Cutting Tool Edge Preparation

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  • Topic: Machining, Cutting, Tool wear
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  • Published : July 17, 2011
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Various edge preparations are available for PCBN inserts when hard turning, but not all are equal. Parts manufacturers face a conundrum when finishing hardened workpieces. Hard turning is often considered a more flexible, more environmentally benign and higher throughput alternative to grinding. However, grinding is a more reliable process and imparts a higher quality surface finish than hard turning because of issues related to a cutting tool’s geometry, according to Tuğrul Özel, associate professor at Rutgers University’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Users typically apply PCBN insert tools when hard turning because the tool material is harder than carbide. Also, PCBN doesn’t chemically react with ferrous workpieces when cutting them and produce premature tool failure as does PCD.

PCBN tools can withstand the high temperatures associated with hard turning, but PCBN’s metal binder material softens and then fails after the cutting temperature exceeds about 1,200° C, Özel noted.

He added that flank wear, which occurs at the flank face of the minor cutting edge, is followed by crater wear, which predominantly forms on the rake face near the major cutting edge, and edge chipping, which can lead to catastrophic tool failure. To improve the productivity and reliability of hard turning with PCBN tools, impart finer surface finishes and protect the cutting edge—especially around the insert nose—an optimal edge preparation is required.

Courtesy of Conicity Technologies
Cutting tests conducted by Conicity Technologies show tool wear and its direction on PCBN DNGW 150608 inserts with a standard T-land edge preparation (upper left) and Conicity’s waterfall edge preparation (upper right). In addition, the T-land insert produced unstable chip chips (lower left) and the waterfall insert created stable chips (lower right).

Edge Prep Options
Toolmakers try to apply an edge preparation uniform in size and shape on all cutting edges, typically a T-land chamfer or radial style, according to Bill Shaffer, vice president of Conicity Technologies LLC, Latrobe, Pa., a provider of cutting tool edge preparation equipment. A T-land chamfer is the most common edge prep, he added, but while effective at minimizing chipping it presents an “extremely” negative surface to the workpiece, with the cutting corner looking more like a plow than a cutting edge. “With the cutting edge assuming a negative position, the chip being separated from the workpiece exits and basically dives directly into the face of the T-land,” Shaffer said. “That is one of the reasons a T-land tool will fail due to cratering of the cutting edge.”

Shaffer noted that cratering causes two types of tool failure. If a crater is deep enough, a chip can drive into the tool and fracture directly in line with the cutting forces—vertically down the tool’s flank side. Or, if a crater allows a chip to become lodged, the cutting forces become horizontal and fracture the PCBN by cleaving the rake face surface of the tool.

Courtesy of T. Özel et al
A comparison of a uniform edge preparation and a variable edge preparation.

Unlike a T-land, which causes wear to begin at the cutting edge and move toward the center of the tool, a waterfall, or oval, corner profile having a variable edge preparation causes the wear to begin away from the cutting edge and move toward the edge, Shaffer explained. “This delays the distortion of the cutting edge and allows a higher level of chip control,” he said, adding that chips hug the top of an insert with a waterfall hone and effectively exit the cutting zone.

In contrast, chips get pinched between the tool and workpiece and exit vertically with a T-land tool. “There is no real exit avenue for chips with this edge geometry,” Shaffer said.

Compared to a standard radial hone that keeps cutting forces isolated on the tool tangency, the oval geometric profile directs cutting forces off the tangency and deeper...
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