Leveraging carbide

The use of carbide tools can save a lot of time and money in machining operations. And sophisticated technologies are making carbide production more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Explore the process chain at Ceratizit.

Solvent-free powder compounds

At its Reutte plant, Ceratizit produces dozens of grades of carbide, from ultrafine through to coarse-grained. And all of them are manufactured using the environmentally compatible water-spray technology. This involves milling compounds of tungsten carbide and cobalt in water and then spray-drying the slurry. This produces free-flowing granulate that is then able to be pressed. The benefits of water-spray technology include a significant reduction in power consumption as a result of shorter milling times, avoidance of environmentally harmful emissions compared with solvent-based technologies, and the high quality of the resulting granulate.

Clean exhaust air

Extrusion is a typical shaping process used for manufacturing carbide rods. Binders are added to the carbide granulate and different extrusion processes are used to form round rods, even featuring cooling ducts. These are then dried. At this stage, a proportion of the binder is removed from the extruded products in a thermal process. This escapes into the exhaust air. Ceratizit has developed a cleaning process to get the purity of this exhaust air well within statutory thresholds.
This involves oxidizing the substances contained in the exhaust air in a combustion chamber. The purified hot air flows into a further combustion chamber and releases most of the thermal energy it contains. This cooled, clean gas then leaves the system at the same temperature as when it entered. This makes the process highly energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

Intelligent use of raw materials

Many tools only wear in a limited area when they are used. The rest of the tool is virtually unaffected by wear. To save costs and resources, it makes sense if only the region that is subject to wear is made from carbide, with the rest of the tool being made from less expensive materials. Many tools are therefore made from carbide and steel composites. Thus, for example, carbide saw teeth are brazed onto a blade and indexable cutting inserts are bolted to steel carriers. When this is done, the join between the carbide and the steel is of special significance. It must be designed in such a way that all the forces that arise when the tool is used can be transmitted.
A number of different joining techniques such as resistance welding, brazing or bolting are used here. In the case of welding and brazing, the wettability of the surfaces of both materials plays a key role. Alongside the use of flux, the carbide parts are coated with cobalt or nickel. This considerably strengthens the join and also makes it possible to reuse the steel element by unbrazing the worn carbide parts and brazing on new ones.

Different raw material grades

And Ceratizit has applied a similar principle to the development of carbide rods, with the top quality (and hence most expensive) material only being used where it is really needed, namely in the region of the cutting edge. For the shaft of the rod, on the other hand, standard grade carbide has proven to be perfectly adequate. The shaft and the cutting edge are joined seamlessly and invisibly. In such tools, the carbide is more than three times as rigid as steel. Standard grade carbide is manufactured with a high proportion of secondary raw materials, which consume less resources. The result: The resulting carbide rod performs at least as well as its single-section counterpart and has a better environmental footprint, coupled with a noticeable reduction in costs.

Carefully considered product design

What does the customer really need? And where are the hidden cost drivers? This is the question Ceratizit asked when considering circular saws. There is virtually no other tool that is used as often as the circular saw when it comes to separating materials. In particular when machining laminated particle board and fiber board for the furniture industry, the circular saw rapidly loses its sharpness and the cutting quality deteriorates. And it is therefore common practice in the industry to regularly remove the tools and sharpen the saw teeth to bring them up to scratch again. But sharpening consumes grinding wheels, cooling water and power, not to mention the machine downtime and wastage when restarting the production line. If one looks at the total costs of traditional circular saws, the sharpening costs amount to 100 to 200 percent of the original price of the tool. This insight led to Ceratizit developing a cutting material specially for machining wood. It sharpens itself during the sawing process, thus making any further sharpening unnecessary. Tests carried out by circular saw operators over a period of several months confirmed the sharpening effect and have proved that innovative tool solutions make it possible to use new saws in a way that consumes less resources and is at the same time economical.

Productive tool

Against the backdrop of global competition, the manufacturing industry is faced with the challenge of constantly reducing costs while at the same time leading the way in terms of innovation and quality. But new materials and the rapid change in expectations with respect to the quality and flexibility of machining operations on the part of the aerospace and automotive industries, for example, confront manufacturers the world over with new challenges each and every day. And machine builders and tool manufacturers also have to face up to the same challenges, as productivity and competitiveness rely on a machining process that is both highly efficient and perfectly matched to requirements. To achieve this, the tool systems must perform as required in terms of reliability, machining performance and the resulting productivity. The three examples below show highly efficient tool systems and cutting material grades that reduce production time and warehousing costs and save energy:

The Maxidrill 900 drilling tool machines a high-alloy steel gearbox ring at a higher cutting speed and an increased advance rate. 150 holes were drilled instead of 120, and there was less wear.

A number of different comparative tests have shown that the Ecocut multi-function tool significantly reduces processing times when drilling and turning components. Furthermore, the reliability of the process reduces machine downtime and greatly simplifies stock management. Example: When machining a clutch hub, it was possible to drill 140 holes instead of 100 at an increased cutting speed and with improved chip control. Alongside the performance and associated productivity of cutting tools, the price per effective cutting edge is seen as a selection criterion in the machining industry.

Ceratizit’s A273 face milling cutter features a direct-pressed, two-sided, octagonal indexable cutting insert with positive clearance angles on both sides. Because it is two-sided, users get 16 effective cutting edges on a single, direct-pressed indexable cutting insert. Another contribution to conserving resources, as less carbide is used to achieve greater cutting performance.

Systematic raw material savings

Drills, milling tools or indexable cutting inserts: Ceratizit strives to systematically reduce raw materials in the carbide used in tools. To achieve this, the Plansee Group is gradually expanding return and collection capabilities for tools that have reached the end of their service life and is further developing the technology for creating secondary raw materials. It is also increasing production capacity in this area, most recently by acquiring the Finnish company Tikomet. Within the Plansee Group, more than 50 percent of the materials used already come from secondary raw materials.