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What You Need to Know About Coolant for CNC Machining

Coolant in purpose is widely understood – it’s used to temper high temperatures common during machining, and aid in chip evacuation. However, there are several types and styles, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Knowing which coolant – or if any – is appropriate for your job can help to boost your shop’s profitability, capability, and overall machining performance.

Coolant or Lubricant Purpose

Coolant and lubricant are terms used interchangeably, though not all coolants are lubricants. Compressed air, for example, has no lubricating purpose but works only as a cooling option. Direct coolants – those which make physical contact with a part – can be compressed air, water, oil, synthetics, or semi-synthetics. When directed to the cutting action of a tool, these can help to fend off high temperatures that could lead to melting, warping, discoloration, or tool failure. Additionally, coolant can help evacuate chips from a part, preventing chip recutting and aiding in part finish.

Coolant can be expensive, however, and wasteful if not necessary. Understanding the amount of coolant needed for your job can help your shop’s efficiency.

Types of Coolant Delivery

Coolant is delivered in several different forms – both in properties and pressure. The most common forms include air, mist, flood coolant, high pressure, and Minimum Quantity Lubricant (MQL). Choosing the wrong pressure can lead to part or tool damage, whereas choosing the wrong amount can lead to exhausted shop resources.

Air: Cools and clears chips, but has no lubricity purpose. Air coolant does not cool as efficiently as water or oil-based coolants. For more sensitive materials, air coolant is often preferred over types that come in direct contact with the part. This is true with many plastics, where thermal shock – or rapid expansion and contraction of a part – can occur if direct coolant is applied.

Mist: This type of low pressure coolant is sufficient for instances where chip evacuation and heat are not major concerns. Because the pressure applied is not great in a mist, the part and tool do not undergo additional stresses.

Flood: This low pressure method creates lubricity and flushes chips from a part to avoid chip recutting, a common and tool damaging occurrence.

High Pressure: Similar to flood coolant, but delivered in greater than 1,000 psi. This is a great option for chip removal and evacuation, as it blasts the chips away from the part. While this method will effectively cool a part immediately, the pressure can be high enough to break miniature diameter tooling. This method is used often in deep pocket or drilling operations, and can be delivered via coolant through tooling, or coolant grooves built into the tool itself. Harvey Tool offers Coolant Through Drills and Coolant Through Threadmills.

Minimum Quantity Lubricant (MQL): Every machine shop focuses on how to gain a competitive advantage – to spend less, make more, and boost shop efficiency. That’s why many shops are opting for MQL, along with its obvious environmental benefits. Using only the necessary amount of coolant will dramatically reduce costs and wasted material. This type of lubricant is applied as an aerosol, or an extremely fine mist, to provide just enough coolant to perform a given operation effectively.

To see all of these coolant styles in action, check out the video below from our partners at CimQuest.

In Conclusion

Coolant is all-too-often overlooked as a major component of a machining operation. The type of coolant or lubricant, and the pressure at which it’s applied, is vital to both machining success and optimum shop efficiency. Coolant can be applied as compressed air, mist, in a flooding property, or as high pressure. Certain machines also are MQL able, meaning they can effectively restrict the amount of coolant being applied to the very amount necessary to avoid being wasteful.

4 Important Keyseat Cutter Considerations

Keyseat cutters, also called woodruff cutters, keyway cutters, and T-slot cutters, are a type of cutting tool used frequently by many machinists – some operations are impractical or even impossible without one. If you need one of these tools for your job, it pays to know when and how to pick the right one and how to use it correctly.

1. Keyseat Cutter Geometry

Selecting and utilizing the right tool is often more complicated than identifying the right diameter and dialing in the speeds and feeds. A keyseat cutter’s strength should be considered carefully, especially in tricky applications and difficult materials.

As with any tool, a longer reach will make a keyseat cutter more prone to deflection and breakage. A tool with the shortest allowable reach should be used to ensure the strongest tool possible.

A keyseat cutter’s neck diameter greatly affects its performance. A thinner neck allows for a comparatively larger radial depth of cut (RDOC) and more clearance, but makes for a weaker tool. A thicker neck reduces the keyseat cutter’s RDOC, but greatly strengthens the tool overall. When clearances allow, a keyseat cutter with a thicker neck and larger cutter diameter should be chosen over one with a thinner neck and smaller cutter diameter (Figure 1).

keyseat cutter geometry

Cutter width has an effect on tool strength as well. The greater a keyseat cutter’s cutter width, the more prone to deflection and breakage it is. This is due to the increased forces on the tool – a greater cutter width equates to an increased length of engagement. You should be particularly careful to use the strongest tool possible and a light RDOC when machining with a keyseat cutter with a thick cutter width.

