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ITC solves deep machining mystery for subcontractor
ITC solves deep machining mystery for subcontractor
ITC solves deep machining mystery for subcontractor
ITC solves deep machining mystery for subcontractor

ITC solves deep machining mystery for subcontractor

Added to MTDCNC by ITC LTD on 26 November 2013

On a trip to MACH to investigate new tooling and CAD/CAM solutions, it was a visit to the ITC stand that resolved numerous tooling problems that faced the Advanced Engineering Division of Fine Cut. Producing mould tooling, 3D modelling and complex components for a diverse range of industry sectors, the Lancing based company specialises in the 5-axis machining of aluminium and resin board mould tools.

Initially, the surface finishes on some of its mould tools were a concern to Fine Cut and it is the pursuit of manufacturing excellence of the Fine Cut engineers that led them to investigate potential new solutions at MACH. With deep cavity machining on many mould tools; tool deflection and rigidity severely affected the surface finishes and this in turn led to extensive hand finishing processes. To eliminate this post machining task, Fine Cut introduced ITC’s 2001 and 2131 Cyber Series of long reach carbide cutters with radii. With an overall reach from 100mm up to 200mm, the long reach cutters are ideal for many mould cavities. For deeper cavities, the West Sussex business combines the ITC cutters with Schunk Tribos tool holder extensions. This enables the 5-axis head of the machine tool to conduct complex machining forms in cavities beyond 250mm deep.

As Fine Cut’s CAD/CAM Manager, Mr Danny Welsh comments: 'We initially tried the ITC long series tools on jobs where we had tool reach and surface finish issues that were created by previous tooling vendors. Immediately the surface finish improved and it drastically reduced our hand finishing. From this point we tried additional ITC cutters – and they all performed remarkably well. I firmly believe in buying quality equipment for our machine shop as it makes the job a lot easier.'

On a recent project to machine a fluid tank mould tool from aluminium, Fine Cut introduced ITC's extra long reach 2142 aluminium ball nosed 12mm diameter cutters. As Mr Welsh continues: 'In instances when our 5-axis machines have been busy, we have used the 2142 cutters on a 3-axis Dugard Eagle for roughing and profiling the mould tools. The 12mm diameter 2142 Series ball nose is such a rigid and robust cutter that we use it for machining the complete 150mm deep cavity. The surface finishes have been impeccable. The finishes are so fine that we can machine with a 0.5mm step-over as opposed to 0.1mm with some of our other cutting tools. This increased step over also improves our cycle times and productivity rates.'

Despite the ITC cutters improving productivity times, the priority for Fine Cut is product quality, as Mr Welsh continues: 'The majority of our jobs are one off tools, so shaving a few minutes off a job is of no consequence to us. We have a 3.6m bed on our 5-axis machine and we often machine large aluminium billets above 200kg, with such large jobs production times can be days, so saving a few minutes is of little relevance.'

The success of the first ITC cutters made such an impression in the Finecut machine shop, the company acquired additional cutters. Beaming with delight, Mr Welsh continues: 'With the solid carbide ITC cutters we can comfortably machine beyond 200mm deep cavities with a 12mm diameter end mill. This cutter operates at over 15,000rpm with a 5m/min feed rate to deliver exceptional surface finishes. This is credit to the rigidity of the tool and its holder.'

Fine Cut serves virtually all industry sectors and this is highlighted by some of its recent projects that include mould tools for mechanical diggers, a kayak, Hi-Fi speakers, medical X-ray machines, jerry cans and toys for a children’s charity.

'With such a diverse workload we now use ITC’s BritCut range with a long flute length for roughing our mould tools and a range of standard and long length square and ball nosed cutters from 6 to 20mm diameter for general machining and finishing operations. For machining brass castings we have been using ITC’s 4041 Series of harmonic flute end mills.'

'The ITC representative has always proven knowledgeable and very keen to provide advice. This exceptional level of service is another reason why we are delighted to use ITC tools. As the business moves forward and our work increases in complexity with new challenges, we will be looking to ITC to support us in meeting these challenges by providing special tooling that ITC can manufacture in the UK to our exact specifications,' concludes Mr Welsh.

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