Tools When individual ‘problem solutions’ become the standard

From Ahlam Rais

Cutting speeds and tool life often determine the development of tools. However, targeted problem solving is often disregarded in the process. Instead of constant product innovations, OSG concentrates on user-specific solutions.

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In tool and mould making, process reliability has top priority; it is not so much about how long a machining operation runs that counts, but rather the result.
In tool and mould making, process reliability has top priority; it is not so much about how long a machining operation runs that counts, but rather the result.
(Source: OSG)

To be listed as a tool manufacturer in the automotive industry, high-quality tools alone are not enough. In addition to certification, delivery and quality reliability, the automotive and supplier industries also expect a corresponding organisation as part of the global orientation. Processes must be jointly developed and supported with sound competence on site worldwide. In these industries, the procurement of tools is usually done by the purchasing department, and price is the decisive factor. However, if shift supervisors or production managers are involved in procurement, tools are scrutinised in detail. Performance, cycle times, tool life and economic efficiency in general are then in the foreground.

In tool and mould making, on the other hand, according to Magnus Hoyer, head of the OSG Academy, things look quite different: "In this industry, process reliability has top priority, it is less important what a tool costs, how long a machining operation runs, but rather the result that is vital. In my experience, in our workshops we deal exclusively with very competent experts who are very fit when it comes to tools. They look at geometries, the twist, sometimes even under a magnifying glass, and then judge whether it works. In series production, it is particularly interesting to see the tool under chip, where the questions focus on possible cutting data."

So, these two industries alone make it clear how different the requirements are. This already starts with procurement. In series production, one invests for a component that will come in a certain batch size in the foreseeable future. For the customer and tool manufacturer, this has the advantage that they have a period of time to carry out tests in-house or at the customer's premises. The ideal solution can then be found on the basis of findings about dimensional accuracy, surfaces or an assessment of wear.

The situation is completely different in tool and mould making. Tests cannot take place here, except for recurring or similar components. The time to find a tool that works immediately is therefore very tight. Competent application consultants are therefore crucial here. Depending on the material, a shape, surfaces, strategies in pre-machining, finishing and also the machine tool have to be assessed in order to find the appropriate tool. According to Hoyer, this works so efficiently at OSG because they can fall back on corresponding experience and an extensive product portfolio.

An example of ‘facing problems and finding solutions’ is spiralised deep hole drilling with a drilling depth of 60 x D. When machining a gear shaft, the aim was to reduce machining times and at the same time increase machine utilisation. The problem with this machining process was that the material is considered to be very tough, problematic in chip formation and the machining is done with minimum quantity lubrication. Within the scope of this project, OSG consistently implemented R-flaking. This development optimises chip formation in such a way that extremely short, homogeneous chips are produced and will also be used in other OSG drills in the future.

Now OSG also advertises the fact that the customer gets everything from a single source, i.e. geometries, coatings and substrates for the tools. And here, too, customer requirements differ. While this goes down well with series production, because the focus is on long-term safety, on quality even after 2,000 bores, tool and mould making understandably attaches less importance to this. The tool must function and why it does so is of little interest.

To sum it up, it is not about presenting numerous new developments every year, but rather about orienting oneself to customer requirements and also facing ‘problematic machining’ individually.

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