2. Radial Depth of Cut

Understanding a keyseat cutter’s RDOC is critical to choosing the correct tool, but understanding how it affects your tool path is necessary for optimal results. While it may be tempting to make a cut using a keyseat cutter’s maximum RDOC, this will result in increased stress on the tool, a worse finish, and potential catastrophic tool failure. It is almost always better to use a lighter depth of cut and make multiple passes (Figure 2).

keyseat cutter RDOC
When in doubt about what RDOC is correct for your tool and application, consider consulting the tool manufacturer’s speeds and feeds. Harvey Tool’s keyseat cutter speeds and feeds take into account your tool dimensions, workpiece material, operation, and more.

3. Desired Slot Size

Some machinists use keyseat cutters to machine slots greater than their cutter width. This is done with multiple operations so that, for example, a keyseat cutter with a 1/4” cutter width can create a slot that is 3/8” wide. While this is possible and may save on up-front tooling costs, the results are not optimal. Ideally, a keyseat cutter should be used to machine a slot equal to its cutter width as it will result in a faster operation, fewer witness marks, and a better finish (Figure 3).

ideal keyseat slot

4. Staggered Tooth Geometry

When more versatility is required from a keyseat cutter, staggered tooth versions should be considered. The front and back reliefs allow the tools to cut not only on the OD, but also on the front and back of the head. When circumstances do not allow for the use of a cutter width equal to the final slot dimensions as stated above, a staggered tooth tool can move axially in the slot to expand its width.

staggered tooth keyseat cutter
Machining difficult or gummy materials can be tricky, and using a staggered tooth keyseat cutter can help greatly with tool performance. The shear flutes reduce the force needed to cut, as well as leave a superior surface finish by reducing harmonics and chatter.

Having trouble finding the perfect keyseat cutter for your job? Harvey Tool offers over 1,800 keyseat cutter options, with cutter diameters from 1/16” to 1-1/2” and cutter widths from .010” to ½”.

Anderson Prototypes – Featured Customer

Anderson Prototypes is a custom machine shop in Port Moody, British Columbia. Working with everything from Titanium to Bamboo, they create mechanical mechanisms and working prototypes of new technology. By applying 25 years of experience with manual and CNC machinery, they craft amazing parts, some even bordering on impossible. The team at Anderson Prototypes works in a variety of industries, ranging from large-scale prototype work to small batch production, machine repair, and even movie and TV props.

Jim Anderson, a 30 year veteran of the manufacturing industry, is the Founder and Owner of Anderson Prototypes. We caught up with Jim and talked to him about some of the “impossible” projects his team likes to take, his experiences in the film industry, and his advice for the aspiring machinist.

Tell us a bit about your shop, how you got started, and what sort of products you manufacture.

I started in machining in 1985, as a full-time student in a machining class at a local community college. I spent years working in jobbing shops, plastic mold injection shops, and specialized start-up companies, scratch building a range of things from high-speed water “pouch” filling machines to hydrogen fuel-cells. Today I work with a wide range of clients including 3 submarine companies, a military contractor, companies that use custom built or modified ROVs and drones, food packaging companies, production companies needing film and TV props, and more.

What made you get into machining?

I have always been an actively creative person, and I enjoyed wood and machine shop in high school. I found a creative outlet for my talents to build and fix things inside the machine shop environment. I continue to study machines and items, to understand how they were made, and how it could be made better or simplified.

anderson prototypes

What is your favorite part of this profession?

I always enjoy creating something for a client that they have been dreaming of, sometimes for years. They come to me with a sketch on a napkin or a verbal idea, and I turn that dream into reality. When they come to pick it up and see it for the first time, the emotions are tremendous!

What sort of machines do you use in your shop?

