Cutting tools, used in the latest generation of machining centres, have to conform to ever higher standards of performance and accuracy. To achieve this, tooling manufacturers and reconditioning companies need to exploit the best methods of achieving a precise cutting edge, for optimum accuracy and longevity. Today, wet blasting is offering a powerful method of creating precise cutting edge profiles to within a few microns, says Tim Berry, application specialist.
The increasing performance demands on machine tools and rising market competition has driven a need for new cutting tool technologies. Improved macro and micro geometry of the cutting edge is essential to enhance and extend cutting tool performance and tool life. To ensure a stable performance of the cutting tool it is important to achieve a homogeneous rounding along the major and minor cutting edge and corner and to that end there has been much research and development over recent years to achieve greater accuracy and control in edge preparation.
As a global industry, metalworking must make use of technologies that have the capability to improve the surface finish, strength and lifespan of tooling. Wet blasting is a highly effective process that combines compressed air, abrasive media and water in a slurry form to clean and prepare surfaces. The water creates a lubricating effect, which increases the flow of particles across the surface being treated. Unlike dry blasting, the liquid cushion also protects delicate surfaces whilst eliminating any potentially harmful dust. Wet blasting results in surfaces that are extremely clean and reactive, with no embedded secondary contamination from the media. To provide simultaneous cleaning and degreasing, the water can be heated and mild detergent added to ensure the effective removal of oily surface contamination.
The most advanced wet blasting systems use powerful software programs to combine and monitor precisely controlled flows of liqud, gas and solids, which are mixed then accelerated through focused blasting nozzles. Changing the air and slurry pressures, blast abrasive, slurry concentration, number and angle of attack of the blasting nozzles allows for a range of processing effects to be achieved, from harsh to soft. For example, media concentration, process temperature, additive and blast pressures can be carefully controlled to provide an extremely consistent surface finish that can be reproduced time after time.
With such benefits to be gained it is hardly surprising that designers and engineers are continuing to refine the process with new innovations, allowing tool manufacturers to take greater control of their edge preparation processes. EMO Hannover has played a large part in the global machine tool industry, connecting suppliers with buyers and showcasing some of the most exciting technology available. For the 2013 show EMO’s organisers chose the theme ‘Intelligence in production’, and the product chosen by Vapormatt to illustrate this was the Programmable Gun Crown. This innovation enables tool manufacturers to extend tool operating life, improve surface quality and increase production capacity.
The Vapormatt programmable gun crown increases the number of blasting parameters that can be programmed for edge preparation and is compatible with a range of machines, enabling users to achieve exceptional results on a variety of different tool sets.
In summary, wet blasting offers exceptionally high quality results that are increasingly being recognised across many applications. And because no harsh chemicals are used - and no dust is created - wet blasting machines reduce waste and are kinder to the environment, as well as delivering the best possible surface finish. It is now time for the industry to work harder and smarter to extend tooling life expectancy.