Are Carbide Cutting Tools Better Than Steel?

High-speed steel is still one of the most used materials in machining. It is highly resistant and has incredible sharpness. The best part is that it is a low-cost solution for most of your drilling and milling needs.

However, steel´s sharpness tends to wear off rather quickly and, when plunging into hardened materials, these tools are prone to walk off target. Moreover, they can’t effectively operate at high speeds or heat conditions, which makes them unsuitable for more demanding tasks.

Carbide cutting tools were created to address these issues. But, not only that. HIgh-performance machining, when the most effective technologies and materials are put to use on the shop floor, has allowed enthusiasts and professionals to get closer than ever to having zero defects and negligible unplanned downtime.

But there are a ton of factors to consider before going down the road of HPM. Before investing in fancy machines like a 5-axis CNC, you need to know if they will see any use. The whole point of adopting high-performance machining is to finish your shift with the largest pile of parts you can.

This means that data, speed, grip, and tools are more important than exotic angles.

Data is soon becoming one of the most important things in the manufacturing world. CAM systems now increase removal rates, extend tool life and improve part quality based on toolpath strategies that rely on an ever-increasing amount of data. Nowadays, the competition for higher performance rates is not fought on the bench, but by using the latest toolpath simulation software. These allow you to 3D model your fixtures and tools and discover new ways of reducing downtime even before you fix your workpiece to the station.

However, the best way to take advantage of your advanced CAM system is to make sure your spindle and workholders are up to the task. They need to withstand HPM´s feeds and rotation speeds but also allow for a quick change when needed. We recommend going with zero-point fixturing to increase the efficiency of changing workpieces on the fly, combined with hydraulic chucks for increased grip and accuracy when spinning at extremely high speeds.

Now, none of this would be of any use if you are still feeding HHS cutters to your chuck. Performance gets hit hard by the slow crawl of steel tools. Fortunately, there are manufacturers here in the US that produce robust carbide cutting tools specifically designed for extreme conditions. They are made for speed and are the only tools that can keep up with your increased machine output.

They might be more expensive than steel. However, they have an increased lifespan that goes up to 10 times higher than other tools and can withstand up to 4 times higher temperatures. This reduces downtime and labor costs.

To make sure you take full advantage of your machine and tools, you need to put in place a scientific approach and constantly measure the output. You need to install machine-monitoring sensors on anything that can be measured and establish clear baselines. This will help you identify opportunities for improvement that can be tackled by incrementally changing tool strategies.

Following these recommendations, and documenting every step you take to improve a process, are the only ways to adopt high-performance machining standards. Online Carbide makes the process easier by providing top-of-the-line carbide cutting tools designed to increase the performance of your machine. Contact their customer support today at 630.238.1424 and get free same-day shipping on orders totaling over $250.

For more information about Variable End Mill and Single Pitch Thread Mills Please visit: Online Carbide.