I have 2 Tormach 1100 CNC mills, one 4 axis and the other 3 axis, a Sherline 2000, 4 axis CNC mill, a Frankenstein CNC lathe with a 8 station tool changer for small work, a Milltronics ML-17 CNC lathe, a Colchester Student Engine Lathe, and a smaller manual milling machine. I also have drill presses, tapping heads and tons of specialized fixturing and work holding devices, as well as a 60 ton hydraulic press and the specialized equipment that comes with it.

micro machining

Which materials do you work with in your shop?

Just about everything. Lots of plastics, PEEK, Delrin and Acrylic, aluminum, steels, stainless steels, carbon fiber, different woods, laminates, and more.

What sets Anderson Prototypes apart from the competition?

We often take on jobs that other shops won’t, due to our team’s large vision. We stand behind every piece we make and have zero returned items to date. Embodying both old-school traditions and cutting-edge technology, Anderson Prototypes believes that “Impossible is just an Opinion”. We work with a project from the very beginning to the time it is up and running at the client’s facility. We work with building very small detailed machines to unique and weird items that someone dreamed up and could not find anyone able to make. We also love to give back to the community. We have sponsored local high school and university students in competitions, and we have played a part in the Maker Community since Day One. We also made and donated a doggy wheelchair to a dog in need (YouTube), and we sponsor a local softball league.

How did you get into the entertainment/prop business?

Vancouver has a huge movie industry, and there are many people in my network that work in the industry. The need for various props, new equipment, and repairs can go up and down as movies are being filmed. The first job I did (I think), was for a movie called Space Buddies, the 4th or 5th entry in the Air Bud movie series. I made the Doggles (dog goggles), that the dog is wearing on the DVD cover. Most movies require a Non-Disclosure Agreements before any work is done, so I can’t talk about much, but I have made my impact on the screen, behind the scenes, and even live on stage. I also did a major prop for an Australian TV show that was apparently popular down under, so you never know where this work will take you!

micro machined

Who is the most famous contact that you have worked on a project with?

I have met many directors and producers of large budget films and TV shows. Unfortunately, because of the Non-Disclosure Agreements, I cannot mention any names.

Why is high-quality tool performance important to you?

I buy all my tooling from North America. I am lucky enough to have a solid carbide tooling manufacturer 5 miles from my shop, so I get quality endmills, made to order. When I need something specialized, Harvey is the only company I go to. When a tool does more than I expect, I make more money and have less stress. I count on that and become a return customer. For example, I used a .018″ Miniature End Mill (#73018-C3) on some acrylic parts I was making. There were 40 parts in total, all around the size of a stamp, with lots of tiny details, high tolerances, and very small features. I had the machine running at 15,500 RPM for 3 weeks, and I only broke one tool in that entire run. What a great tool!

What is your favorite process to work on as a machinist?

I really enjoy making something I have never worked on before, that new challenge. Often it seems that I am designing new items now more than ever. I have to do things that are not being done commercially and I stand behind it. So I might run the manual lathe, the CNC mill and then the CNC lathe on one part. I enjoy the variety.

anderson prototypes

Why is manufacturing your products in North America important to you?

American and Canadian-made products are very important to me. I purchase North American-made products like steel and aluminum, and bearings and fasteners all of kinds. I also access services locally, such as laser cutting, anodizing and powder coating, to support these local businesses. I feel its very important to the customer making the purchase that these are products my neighbors are helping to build.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new machinist ready to take the #PlungeIntoMachining, what would it be?

Take the time to take an accredited machine shop training course, like I did. It will give you all the groundwork to understand the real world of machining. I know a few fellas with small CNCs that can’t make a living because they don’t understand the depth of set-ups or work holding, for example, because they never learned from an expert. They can’t make parts fast enough, they charge 1/2 of what I do, and it takes then 3 times as long, so they simply can’t compete with me. Just be aware that it doesn’t happen overnight; I was a Journeyman Machinist for over 30 years, and still ask for help from my mentors occasionally. Oh, and find yourself a quality machine. Find a good used HAAS, or OKK, or something made in the US, UK or Europe. Your clients will respect you more and it will work longer and more accurately.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the In The Loupe community?

I am grateful for the education I have received from the many journeyman machinists, engineers, mechanics, electricians, pilots, sea captains and more who I have worked beside in my years. I am happy to share and offer problem-solving, sometimes for free, other times at consultation rates. When a young eager person asks me a question, I do the best I can to answer it in a way that benefits them long term. Sometimes they don’t like the answer, but I tell them to come back in 6 months and tell me how it went. That’s when the rubber hits the road.

anderson prototypes


Would you like to be considered for a future “Featured Customer” blog? Click here to submit your information.

