Woodcut gains benefits from using PCD tools

Posted on 19 Aug 2019 and read 640 times
Woodcut gains benefits from using PCD toolsLike many small businesses, St Austell-based Woodcut Ltd (trading as Woodcut Components) was founded by one man with an ambition and access to a double garage.

Now, some 15 years later, the wood-working specialist offers a wide variety of wooden products — including furniture, commercial interiors and products for the defence industry — plus specialist machining services Woodcut began to grow significantly after acquiring its first CNC routing machine in 2012, which opened up new opportunities for the seven-employee business.

However, it was cutting tools from Tamworth-based Industrial Tooling Corporation Ltd (ITC — www.itc-ltd.co.uk) that enabled it to maximise the machine’s potential.

Managing director Richard Bate said: “When we bought this machine — our first flat-bed CNC router — additional work immediately began flowing in; and despite being new to CNC routing, we knew that the tool life and the cutting performance we were achieving were both poor.

"I discussed the situation with another local business, which recommended ITC cutting tools.

"We haven’t looked back since.”

Woodcut ditched its existing cutting tools and began using ITC’s range of 180-20 straight-flute solid-carbide tools.

“We instantly noticed that the ITC tools were a lot sharper and the geometries more suited to our materials.

“Moreover, the tool life was exceptional, giving us the benefit of reduced tooling costs — plus the surface and edge finishes were far superior, eliminating the need for secondary hand finishing.”

As the small business has evolved, so has the workload and the materials processed. Mr Bate said: “Materials continually evolve, as do our customers’ needs.

"We are now machining laminated MDF, fire-retardant MDF, composite work-tops and ‘compact grade’ laminate. Many of these materials are extremely abrasive and challenging to machine, so having the right tools is essential.”

A new challenge

About a year ago, Woodcut received an order for acoustic ceiling tiles from a commercial customer that wanted them to be made from a laminated fire-retardant MDF board.

Woodcut found that its existing solid-carbide tools were not suitable for the abrasive nature of this board — or its machining characteristics — and contacted ITC technical sales engineer Sally Hunt.

Mr Bate said: “The order was for over 300 tiles, each measuring 1,200 x 600mm. These not only had to be cut from 10 x 4ft boards but also had multiple 10mm-wide grooves in each tile.

“The machining time available for the entire project was just over three weeks, and we knew that we would need to investigate new tooling strategies to get the job finished on time and to the quality required.

“At the start of the project, we applied our existing solid-carbide routing tools, but the abrasive nature of the material resulted in these tools ‘burning out’ after machining just five tiles. Ms Hunt recommended ITC’s 2102 series of PCD-tipped tools.

"We bought 10, but we only needed five to finish the entire project. The tool life was phenomenal, allowing us to go from one tool for every five tiles with carbide to 50 tiles with a PCD tool.

"We machined the dimensions of the 12mm-thick tiles and the 10mm-wide groove features with an 8mm-diameter PCD tool. The ITC PCD tools are very versatile, and the ones we had left are being used to machine all our projects featuring abrasive materials.

He added: “The diversity of our work frequently brings new challenges and new material types, but ITC is always on-hand with technical support and a suitable product.

"Over the last six years, we have been regularly routing Tricoya particle boards and HDF (high-density fibreboard) for exterior signage and cladding.

"From these boards, we have been producing textured panels that require ball-nose machining over the entire surface of the board. We have been using 20mm-diameter ball-nose tools from ITC.”

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