Speeding Production with Digital Tooling

More than product specs for the cloud crowd, this approach to machining setup can massively accelerate things—both the planning and the operation.


Cloud-based tooling data is certainly on a tear. A quick glance at MachiningCloud.com shows that since September 2017 alone, the organization has added cutting tool and related product libraries from KOMET of America Inc., Jergens Inc., Lyndex-Nikken, M.A. Ford, RedLine Tools, LMT Onsrud and Showa Tools. This in addition to such established notables as Ingersoll, Iscar, Kennametal and Seco*, among others, since MachiningCloud opened shop in 2014.

MachiningCloud is essentially a data aggregator—a vendor-agnostic independent provider of product data not only from cutting tool suppliers, but also from CAD/CAM and simulation software products. It hosts this data in the cloud, or for the precise, remote servers with databases accessible by internet-enabled computer networks. Members join by creating an account and accessing data through the MachiningCloud app for import into CAM programming systems, CNC program verification/simulation systems, and other shop software applications.

Not to be dismissed as digital tool catalogs alone, the tool data often contains process knowledge that can speed up production setups and throughput. Digital libraries are no lightweight solution either, as setup people, manufacturing engineers, and shop-floor supervisors can save hours formerly used in accessing product catalogs, cross-referencing tools, assemblies, spare parts, etc., and obtaining the data. Add the process knowledge and you have setup advice and application-specific instructions in a few clicks.

Kennametal’s NOVO application, for example, available through MachiningCloud or directly from the company, shows how process knowledge applies. Users don’t need to search tools, they can state needs from “I need to make a ½-inch hole by 1½-inch deep in ANSI 4140.“ Or they can have a favorite tool in mind and state: “I need a ½-inch by 5xD solid-carbide drill in grade KC7315.” In the first case, the system helps defines machining features to drill a blind hole and then immediately reduces the product set to those that can do the job, taking into account constraint requirements such as material, tolerance and machining sequence for both single tools and multi-tools. The system then ranks the results—based on knowledge-based rules—to best meet the challenges of the application as defined by the customer´s operating environment and user preferences.

In the second case, where a customer already has the preferred tool and grade in mind, smart attribute filters not only quickly select the products available to do the job, but also give options on what cutting item and adaptive item fits and also works with the selected solution. Hours turn into minutes and users get the assurance that the list is both comprehensive, correct and up to date.

In both cases, a tool configurator provides all CAD files and graphic support for all tool components and their assembly—a major time savings for customers.

“NOVO thinks like a process planner,” explains Thomas Long, head of the Virtual Machining RDE department at Kennametal. “It works from the feature back to the tooling strategy. In addition, each order number is tied to application data gleaned from hundreds of subject matter experts and decades of our experience. Request a part number and you also get pictures, assemblies, spare parts lists, as well as inserts that fit. Not only does it accomplish in minutes what formerly took hours, it yields an optimized solution, backed by our expertise, every time.”

Even further, the Job Functionality option is a cloud-based repository linked to a user by a unique ID where tool lists can be stored for future use, editing, copying and sharing. These can be easily downloaded into standard report formats and include tooling commercial and dimensional data and weights, speeds and feeds and photo or CAD model images. Users can leverage NOVO via the tablet of their choice. With Android and Windows Tablet versions of the system available, it brings an element of added mobility and access to your tool list no matter which device you log onto. This also makes it easy for people working on the shop floor with tablets to collaborate with the process planners in other departments.

Tool-specific data is also available through CAM providers such as Esprit (espritcam.com) and Mastercam (mastercam.com). 

Toolpath algorithms take advantage of digital tool definitions to provide safe and efficient motion and generate accurate, in-process stock models that can be leveraged in subsequent operations. Customers can also make use of these models in verification and machine simulation to catch programming errors before the program ever gets to the machine tool.

Chris Merlin, director of portfolio commercialization at WIDIA (widia.com), says digitalization in manufacturing makes product integration a must. Users want their systems to work together seamlessly, via simple solutions, without extra effort. For example, connecting Mastercam and WIDIA NOVO, users can effortlessly join cutting tool data with machining data. The 3D models, drawings and starting parameters are easily available for validation and programming processes. All of this leads to less misapplication of tooling, more optimal machining strategies, and increased productivity with better production quality. 

* komet.com, jergensinc.com, lyndexnikken.com, maford.com, redlinetools.com, onsrud.com, showatool.com, ingersoll-imc.com, iscar.com, kennametal.com/metalworking, secotools.com