Photos courtesy of Anderson Prototypes.

Optimize Roughing With Chipbreaker Tooling

Chipbreaker End Mills feature unique notch profiles, creating a serrated cutting edge. These dividers break otherwise long, stringy chips into small, easily-managed swarf that can be cleanly evacuated from the part. But why is a chipbreaker necessary for some jobs, and not others? How does the geometry of this unique tool impact its proper running parameters? In this post, we’ll answer these questions and others to discover the very real benefits of this unique cutting geometry.

How Chipbreaker Tooling Works

As a tool rotates and its cutting edge impacts a workpiece, material is sheared off from a part, creating chips. When that cutting process is interrupted, as is the case with breaks in the cutting portion of the tool, chips become smaller in length and are thus easier to evacuate. Because the chipbreakers are offset flute-to-flute, a proper, flat surface finish is achieved as each flute cleans up any excess material left behind from previously passed flutes.

Benefits of Chipbreaker Tooling

Machining Efficiency

When chips are removed from the part, they begin to pile in the machine. For extensive operations, where a great deal of material is hogged out, chip accumulation can very rapidly get in the way of the spindle or part. With larger chips, accumulation occurs much faster, leaving machinists to stop their machine regularly to remove the waste. As any machinist knows, a stopped machine equates to lost money.

Prolonged Tool Life

Inefficient chip evacuation can lead to chip recutting, or when the the tool impacts and cuts chips left behind during the machining process. This adds stresses on the tool and accelerates rate of wear on the cutting edge. Chipbreaker tooling creates small chips that are easily evacuated from a part, thus minimizing the risk of recutting.

Accelerated Running Parameters

A Harvey Performance Company Application Engineer recently observed the power of a chipbreaker tool firsthand while visiting a customer’s shop in Minnesota. The customer was roughing a great amount of 4340 Steel. Running at the parameters below, the tool was able to run uninterrupted for two hours!

Helical Part No. 33737
Material 4340 Steel
ADOC 2.545″
RDOC .125″
Speed 2,800 RPM
Feed 78 IPM
Material Removal Rate 24.8 Cubic In/Min

Chipbreaker Product Offering

Chipbreaker geometry is well suited for materials that leave a long chip. Materials that produce a powdery chip, such as graphite, should not be machined with a chipbreaker tool, as chip evacuation would not be a concern. Helical Solutions’ line of chipbreaker tooling includes a 3-flute option for aluminum and non-ferrous materials, and its reduced neck counterpart. Additionally, Helical offers a 4-flute rougher with chipbreaker geometry for high-temp alloys and titanium. Harvey Tool’s expansive product offering includes a composite cutting end mill with chipbreaker geometry.

In Summary

Chipbreaker geometry, or grooves within the cutting face of the tool, break down chips into small, manageable pieces during the machining process. This geometry can boost shop efficiency by minimizing machine downtime to clear large chips from the machining center, improve tool life by minimizing cutting forces exerted on the tool during machining, and allow for more accelerated running parameters.

Harvey Performance Company Announces Partnership with Summit Partners

ROWLEY, MA (October 17, 2017) – The Harvey Performance Company team is excited to announce a growth equity investment from Summit Partners, a global growth equity investor based in Boston, MA. The funding will be used to foster continued growth, generate ongoing product development, and advance new initiatives.

“This funding will support Harvey Performance Company’s ongoing product innovation efforts, allowing us to sustain our tremendous growth we’ve enjoyed over the last several years,” said Pete Jenkins, Harvey Performance Company Chief Executive Officer. “We’re so appreciative of the Summit team for sharing our vision of growth, and the importance of continued outstanding customer service.”

Founded in 1984, Summit (www.summitpartners.com) has become the investment partner of choice for many of the best growth companies in the world. Its leadership team, averaging more than 13 years of experience, has proven results with aiding businesses reach new, exceptional heights. Summit partners with hundreds of companies, including Uber, NetBrain Technologies, Fuze, and MarketLogic, among others.

Summit’s investment in Harvey Performance Company is its third such partnership in its history. Most recently in 2014, prior to the inception of Harvey Performance Company, The Riverside Company (www.riversidecompany.com) invested in Harvey Tool Company. With its help, Harvey Tool’s acquisition of Helical Solutions and the creation of Harvey Performance Company, was made possible.

