Carbide Tools: Solid Like a Rock
The following 10 years,au contraire is in complete settlement that carbide has a protracted and productive life ahead of it.
“Solid carbide use is growing, and growing tremendously,” said Thomas Raun, chief technical officer at Iscar USA, Arlington, Texas. “Granted, indexable and interchangeable systems enjoy a big piece of the pie, but there’s still a huge number of applications where you can’t replace a solid-carbide end mill or drill.”
Substrate and coating technology continues to advance, enabling ever more capable tooling that will significantly improve efficiency and profitability for the machining industry. That is according to Sarang Garud, product manager at Walter USA LLC, Waukesha, Wis. “That being said, we expect to see more aluminum used in the automotive and other industries, so polycrystalline diamond (PCD) will also grow quite a bit, although carbide will remain number one.”
And Steve Lind, vice president of solid round tools for the Americas at Sandvik Coromant, Mebane, N.C., said his company expects to see continued growth in the solid-carbide market for the foreseeable future. “I attribute much of this to cutting tool manufacturers’ increased design capabilities, along with more advanced grinding equipment. The result is a wide selection of products that allow the industry to take full advantage of today’s sophisticated machining technology.”
That's just a sampling of the overall enthusiasm for solid-carbide cutting tools and the productivity gains they bring to the table. Competition notwithstanding, experts at Kennametal, Ingersoll Cutting Tools, Horn USA, Ceratizit, and Scientific Cutting Tools all concurred that carbide use will continue to prosper over the next decade and beyond.
Carbon fiber and aluminum workpieces continue to become more prevalent. Because of this, PCD and DLC tools will continue to replace solid-carbide end mills and drills in some nonferrous and composite applications, particularly in high-volume production. As anyone who's used it knows, PCD allows significantly higher cutting speeds compared to solid carbide, leading to increased productivity. This is especially important on modern CNC equipment, where faster spindles and look-ahead software technology enables greater throughput. When properly applied, PCD tooling also provides much longer tool life in these materials, providing many opportunities for lights-out manufacturing.
High-performance tooling means fewer tool changes, longer tool life, faster cycle times and more predictable processes.