Editor’s note: This information was presented in the webcast “Tooling Technology: Solutions to Optimize Productivity” which broadcast in July. It can be heard on-demand at WoodworkingNetwork.com/webcasts.

Methods for optimizing cutting tool productivity, as well as company profitability, in the woodworking shop were discussed recently in a special webcast, “Tooling Technology: Solutions to Optimize Productivity.” Weighing in on the discussion, Leitz Tooling Systems’ Mark Alster and Scott Burton of Royce//Ayr Cutting Tools addressed a number of developments including the use of dust extraction hoods and tooling accessories, as well as tooling geometries and compositions which are enabling woodworkers to cut materials quickly with reduced waste and down time.

Dust Collection for Tooling

Gaining attention has been the need for optimized dust extraction systems for tooling. Not only does poor extraction jeopardize the safety of the plant and employees as a possible contributor to a combustible dust fire, but it also causes premature tool wear and damage and increases the likelihood of production downtime due to cleaning, repair and maintenance.

According to Alster, tools and dust collection systems must work in conjunction with each other to move dust away from the tool and into the extraction system.

“The standard geometry of a cutting tool forces the dust back up, directly into the path of the cutting tool, thereby creating significant unnecessary damage to the tool itself,” Alster said. “This can be overcome by establishing geometry within the gullets, which allows the dust and chips to slide away from the tool and away from the cutting chips.”

Well-designed dust hoods, Alster added, will work in conjunction with the tool to contain and evacuate chips and wood dust, while returning clean air back to the work environment.

Another method of dust extraction at the tool is through the tool body designs, Burton noted. These allow the air to flow upward through the tool body. This results in reduced heat generation on the cutting tool for prolonged tool life. “This is not a solution for [pure] dust extraction, but a vacuum to assist other elements of dust extraction on the machine.”

When using dust fans, Burton noted, important considerations include: ensure the tool fits in the machine tool position; ensure the fan is running at the proper height above the material; ensure workers are wearing proper ear protection as the fans will increase the noise in the woodshop; and whenever possible, program the machine to avoid small parts that can be pulled into the fan.

Tooling Solutions for Materials

Also discussed were developments in tooling composition and geometry for cutting advanced materials, including polycrystalline diamond with chipbreaker geometry and solid carbide with coating.

Benefits of the diamond option with the chipbreaker geometry, Burton noted, include increased tool life and the ability to achieve a premium cut quality with optimal feed rates. Using solid carbide with coating results in increased hardness/wear resistance, a lower friction coefficient for less heat and better chip evacuation, and a reduced chance of premature cutting edge failure because of the increased resistance to heat.

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