“With Riverside’s tremendous partnership over the last three years, we’ve accomplished so much,” Jenkins said. “We can’t wait for more great things to come with Summit.”

Harvey Performance Hosts Local Students for Manufacturing Day Tour

Harvey Performance Company welcomed dozens of local high school students to its Gorham, ME manufacturing facility for an educational tour as part of “Manufacturing Day,” a national day of celebration of modern manufacturing meant to promote, inform, and inspire.

As part of the tour, students were led around the facility by Harvey Performance Company engineers, receiving valuable insight on how a state-of-the-art CNC grinding machine turns a carbide blank into specialty tooling.  The event concluded with a question and answer segment led by Plant Manager Adam Martin.

“It was a thrill for me to meet with the participating students, and to see just how enthusiastic they were about manufacturing,” Martin said. “The Harvey Performance team really had a great time celebrating Manufacturing Day with them.”

harvey performance company

Nationwide, more than 2,800 events took place for current and aspiring machinists as part of Manufacturing Day, held the first week of October every year. In 2016, 84 percent of participants in a Manufacturing Day event were more convinced that manufacturing provides interesting and rewarding careers, according to data from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute.

Harvey Performance Company remains committed to its goal of highlighting the best of the manufacturing industry via its “Plunge Into Machining” campaign.

Harvey Performance Brands Announce Release of HEM Guidebook

ROWLEY, MA (August 22, 2017) – Harvey Performance Company’s two brands, Harvey Tool and Helical Solutions, collaborated in the creation of the HEM Guidebook. This new resource centers around the concept of High Efficiency Milling (HEM), popular for its ability to boost shop productivity by minimizing cycle times and boosting tool performance.

Included within the HEM Guidebook are seven relevant articles: Introduction to High Efficiency Milling, High Speed Machining Vs. HEM, Combat Chip Thinning & Boost Tool Potential, Diving into Depth of Cut, Preventing Tool Wear, Applying HEM to Micromachining, and Best Practices for Trochoidal Milling. Additionally, HEM usage statistics and machinist tips for this popular machining method are included, and were gathered as part of a survey hosted by the two brands in the days preceding its release.

“We’re thrilled to present this helpful resource to the metalworking industry,” said Garth Ely, Harvey Performance Company Vice President of Marketing. “This machining method has results proven to enhance our customers’ shop performance, and we’re confident this resource will help them achieve the production benefits that HEM offers.”

Harrelson Trumpets – Featured Customer

Harrelson Trumpets is a custom trumpet manufacturer based out of Denver, Colorado. As the only trumpet manufacturer that produces many of their parts on a CNC machine, Harrelson Trumpets has become widely recognized as one of the top custom instrument manufacturers in the world. Harrelson Trumpets are manufactured using a technology called Standing Wave Efficiency (SWE). Put simply, SWE Mod Kits reduce energy loss in the instrument, thus increasing efficiency. This translates to playing an instrument with less effort, improved attacks, flexibility, slotting, endurance and dynamics.

Jason Harrelson is the founder and owner of Harrelson Trumpets. He has been researching and applying SWE technology since 1993, both in the lab and real world playing situations. As of 2017, Harrelson has personally built more than 800 unique trumpet designs and 1,200 individual trumpets. We spoke with Harrelson about his history as an entrepreneur, how CNC machining changed the way he worked, and more.


harrelson trumpets

Tell us about how you started Harrelson Trumpets and some of the products you manufacture.

I started out modifying my own trumpet when I discovered it didn’t play as well as my friend’s trumpet. I wondered why my friends with the same brand of trumpet could hit certain notes more easily or make a more beautiful tone. So, it started off as something I was doing for myself. Fast forward many years and I sold a trumpet I had modified that was collecting dust in a closet. I soon realized there is a huge market for custom trumpets that play easier. I bought old horns at pawn shops or music stores and modified and sold them for a few years, but that approach was a lot of work. Every trumpet manufacturer uses different bore and thread sizing. I was constantly reverse engineering each and every modification I did. So, the decision was made to come out with a line of instruments that we built from the ground up utilizing the physics principals I’d learned in my physics program in college. Many years of research, development and hard work were invested to produce the most technologically advanced trumpets available in the world. We have extended the application of our “Science Meets Sound” model into a series of accessories that improve the efficiency of other brand trumpets as well. We offer a fully modular 5MM mouthpiece, mod kits, and a variable gap receiver, just to name a few. We are launching several new products in the near future that also apply science and machining in an industry that has been unchanged for hundreds of years.

