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Aero Subcontractor Takes-Off With ITC

Published: 1 July 2019 - Sarah Mead

A Preston aerospace subcontractor has benefitted from the technical expertise of Industrial Tooling Corporation (ITC) and its exceptionally diverse product line-up. Always striving for improvements in a cost and quality-conscious industry sector, the North West subcontract company is home to a host of 3 and 5-axis machine tools from DMG MORI, Mazak and Hurco.

With accreditations from OEM’s like Airbus, BAE Systems, Leonardo , Gardner, Magellan and many more, the Preston Company relies upon the quality, precision and productivity of its machine tools and cutting tools, as well as the skill set of its staff. This is why the company has invested in cutting tools from Tamworth based ITC. 

The company challenged ITC with the task of improving upon the productivity of an existing tool on a profile machining operation on an Aluminium solid billet sub-assembly for the aerospace industry. Working against an existing 50mm diameter shell mill tool from a prominent tooling manufacturer, ITC Technical Sales Engineer, Mr Gary Murrey introduced the Widia VHSC indexable face milling range with impressive results. The existing 50mm diameter shell mill tool with four insert pockets was running at 11,000rpm with machining parameters in the region of 1700m/min with a 4000mm feed rate and 4.5mm depth of cut. The new range of Widia VHSC end mills incorporate a proprietary pocket design that enables this aerospace customer to integrate multiple insert radii one body type if necessary, creating impressive flexibility. Furthermore, the inserts retain their axial positioning regardless of the insert corner nose radius. The high speed aluminium profiling and pocket milling range permits heavy feeding and ramping whilst the flute design and internal coolant channels are engineered to evacuate chips with the utmost efficiency.

This best-in-class solution  was applied with a 2mm radius insert (XDET 16M520FRALP WN10HM) and it is running at 1800m/min with a spindle speed of 11450rpm and a feed of 0.2mm per tooth, which equates to 9m/min feed rate. The 4.5mm depth of cut has been retained, however the increased stability of the Widia VHSC is now offering the aerospace customer the opportunity to increase the depth of cut to further advance cycle time reductions. However, with an initial cycle time reduction in the region of 50% over a leading competitor, this prominent aerospace manufacturer is already delighted with the improved cycle time and extended tool life. The cycle time for the aluminium solid billet sub-assembly with the Widia VHSC was 12minutes and 18 seconds, more than 50% less than the previous cycle time. Not only did the ITC solution improve cycle times for this end user, it also equated to a unit price reduction of 40%.

This performance is largely credit to the tool body design and the high-speed cutting XDET-ALP insert geometry. This super positive ALP geometry is manufactured from wear-resistant micro-grain carbide that has a polished rake face to reduce built-up edges. The inserts are offered with two geometries, the FR-ALP with an ultra sharp cutting edge for rough to finish machining on lower powered machine tools that demand low cutting forces. The ER-ALP designated inserts have a honed cutting edge and high-strength geometry for rough machining and the processing of cast components and other challenging aluminium applications.

The multi-purpose insert seats permit the installation of both large and small corner radii inserts, a feature that offers a great impact on costs for the end user. This cost saving is credit to the insert seats that allow customers to load inserts with corner radii from R0.4 to R6.0mm. regardless of the chosen insert, the axial gauge length on the cutter will always be the same and the Ap1 max will always remain 16mm.


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