coatings peeling off carbide cutting tools. Tat's no longer an issue. Tool manufacturers prevent it by using compatible carbide chemistry as well as suitable preparation techniques and proper reactor conditions. Te long life of diamond tools make


them ideal for large machining volumes or long cuts. Aſter all, it takes a lot of cutting to be able to capture all the use- ful life the tool can deliver. It’s obvious diamond cutting tools


can bring clear-cut advantages to advanced applications by allowing for increased operating speeds without sac- rificing tool life. While these tools can be expensive, you will definitely benefit in the long run if your goal is to accom- modate more orders or achieve greater output.


Motorized Vehicle Manufacturing 27 Don Graham


Manager of Education and Technical Services Seco Tools Inc. Troy, MI


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