What made you get into machining?

Machining was a natural progression. Most of my designs are not possible with traditional fabrication techniques so precision machining was the logical next step. CNC machines were a necessity in allowing us to prototype and eventually put into production designs that revolutionized the industry. We are the only trumpet manufacturer in the world that produces our tuning slides, bell crooks and leadpipes (as well as most other parts) on a CNC Machine.

harrelson trumpets

As someone who was self-taught in CNC Machining, what was your biggest hurdle?

Well, I think learning so many different machining and fabrication processes is the biggest challenge. We use modified machines to achieve our end goal. Most of our processes have required specialty tooling such as spindle speeders up to 90,000 rpm to create the high detail features and artwork that looks almost like they were a coin struck by a die.

What is your favorite part of this profession?

Problem solving. Finding solutions. Helping others raise their standards musically while incorporating science-based solutions.

harrelson trumpets

You use a lot of Harvey Tool products in your shop. How have Harvey Tool products impacted your overall shop performance?

When we first started using them, Harvey Tool was the only small tool manufacturer for miniature end mills that I could find online. The wide range of tooling available from Harvey has allowed us to create fine detailed artwork in components that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. It’s a large part of our business to offer custom art and machining. I don’t think I’ve ever had to order anything custom because they’ve always had something that worked right off the shelf for my applications.

Tell us about your favorite project that Harvey Tools helped to create.

Any of our custom Summit Art Trumpets would be included in that category. We do a special Satchmo Trumpet every year and donate it to French Quarter Festivals in New Orleans. These are fun projects because they really let us flex our artistic and machining muscles. Some of the Satchmo Trumpets would not have been possible if it weren’t for Harvey Tool.

harrelson trumpets

If you were stranded on a desert island with only one Harvey Tool, which would it be, and why?

I couldn’t live with only one! I would choose the catalog so I could dream of getting off the island and back into the shop!

You have been an entrepreneur for your entire life. What do you think was the major reason you were able to make Harrelson Trumpets your full-time job?

I have been inventing and trying my hand at different businesses my whole life. I think that the reason Harrelson Trumpets was and is a success is two-fold. We have put countless long and hard hours into learning and mastering our trade. Hard work really is a major factor in our success. Beyond that, I love music, science and inventing solutions for my customers. I have made it my life’s work to create a superior trumpet and this is an endless quest that keeps me motivated. It is very rewarding work. There is great satisfaction in delivering an heirloom quality instrument that is scientifically superior to all others and brings joy to the musician making music with it for generations to come.

harrelson trumpets

If you could give one piece of advice to a new machinist ready to #PlungeIntoMachining, what would it be?

Ask other professionals in your field for help. I assist other machinists daily via email, social media, phone, and in person. Seek out mentors and learn from their experiences as often as possible. Most of what I have learned was a culmination of reading, trying, failing, reading again, trying again, and eventually finding what works. But today, we have resources like YouTube, Instagram, and online or in-person classes held by private individuals rather than full fledged college courses. You can learn as fast as you want through these non-traditional avenues!

Is there anything else you would like to share with the In The Loupe community?

Loyalty to a brand IS very important and almost always results in greater productivity and success. I mention this because many people assume the cheapest tool is the right tool. In reality, knowing your tooling is worth every penny and paying a premium over cheap imports is the wise decision. Working with tooling from the same manufacturer day after day and year after year provides the end user with benefits including reliable performance expectations, accuracy, quality and availability. To this end, be loyal to the best tooling manufacturer you can afford!

harrelson trumpets

Would you like to be considered for a future “Featured Customer” blog? Click here to submit your information.

Photos courtesy of Harrelson Trumpets

Most Common Methods of Tool Entry

Tool entry is pivotal to machining success, as it’s one of the most punishing operations for a cutter. Entering a part in a way that’s not ideal for the tool or operation could lead to a damaged part or exhausted shop resources. Below, we’ll explore the most common part entry methods, as well as tips for how to perform them successfully.


