Cutting Tool Inserts Wet Blasting

The global gold standard for cutting tool insert finishing

Cutting tool inserts are used in a wide range of machining and metalworking applications to perform numerous cutting, shaping, and finishing operations. Inserts are used in a broad range of industries, including aerospace and defense, medical device and automotive manufacturing, composite material machining and you can even find cutting tool inserts on Mars! Inserts finished in a Vapormatt Tiger wet blasting machine are fitted to the drill on the Mars Rover.

The quality of cutting tool inserts is of paramount importance in the field of machining and metalworking. For the many reasons listed below, the performance, efficiency, and safety of machining operations heavily depend on the quality of the inserts being used.

If you are already familiar with the need for high-quality inserts then jump to the benefits of wet blasting inserts.

  • Performance - High-quality inserts are engineered to provide consistent and predictable performance. They maintain sharp edges, accurate dimensions, and proper geometries, ensuring efficient material removal and precise machining outcomes.
  • Precision - Quality inserts are manufactured with tight tolerances, essential for achieving precise dimensions, surface finishes, and part accuracies. This is especially critical in industries where tight tolerances are required, such as aerospace and medical manufacturing.
  • Tool life - Cutting tool inserts made from high-quality materials and coatings exhibit excellent wear resistance. This leads to extended tool life, reduced tool changeovers, and less downtime, resulting in increased productivity and cost savings.
  • Safety - Poor-quality inserts can lead to premature tool failure, unexpected tool breakage, and potential hazards to operators and machinery. High-quality inserts are designed to withstand the rigors of machining, reducing the risk of accidents, and improving operator safety.
  • Consistency - Quality control measures ensure that each insert within a batch or series meets the same high standards. This consistency in performance and dimensions contributes to stable and predictable machining processes.
  • Material versatility - Quality inserts are designed to handle a wide range of materials, from soft metals to tough alloys. Their superior cutting properties and resistance to wear allow for efficient machining of diverse workpiece materials.
  • Reduced scrap rates - Inserts with consistent performance help maintain uniform part dimensions and surface finishes. This reduces the likelihood of producing out-of-spec parts and subsequently lowers scrap rates. 
Blasting 
Bandsaw Blades 
  • Optimised cutting conditions - High-quality inserts often come with detailed specifications and recommendations for cutting parameters such as cutting speed, feed rate, and depth of cut. Following these guidelines ensures optimal tool performance and prolongs tool life.
  • Higher productivity - Quality inserts enable higher cutting speeds and material removal rates, leading to increased productivity and shorter cycle times. This is particularly important in high-volume manufacturing environments.
  • Cost effectiveness - While high-quality inserts might have a higher upfront cost, their extended tool life and improved performance result in lower overall tooling costs over the long term. This includes savings from reduced tool replacements, downtime, and material waste.
  • Surface finish - Inserts designed for quality performance often create smoother surface finishes on workpieces. This can reduce the need for secondary finishing processes and improve part aesthetics.
  • Process stability - Quality inserts contribute to stable machining processes with minimal vibration and chatter, leading to improved surface finish, reduced tool wear, and longer tool life.
  • Customer satisfaction - Using high-quality inserts helps manufacturers deliver consistent and reliable products to their customers. This enhances the reputation of the manufacturer and fosters customer satisfaction.

Investing in high-quality cutting tool inserts pays off in terms of improved performance, longer tool life, enhanced safety, and increased productivity.

Given all the advantages of high-quality inserts, manufacturers typically prioritise sourcing them from reputable suppliers and adhere to proper maintenance and usage practices to maximise the benefits.

Wet blasting finishes cutting tool inserts to the high-quality standards demanded by manufacturers.

