Hard as a Diamond

Hard as a Diamond

WIDIA™ Products Group: Innovating for 90 Years through High Performance and New Technology

By: Steven P Archambault, CMTSE, CMP, Senior Applications Engineer, WIDIA Products Group

With the ever-increasing need to improve productivity and reduce cost in order to stay ahead of the competition, manufacturers have to keep up with the newest technologies in the market in order to survive through continuous innovation. This is, in fact, how WIDIA has survived for 90 years.

Like a Diamond

100050237_semmaninintroWIDIA, derived from the German “Wie Diamant”, which means “Like a Diamond,” was the first company to introduce cemented carbide for metalcutting applications in 1927. WIDIA completely revolutionized the manufacturing world, as cemented carbide was nearly as hard as diamond but without the brittleness and high cost.

This new diamond-like technology forced the world of machine builders and production houses to look at things completely different. The production of carbide for cutting tools now made it possible to run a vast array of very tough materials to far greater surface footage, and exponentially increased productivity. Machine builders were forced to completely rethink what they do, and began producing more ridgid machines with faster spindles in order to leverage this revolutionary new technology and increase speed and feed capability.

In 2009, some of the world’s most well-known and trusted brands combined to create the WIDIA Products Group: WIDIA, Hanita, Greenfield Tap & Die, Circle, ClappDiCo, Manchester, Metal Removal, Metcut, and Rübig. This year, WIDIA celebrates its 90 year history – which includes several “firsts” throughout the years. From the world’s first patent for carbide indexable inserts to the development of the world first coated grades, WIDIA continues to push the new technology envelope even further and machining even faster.

World Wide Testing

Josef Fellner, WIDIA Products Group’s Manager Portfolio Management for Turning and Indexable Milling, says the company recently took its newest advanced milling grade, WS40PM, on a world-wide testing tour. The results have been quite impressive:

  • An aircraft manufacturer enjoyed a 90% reduction in machining time per piece and increased tool life by 50% during Ti-6Al-4V face milling operations.
  • Insert flank wear decreased by more than 90% at a UK shop cutting Inconel 625, resulting in a 70% reduction in tooling costs.
  • At a turbocharger producer in China, tool life increased 80% while machining an austenitic stainless steel component using WS40PM, with improved part surface quality, reduced cutting forces and better chip flow.
  • In another titanium component, the WS40PM/VSM490-15 platform doubled metal removal rates and delivered 80% longer tool life through increased depth of cut and feed per tooth in face and shoulder milling operations.
  • The testing laboratory for a well-known brand of machine tools reports metal removal rates 49% greater when shoulder milling Ti-6Al-4V.100077208

In each instance, WS40PM competed with the test subject’s legacy carbide grade. Speeds and feeds were kept the same or in some cases increased to take advantage of WS40PM’s exceptional toughness, wear-resistance, and ability to resist thermal cracking.

WS40PM was designed to meet the needs of the aerospace, defense, and medical industries, where titanium is used for everything from landing gear and seat tracks to lifesaving implants and surgical instruments. As the testing results show, however, WS40PM is suitable for far more than titanium. High-temp steel alloys, austenitic and PH stainless steels, nickel-based super alloys such as Hastelloy and Nitronic—these materials cause tool failure due to built-up edge (BUE), notching at the depth of cut line, cratering, chipping, and extreme heat generation, which in the case of wet-cutting operations leads to cracking.

Benchmarks in Technology

WIDIA has led the market in many ways over the years with brands like Hanita, who introduced its VariMill line to world in 2002. This patented variable pitch geometry end mill again revolutionized machining with advanced coatings and substrates that made it possible to push tools even harder and faster through the use of new cutting tool technology. The VariMill from Hanita has been the benchmark end mill in the industry since its introduction.

100076170Now part of the WIDIA family of brands, WIDIA-Hanita™ brings over 60 years of carbide excellence to the table and continues to advance this technology through continuous improvement. Most recently, the release of the new Victory Grade Coatings for VariMill™ has been proven to improve life and performance by treating the cutting edge both before and after coating to remove foreign materials. This creates and more homogenous edge and better adhesion of the coating.

WIDIA-Hanita has also recently introduced the 5-flute Varimill II ER and 7-flute Varimill III ER. The “ER” stands for “Eccentric Relief,”  which is a continuous relief on the cutting edge rather than the typical primary and secondary angle, making it a much stronger cutting edge – ultimately improving life and again adding increased speed and feeds capabilities in the most difficult materials.

If your shop has been searching for the flexibility, simplicity, and cost-effectiveness of modular end mills but needs the cutting performance of solid carbide, look no further than the replaceable tip VariMill end mill solution from WIDIA, featuring the DUO-LOCK™ connection from WIDIA and Haimer. It’s the only tool available that can predictably take full-width slotting cuts in stainless steel and aerospace alloys at 1xD deep, and 50% cut widths at 1.5xD. “In apples to apples cutting tests against our competitors’ tools, the DUO-LOCK connection was the only one that didn’t break,” says WIDIA marketing portfolio director Avishay Zohar. “It is easily the most robust modular solution on the market today.”

The unmatched metal removal rate is due to a double-taper, face-contact mount and intelligent thread design. This provides runout accuracy better than 5 µm (.0002 in.), axial repeatability of 10 µm (.0004 in.) or better, and up to 25% higher torque and chip load capabilities than others in this market.

Mark White, marketing portfolio manager at WIDIA, agrees. “The DUO-LOCK connection was originally designed for heavy roughing and semi-finishing applications in difficult materials, but the platform has evolved since then. When coupled with the wide array of carbide, coatings, and geometries from Hanita, WIDIA provides manufacturers with a modular alternative to solid carbide end mills in 80% of their machining operations.”

Examples include the VariMill III, a 7-flute center-cutting end mill with a 38° helix for high-feed machining of titanium and nickel-based super alloys, and the VariMill I, with a conical core and asymmetrical 4-flute design that eliminates chatter in extreme roughing and deep slotting applications. Both are available in WIDIA’s Victory WS15PE and WP15PE AlTiN-coated grades, known throughout the industry for superior wear and heat-resistance.

Digital Integration

WIDIA Products Group, like a diamond, has many facets. The latest facets to be revealed are innovations outside of traditional tooling development. For example, WIDIA recently introduced NOVO™, an electronic application that digitizes tool, rules, and application knowledge and remakes estimating, planning, production, inventory and more. From parts quoting through programming, presetting, and production, NOVO continues the WIDIA tradition of delivering innovation in manufacturing.

In the future of what some have coined Industry 4.0, opportunity exists in the digital integration of tooling data and knowledge to the shop floor. By integrating accurate, complete tool data, rules, and application knowledge digitally, manufacturers are able to dramatically rethink and shorten process planning, adding real value to CAD/CAM, CNC machine control, presetting, inventory management, and more.

This is what WIDIA envisions with their launch of their new NOVO™ desktop and tablet application: the on-demand delivery of cutting tool data and expertise for reduced product development and manufacturing lead times.

Alexander Broetz, President of WIDIA, adds “We are going back to our roots to what the diamond represents. For WIDIA, it is about change under pressure, uniqueness, and timeless quality. We will work hard to maintain this mantra to foster trust and loyalty through leadership, performance, and new technology.”

If you want to survive as long as WIDIA has, stay ahead, stay connected, and embrace new technology, You simply must.

For more information, visit www.widia.com