Pre-Drilled Hole

Pre-drilling a hole to full pocket depth (and 5-10% larger than the end mill diameter) is the safest practice of dropping your end mill into a pocket. This method ensures the least amount of end work abuse and premature tool wear.

tool entry predrill

 


Helical Interpolation

Helical Interpolation is a very common and safe practice of tool entry with ferrous materials. Employing corner radius end mills during this operation will decrease tool wear and lessen corner breakdown. With this method, use a programmed helix diameter of greater than 110-120% of the cutter diameter.

helical interpolation

 


Ramping-In

This type of operation can be very successful, but institutes many different torsional forces the cutter must withstand. A strong core is key for this method, as is room for proper chip evacuation. Using tools with a corner radius, which strengthen its cutting portion, will help.

ramping

Suggested Starting Ramp Angles:

Hard/Ferrous Materials: 1°-3°

Soft/Non-Ferrous Materials: 3°-10°

For more information on this popular tool entry method, see Ramping to Success.


Arcing

This method of tool entry is similar to ramping in both method and benefit. However, while ramping enters the part from the top, arcing does so from the side. The end mill follows a curved tool path, or arc, when milling, this gradually increasing the load on the tool as it enters the part. Additionally, the load put on the tool decreases as it exits the part, helping to avoid shock loading and tool breakage.


Straight Plunge

This is a common, yet often problematic method of entering a part. A straight plunge into a part can easily lead to tool breakage. If opting for this machining method, however, certain criteria must be met for best chances of machining success. The tool must be center cutting, as end milling incorporates a flat entry point making chip evacuation extremely difficult. Drill bits are intended for straight plunging, however, and should be used for this type of operation.

tool entry

 


Straight Tool Entry

Straight entry into the part takes a toll on the cutter, as does a straight plunge. Until the cutter is fully engaged, the feed rate upon entry is recommended to be reduced by at least 50% during this operation.

tool entry

 


Roll-In Tool Entry

Rolling into the cut ensures a cutter to work its way to full engagement and naturally acquire proper chip thickness. The feed rate in this scenario should be reduced by 50%.

tool entry

 

Magnuson Superchargers – Featured Customer

Magnuson Superchargers is a manufacturer of aftermarket and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) supercharger systems for the automotive industry, located in Ventura, California. Started by industry legend Jerry Magnuson, Magnuson Superchargers has quickly grown into one of the most respected brands in the automotive industry. Magnuson creates products for various brands, including GM, Mopar, Ford, AUDI, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Toyota, and Jeep. Magnuson Superchargers are most commonly found in “hot rods,” everyday vehicles, off-road vehicles, and vehicles purpose built for competitive racing, as they are used to significantly yet reliably increase horsepower.

The Magnuson Superchargers team of technicians combine modern and time-tested prototyping and fabrication techniques to construct each component to exact specifications and the highest quality. Magnuson has a complete machine shop in house for fabrication of new prototype system components. This allows them to operate efficiently with short runs and high volume production.

magnuson superchargers

Hubert Gromek, Magnuson Superchargers’ Machine Shop Manager, is a 15-year veteran of the industry. We spoke with Hubert about his experiences building a career in the manufacturing industry, his advice for young machinists, and the way he and his team use both Harvey Tool and Helical Solutions tools in their machine shop every day.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I started with Magnuson Superchargers 15-plus years ago as a young kid who didn’t know anything about machining at all. Being a major car guy and drag racer, working for a company that makes superchargers was a perfect fit for me.  I started by deburring and washing parts and worked my way up to operating our Fadal Vertical Mills.

From there I started to get the concept of what it actually takes to machine things and started learning how to do all the setups; I even started making my own fixtures here and there. After a couple of years of being the setup guy for our shop, I started looking into the programming aspect of the job and that really grabbed my interest right away. It’s one thing to run and set up machines with other people’s programs and instruction, but it’s a whole new world when you have to do the entire job from scratch on your own.

magnuson superchargers

After a couple of years of being the Lead Setup Programmer here at our shop, I was given the opportunity to be the Machine Shop Manager. I was very honored that the owner of such a big and great company thought I had what it takes to run the whole shop. Let me tell you, when you are responsible for everything that goes on in a machine shop, it really opens your eyes to how much every little thing matters. The one thing I learned very quickly is how important it is to have the right team in your shop to support you and reach the goals that are set. It doesn’t matter how great a manager or programmer you are, if you don’t have the right team of machinists in your shop, you are setting yourself up for failure. After many years of trying, I think I have finally found that team that I’ve been looking for.

