Process evaluation, improvements

Purpose-built cutting tool technologies help increase an aerospace component manufacturer’s machining effectiveness when facing production challenges of difficult-to-machine materials with challenging part features (ribs, pockets, radii, etc.).

The machining challenges of the aerospace industry are countless. Materials are increasingly difficult to machine and the continual need to make parts lighter increases the amount of material required to be removed. This increases part complexity which, in turn, creates additional manufacturing challenges. Add to this the rising global demand for air travel and subsequent need for new commercial jets to ferry the world’s population to their destinations, you have the perfect storm for the machine shop to meet deliveries.

“It can be a lot of pressure at times,” states Bill Moore, Engineering Manager of Precision Cast Parts, Klune Operation (Spanish Fork, UT). “The need to immediately do more with our production assets has challenged both our staff and our suppliers to work closely together to formulate, evaluate, and implement new ideas on a continual basis. Our success as a manufacturing team is tied to our philosophy to continually do more with what we have.”

“PCC Klune is a producer of a wide range of complex airframe components and assemblies,” says Hassan Narasimhan, ISCAR Regional Manager. “A great example of a company excelling at continuous improvement through the implementation of new technologies.”

“I have to admit, there have been some very challenging milling improvement goals over the past year,” says Weston Peterson, ISCAR Applications. “One example was the implementation of a new extended flute indexable milling cutter called XQUAD to remove as much material as possible with consideration of forces exerted on the machine and fixturing.”

“After implementing the XQUAD,” comments Chad Jenkins, ISCAR RTS, “Iscar was able to mill a full slot in titanium at a depth of 2XD running 160sfm with 0.0035 feed per tooth (fpt). This equates to 16.8in3 of material removed per minute.”

Photos courtesy of Iscar Metals

“Although full slot milling is not usually the norm with this style cutter,” states Tom Raun, ISCAR National Milling Manager, “some new design features of the XQUAD milling line allow us to perform this difficult milling operation. This tool reduces harmonics through varied pitch and helix and employs unique insert geometry with positive cut to reduce mechanical forces, critical for aerospace materials. In addition, the coolant ports are adjustable to maximize coolant flow and pressure, which is very critical for aerospace materials, especially titanium. This combination maximizes the metal removal rate and reduces cycle time.”

The result, PCC Klune not only met their goal, they exceeded it, banking $105,000 in savings for this part!

“While we are very happy with the reduction in tooling cost, it’s the reduced time per part that motivates the programming team,” Moore says. “Doing more is a frame of mind to continually review and not accept the status quo. It’s a commitment and we are very fortunate to have developed a team (Joseph Barley, JD Ford, Greg Gines, Farron LeFevre, R. Dan Phillips) that views challenges as opportunities.”


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