Optimising machining parameters “Tap Test” avoids tool chatter and boosts milling productivity

Editor: MA Alexander Stark

UK — For generations, machine operators have tentatively followed the prescribed cutting speeds and feeds based on manufacturer recommendations, having to later reduce cutting parameters and productivity rates based upon excessive tool vibration and deflection. The new Millmax service from MSC analyses and records the frequencies of these vibrations and interprets the data to provide the customer with the optimal machining parameters.

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The new Millmax system from MSC.
The new Millmax system from MSC.
(Source: MSC)

Any engineer knows the consequences of cutting tool vibration when undertaking milling operations can be disastrous. Excessive vibration and tool deflection will instigate poor surface finishes, reduced tool life and accuracy — subsequently increasing costs through inferior cutting tool performance. Add in the potential for catastrophic tool failure and the cost escalation can be huge. To avoid these issues, MSC Industrial Supply has introduced the MSC Millmax service.

The new service undertakes a simple “tap test” that analyses and records the frequencies of the tool in a matter of minutes. MSC experts can interpret the information from the system and provide the end-user with a new set of optimised machining parameters based upon the tap test. Easy to set up, the process only requires a vibration sensor to be attached to the cutting tool to record the data and an impact test with a nylon impact instrument that has a built-in vibration sensor to register the sensitivity of the tap. When the sensor is attached to the cutting tool, and the tap test is conducted, the resonance and frequency of the cutting tool are recorded.

From this, the Millmax software first determines whether the impact instrument has connected with the cutting tool sufficiently with a “go and no-go” result and when the connection is successful, Millmax correlates the information from the sensors with input parameters completed by an MSC engineering expert — realising the optimal cutting parameters. This intricate scientific test is conducted at speed with cutting tool data and the subsequent machining parameters now determined in minutes instead of hours.

Through an intuitive and easy to use dashboard, the MSC engineer can apply the Dynamic Cutting Calculator within Millmax to create a new set of speed and feed parameters as well as generating the optimal cutting width and depth associated with the material it is cutting. Correlating the data from the frequency and deflection of the cutting tool and combining this with pre-defined parameters from the operator such as the material, machine, max spindle configuration and tool type — the Millmax can significantly improve productivity. Furthermore, Millmax reduces spindle load and power consumption whilst prolonging the service life of machine tools.

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