Mapal Drill is company’s first series product made with metal additive manufacturing

Editor: Eric Culp

Germany - Mapal said it invested in a 3D printer in 2013 in order to pioneer new ways of producing tools by means of laser sintering.

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The indexable insert drill QTD for the diameter range below 13 mm.
The indexable insert drill QTD for the diameter range below 13 mm.
(Source: Mapal)

The supplier has reported that its first project has been brought to series-production maturity: The indexable insert drill QTD for the diameter range 9 to 12mm.

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Mapal explained that laser sintering technology offers manufacturers of precision tools with a great degree of design freedom. Within the space of the laser printer, tool geometries can be created unhindered by machine clamps, tools and production means. A broad and continually expanding range of materials is also available for the laser sintering process.

The company said it has therefore tried to produce tools by laser sintering that cannot or not optimally be produced by conventional means. One example are small diameters of the indexable insert drill QTD, which was originally brought to the market in 2013.

The QTD has been available as standard from 13mm diameter. Responsible for this is, among other facts, the cooling duct in the basic tool body, Mapal explained.

Normally, in tool bodies with constant helical pitch for insert drills, the coolant is fed centrally to the front where it is then distributed to the inserts via a Y-fork. The smaller the tool body, the more this coolant supply system impairs the performance of the tool, because the central coolant supply weakens the core of the drill and makes it unstable.

Furthermore, the coolant channels have to be made increasingly smaller, which cuts coolant flow rate to the insert at the front. Steel tool bodies with the spiral cooling ducts are not yet common in small diameters, according to the company.

The use of laser sintering for the tool body opens up new degrees of geometric freedom, the supplier noted. Compared with the central coolant supply with diversions, this design permits a 100% increased flow rate, thanks especially to the deviation from the circular coolant channel profile.

Tools made with both conventional and additive production can improve the cost-effectiveness of production, the company added.

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