Finishing cutting tool inserts by wet blasting, also known as wet abrasive blasting or vapor blasting, offers several benefits that can contribute to improved tool performance, longevity, and overall machining quality. Wet blasting involves using a mixture of abrasive media and water under pressure to remove surface contaminants, refine surface finishes, and enhance the properties of cutting tool inserts. Learn how the wet blasting process works by visiting our 'What is wet blasting?' page. Here are the main advantages:

  • Deburring and cleaning - Wet blasting removes burrs, sharp edges, and excess material from inserts, resulting in a more precise and consistent geometry. Additionally, it cleans the inserts from manufacturing residues, improving their overall quality.
  • Edge honing - Wet blasting can round and hone cutting edges to a specific radius on inserts, reducing heat build-up in the cutting edge and the likelihood of chipping, curling, micro-cracking, or premature wear at the edges. This contributes to extended tool life and better performance. It also eliminates the need for the tool to be ‘worn in’, allowing it to be used at full speed from new.
  • Application of a specific K-Factor – A key aspect of edge honing is the application of a specific K-Factor to the edge hone. This makes a big difference in cutting performance and durability. Wet blasting can apply a waterfall or trumpet profile to cutting edges, or anything in between.
  • Surface preparation for coating - Wet blasting removes any residual contaminants, oxidation, or coatings from insert surfaces. This prepares the insert for subsequent coating processes or use, ensuring proper adhesion of coatings and consistent tool performance. In fact, for coatings to adhere properly, inserts must be finished to a specific surface roughness (Ra) and be spotlessly clean.
  • Stress relief - Wet blasting can help relieve residual stresses that may have built up during the manufacturing process. This can enhance the mechanical properties and fatigue resistance of the inserts.
  • Post-coating finishing – Wet blasting removes all coating imperfections, like coating droplets, to leave a uniform surface with an optimum Ra, so the inserts operate more efficiently.
  • Post-coating peening – The wet blasting process converts tensile stresses in the coating to compressive stresses, which in turn dramatically improves the durability of the coating. 
 
Cutting tool insert in action
  • Selective coating removal – Wet blasting can remove specific layers of coating on specific surfaces to reveal the correct coating for the required task, a coating that facilitates better heat removal for example.
  • Precision and control – Wet blasting systems allow for precise control over parameters such as water flow rate, pressure, and abrasive mixture. In fact, wet blasting allows more process control than any other finishing process. This enables operators to precisely tailor the process to the specific requirements of each cutting tool insert type.
  • Consistency - Wet blasting provides a controlled and repeatable process, ensuring that each insert receives the same treatment, leading to consistent tool performance and reliability.
  • Environmentally friendly – Wet blasting does not use harmful chemicals that are difficult to dispose of and it is a process that recycles blast media and water for even greater efficiency.
  • Health and safety - Wet blasting generates less dust and airborne contaminants compared to dry blasting methods, creating a safer and cleaner working environment for operators. Our wet blasting machines typically run below the noise levels that require ear protection.
  • Flexible Abrasive Selection - Wet blasting can use a variety of abrasive media, allowing operators to choose the most suitable option for achieving the desired surface finish and properties on different types of cutting tool inserts. See our abrasive blast media guide for more information. For inserts, we would typically recommend an aluminium oxide abrasive media for best results.

The world’s leading cutting tool insert manufacturers choose our wet blasting machines for their insert finishing. Our automatic Tiger and Tiger + wet blasting machines have firmly established themselves as the global gold standard for large scale insert manufacturers.

Our Tiger + machine has an additional blast chamber that allows two different finishing processes on a single run through the machine, or increased productivity if both chambers are set to perform the same function.

Watch videos of our standard Tiger, a Tiger that’s modified to be highly automated for insert pre-coating preparation, and our next-generation Tiger designed for inserts with complex three-dimensional geometries.

Vapormatt Tiger, the global gold standard for cutting tool insert finshing

See how the clever use of automation produces a highly efficient surface finishing system configured for cutting tool insert pre coating preparation

Next generation automatic system for the edge honing of inserts with complex three-dimensional geometries

We don’t just cater for the largest inserts manufacturers though; we have an extensive range of automatic machines designed to process inserts. The breadth of the range allows us to supply a finishing solution to suit all manufacturers form the smallest to the world’s largest.

Suitable for replaceable inserts of varying geometries, our high precision cutting tool inserts wet blasting machines are extremely controllable, reliably delivering a consistent finish every time.

Contact us to discuss how our world-leading wet blasting technology can help your cutting tool insert manufacturing operation.

Cutting tool inserts brochure, case studies and white paper

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