Special Report Inside the production: Dormer Pramet in the Czech Republic

Author Rosemarie Stahl

Last year, Dormer Pramet in Šumperk, Czech Republic, inaugurated its Experience Centre. During a tour of the new and old buildings, the manufacturer of indexable inserts presented itself as an innovative company with a comprehensive R&D department and state-of-the-art technology.

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The Dormer & Pramet production is located in Šumperk, Czech Republic.
The Dormer & Pramet production is located in Šumperk, Czech Republic.
(Source: Stahl/ETMM)

Šumperk is a small city, located roughly three hours east of Prague. To get there, you have to cross many kilometres of deep Czech forest. At the end of this trip, visitors are met by a long-standing company, which drives its products and developments forward with great innovative power.

In 1951, Pramet started in Šumperk with the production of sintered carbide. Since then, it has grown into a company that recorded the production of 22.5 million indexable inserts in 2011. Since 1999, the company has belonged to the Sandvik Group. In 2014, Dormer Tools and Pramet Tools merged, creating Dormer Pramet. Today, Dormer Pramet has more than 1,400 employees all over the world. The production units are located in Šumperk and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The company is a global supplier of tools for the metal-cutting industry with an impressive range of products.

The core range of Dormer Pramet is built around an assortment of high-quality, fit-for-purpose hole-making, milling, turning and threading tools and features everything from solid to indexable, high-speed steel to solid carbide, general purpose and high-performance application tooling.

The company’s main customer focus is on the general engineering sector, although its products can be found in diverse environments ranging from maintenance departments to international railway, automotive and aerospace manufacturers, and – last but not least – tool and mould-makers.

The production area in Šumperk covers 13,500m². Here, roughly 20 million indexable inserts are produced. Most of them (around 80%) are standard inserts, the rest are special or custom-built models. Šumperk is home of Dormer Pramet's indexable inserts as well as many other departments. It serves as the sales headquarters for Central and Eastern Europe and is also home to company R&D, logistics, marketing and product management departments.

From powder to tools for cutting hard-to-machine materials

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The existence of Dormer Pramet’s tools starts in the form of powder. Overall, the company uses 44 different powder materials in various combinations for its indexable inserts. These are produced with dies that are manufactured by the company itself. Some 350 different dies are used by Dormer Pramet for its inserts. Depending on the size and geometry of the inserts, hydraulic and electrical presses are used with a compaction pressure of up to 50 tonnes. This process results in inserts that are bound by a sole mechanical strength (also called “green strength”), making it possible to move them without damaging their form before they are hardened.

Afterwards, the inserts are moved to the next production hall in which the sintering process takes place. This heat treatment gives them the needed strength for machining hard materials. During this process, the inserts are exposed to temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 degrees celsius. The parts shrink during this treatment and are hardened.

The next production step is the grinding stage, giving the inserts their final surface and geometry. Periphery grinding, chamfering, top and bottom grinding and cutting edge rounding are all part of the final machining process. The final steps are cleaning and coating. The inserts feature either physical vapour deposition (PVD) or chemical vapour deposition (CVD).

Live demonstrations and intensive testing at new centre

The front part of the first floor of the Experience Centre was designed after Pramet’s signature product, the indexable insert.
The front part of the first floor of the Experience Centre was designed after Pramet’s signature product, the indexable insert.
(Source: Stahl/ETMM)

To best serve customer interests, Dormer Pramet has built a new Experience Centre on its premises in Šumperk. The goal is to concentrate expertise from around the world and develop new products and features in the field of indexable and round tools.

The XP Centre is home to the company's materials team, which focuses on researching the properties of substrates, developing new CVD and PVD coatings and improving the implementation of the cutting edge. It also features a laboratory equipped with state-of-the-art technology, such as electron microscopes, 3D scanners and a machine for measuring material wear during repeated stress.

The core of the Experience Centre is a testing room equipped with modern machine tools and measuring equipment. This allows Dormer Pramet to test the functional properties of product prototypes and verify whether the cutting tool meets expectations. In addition to testing, the Experience Centre is also equipped for training courses. Not only Dormer Pramet’s own sales team can be trained here: Customers also have the chance to experience the tools live and test their machining capabilities directly on different machines.