Mitsubishi Materials

Cutting tools a key factor for unmanned lights-out production

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Tool life is an essential aspect of unmanned production runs

"We consulted with Mitsubishi at the very start of the project and they recommended the VQ end mills for the majority of base plate operations. For us, the ability to confidently run unmanned for prolonged periods was crucial," says Formagrind's shop floor manager, Mike John. "Tool life is an essential aspect of this."

Formagrind created a fixture to machine 10 of the smaller guide clamps in a single set-up. The first stage takes over 110 minutes with a 6 mm diameter VQ Series end mill at 4.5 mm depth and is followed by 3, 3.5 and 4 mm diameter VQ end mills for other machining and pocket milling. A 2 mm diameter VFH long neck series with 0.5 mm radius and variable helix provides detail finishing.


The 3.5 mm VQ end mill has a run-time of 55 minutes and hasn't been changed through the complete project, demonstrating life of 550 minutes, on titanium. The 6 mm roughing tool has conducted 4.5 mm deep roughing throughout the complete batch, returning over 20 hours of machining.

The final base plates and top plate covers have now been delivered, after total machining time of 2400 hours. The customer is moving to the next generation electrical assembly and Formagrind will again be providing the clamping bases and guides.