What made you get into machining?

It was when I first saw a raw piece of material (billet aluminum) become a billet bracket for a hot rod my boss was working on. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. You start with nothing and the finished product was a work of art to me. I knew right then that I wanted to do that someday.

What is your greatest challenge as a machinist?

This is a two-part answer. First, it is finding the right core team that you can trust and not have to worry about what they are doing. My current team is comprised of experienced and disciplined machinists and they know what needs to get done. I don’t have to watch over them, I just try to guide them and teach them everything that I have learned over the years.

The second part has always been fixture design. I am always learning how to make better, more user-friendly fixtures to help speed up production but still maintain very high part quality.

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What is your favorite part of this profession?

I really love the fact that I learn something new every day. It doesn’t matter how much you think you know, there is always a job that will test your ability as a machinist.

What made you decide to use Harvey Tool and Helical products?

Actually I have a great local tool supplier that I deal with all the time. His name is Mike Baldino over at PM Industrial, and he is the one who first introduced me to both of these products. We make tiny Dovetail O-Ring grooves in a lot of our parts and I couldn’t find a tool that would do the job like I wanted it to. Mike recommended the Harvey Tool .135″ Dovetail Cutter and I haven’t used anything else since. As for the Helical End Mills, since 98% of our jobs are in aluminum, Mike also recommended I try these new (at the time) Zplus coated Helical End Mills. Just like the Harvey Tool Dovetail Cutter, I haven’t used anything else since I found out how amazing these cutters worked for us.

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Why is high quality tool performance important to your team at Magnuson Superchargers?

We work with a lot of castings here at Magnuson Superchargers, and even though they are aluminum, they can be very abrasive. Because of this, tool life and part finishes are very important to us. The Helical End Mills hold up very well to cast and billet materials and the Harvey Tool Dovetail Cutters are the only thing that works for us.

Tell us about your favorite projects that Harvey Tool or Helical Solutions tools helped you create.

We make most of our casting tooling in-house, which includes master patterns and core boxes, usually in 6061 Billet Aluminum. The Helical Zplus coated End Mills are amazing for doing these jobs. Using the dynamic toolpaths and utilizing the entire flute length is great. As for the Harvey Tool Dovetail Cutters, I haven’t used anything that works better than these. Every project has become easier with the use of both Harvey Tool and Helical Solutions tools.

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A 2016 Chevrolet Camaro loaded with the TVS2300 supercharger at the track.

One of our most exciting projects is our new TVS2300 supercharger that we built for our 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. We took a completely stock engine and transmission, and with just our supercharger and a couple of modifications it was able to run a 9 second 1/4 mile drag race. This was very impressive and has made a huge impact in the automotive industry. We are very excited about this kit and the potential it has in the market.

We have also been working on the biggest supercharger that our company has ever made, the new TVS2650. We are very proud of the all the R&D work that has gone into this kit and we are seeing some incredible horsepower numbers from these units. We displayed this at last year’s Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas. We are still in the prototype stages of this project but will have production units coming very soon.

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A prototype of the new TVS2650 supercharger, the largest ever built by Magnuson.

Would you recommend that young people take the #PlungeIntoMachining and start a career as a machinist?

I personally would recommend a career in machining to anyone who has an interest in how things are made. I believe it is a great career choice. There are always going to be parts that have to get made somehow, so there is no shortage of open jobs available in the industry. I have a 4 year old son and as soon as he is old enough, I will teach him everything I know about this profession. If he chooses not to go that route, that is completely okay, but at least he will know what it takes to make something from scratch.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new machinist, what would it be?

Learn the basics. Start with a manual mill or lathe and get some experience with how it feels to cut something. Lots of people start on a CNC as an operator and call themselves “machinists.” It took me 5 years before my boss officially called me a machinist! Trust me, it feels really good when your boss hands you a print or CAD model and says “make this,” and you come back with a perfect part that you were able to make yourself.

magnuson superchargers

The Magnuson Superchargers machine shop team. From left: John, Jesus, Jun, Miguel, Jesse, Kenton, and Armando.

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Photos courtesy of Magnuson Superchargers