Small Indexable Tools for Live Tooling

Live tooling spindles—motorized spindles in a CNC lathe turret that hold a drill, end mill or other tools—have been getting more powerful in recent years: it’s no longer uncommon for them to reach 10,000 rpm at upwards of 5 hp (3.73 kW) for a short time period.

Live tooling spindles—motorized spindles in a CNC lathe turret that hold a drill, end mill or other tools—have been getting more powerful in recent years: it’s no longer uncommon for them to reach 10,000 rpm at upwards of 5 hp (3.73 kW) for a short time period. For applications where smaller features are being machined, the tools of choice have traditionally been round solid carbide tools with diameters of 0.78 in. (20 mm) or less, not indexable tools.

That’s because there has been a concern with securely mounting the insert in the pocket.
But a new line of indexable and interchangeable cutting tools from Iscar Metalworking (iscarmetals.com) has been developed  for use with live tooling on small-feature drilling, milling, and slitting applications, the line includes: 
• Micro and nano-sized indexable milling inserts used with tools that have shank diameters as small as 0.312 in. That smallest one, for example, has two flutes and is capable of taking an 0.125-in. depth of cut. 
• The SumoCham Mini indexable carbide drill series covers the diameter range of 0.158 to 0.232 in. and is available in 3× diameter and 5× diameter lengths. Changing such a tiny insert would be easy to fumble. To ensure precise head alignment and easy installation, the drill comes with a novel installation/extraction key. 
• SlimSlit indexable slitting tools enable slitting as narrow as 0.024-in. wide. The tool design also allows higher chip loads, enabling higher table feeds and thus shorter cycle times.

The company says these tools can equal or better the performance of solid-carbide equivalents while also offering the benefits of indexable tools—high repeatability, lower tool cost and no offsets needed when renewing a tip.—M.A.