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Tool Breakages A Thing of The Past With Blum
Tool Breakages A Thing of The Past With Blum

Tool Breakages A Thing of The Past With Blum

Added to MTDCNC by Blum-Novotest on 02 March 2015

Broken cutting tools and the resultant damage or scrapping of components can now be a thing of the past with the exciting new TMAC tool monitoring solution from Blum Novotest. The ingenious new Tool Monitor Adaptive Control (TMAC) system protects your CNC machine while providing valuable information regarding the cutting process.


The TMAC is an addition to the Blum product portfolio that has been developed by Caron Engineering, a technical partner of Blum Novotest. The system reduces the high cost of replacement tools, lost production and rejected parts by effectively measuring tool wear in real time. It operates on the principle that the horsepower required to cut a part increases as the condition of the cutting edges of the tool deteriorate.


The system has already proven a resounding success in the US where major manufacturers such as Pratt & Witney, Smith & Wesson, John Deere, Smiths Aerospace, Volvo Aerospace, Arvin Meritor, MTU Aero Engines and Stryker Howmedica have all endorsed the product whilst other customers like General Electric Aircraft insist upon installing the TMAC system on every machine tool. 


The TMAC system comprises of a main controller, horsepower transducer, vibration sensor and the TMS display software – all of which can be simply integrated into any CNC machine tool and Windows based PC. The software conveniently enables the machine to be monitored from the shop floor or remotely from the office.


TMAC can work in conjunction with the Blum laser control system where tool breakage detection and tool wear monitoring is done with TMAC, whilst tool length and radius measurement, compensation of thermal effects or the deviations because of high spindle speeds can be done with the laser. Customers using TMAC and laser systems as a complement to each other can have the complete production (cutting) process under control. 


TMAC has a ‘learn mode’ that learns the tools for each job and their respective horsepower. In this mode, the operator can set the horsepower limitations for each tool. For example, a 25% increase in power can be considered as wear, whilst a 50% increase can be considered as extreme. This information is relayed to the CNC control to allow corrective action.  To further enhance the cutting process the adaptive control feature of TMAC will automatically override the feed rate to maintain constant horsepower. The result is reduced cycle times, optimised cutting conditions and improved tool life. Simultaneously, the TMAC will reduce air cutting and allow the tool to always run at its optimum level.


The adaptive control system is a necessity for a number of reasons. These include material variations commonplace in castings and forgings, variations in tooling and tool run-out, variations in coolant flow and concentration and contour cutting with a continually changing material thickness and cutter load.


The adaptive control reduces cycle times by an average of 10 to 40% by optimizing feed rates, reducing feed rates in hard spots and increasing them in soft areas or voids. This has recently been demonstrated by a UK customer that continually machines large castings and forgings with material variations. This feature optimizes cycle times and still provides limits to protect the machine and tool. Added to this, a new built-in feature of adaptive control is the ability to control approach and exit feed rates with a fixed value.


The system has vibration monitoring that can be an advantage for non-rotating tools (turning, boring & facing tools), coolant flow monitoring and a multitude of additional tools to view the tool performance live and gather historical data to compile performance reports. 


As can be noted by some of the prestigious customers, the TMAC is ideally suited for the aerospace, automotive, medical and mould & die and casting industries. It is suited to the aerospace sector where defects or scrapping of large and expensive components is unacceptable. The automotive industry that conducts highly repetitive and productive manufacturing also benefits from the reduced tooling costs and improved cycle times. 


This philosophy also applied to general machine shops and manufacturers utilising modern CNC Mill/Turn centres that have the work envelope filled by chucks, components, turrets and tool stations with no space for tool monitoring equipment.  In all these respective sectors, the TMAC will instil confidence in the machine shop staff that will no longer have to constantly monitor machines. Concerns over lights-out machining can also be a thing of the past as the TMAC will eliminate any overnight tool breakages


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