Innovating the Future
Use of modern manufacturing technologies is now offering advantages that were limited earlier
Growing competition is forcing companies that produce and consume manufacturing tools to innovate and adapt to the latest technologies as per their changing business needs. Over the years manufacturing companies have started including new generative design capabilities giving rise to new tools to deal with the challenges that they face in different segments. From reducing the overall cost and increasing production to designing new products, competition is pushing companies towards the innovation of new machining tools to deal with these challenges.
Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing is one such pathbreaking technology that has allowed manufacturers to create design and prototype with a physical printed part at the end of the design cycle. Earlier, these manufacturers typically would have one chance at making the functional part, which was time-consuming and led to a lot of wastage. In the last two decades, additive manufacturing has evolved beyond its earlier laboratory and rapid prototyping contexts and is now becoming common across all stages of manufacturing.
Ramakant Reddy, MD, LMT Tools India, explained that additive manufacturing can be used for making many types of tools. However, it is more useful for making special tools in small batch quantities. It can even be used to make a single tool or to make a prototype before starting mass production. “With the above criterion, manufacturers are making a variety of tools using additive manufacturing. We at LMT Tools have used this technology for manufacturing our Tangential Evoline Thread Rolling system,” he added.
Talking about new-age tools that allow for additive manufacturing, Anil Kumar, MD, CERATIZIT India, said, “In line with the present technical trend, we are developing new generation tools with the help of additive manufacturing processes. Our 3D printed HPC and PCD milling cutters have the definite advantage of a greater number of cutting edges with HPC optimized cutting-edge geometry ensuring a significant increase in tool productivity.”
Using it right
Several companies are reluctant to buy new machine tools as it not only incurs huge costs but also involves training for those who would be using these tools. Hence, companies selling machine tools and technologies ensure that they provide training regularly to get the optimum output from their products. Tools are part of the entire manufacturing process which include components, machines, work hold, tool holding, cutting oil and the tools. Even if one of these factors are not right then the end result is not going to be as desired. To overcome these issues, vendors educate their customers on optimum utilisation of tools beyond which the result would be affected. Vendors conduct periodic customer interactions like in-house seminars, real-time application monitoring, process optimisation and other knowledge sharing sessions to enrich their business relationship.
Explaining how training is an integral part of their services, Jay Shah, MD, Tungaloy India, said that they help their customers in multiple ways. They conduct regular seminars and have a module for training the shopfloor employees in the basics of cutting tools. This helps them to understand the cutting process and troubleshoot at their end. “We also train our customers for features and benefits in the new products that are being launched. Whenever a new tool is supplied to the customers, we ensure that they are trained properly to certify correct usage,” he added.
Ramakant stated that they educate their customers on optimum utilisation of tools beyond which the result will be affected. This includes a selection of proper cutting parameters, correct grade and geometry of tool, proper tool holding and lubricant that will ensure perfect cutting.
Similarly, CERATIZIT offers a total tooling solution to its customers not only by providing high-tech tooling but also by providing requisite training inputs and after-sales services to run their tooling most effectively on their machines. They conduct regular meetings with customers and organise knowledge sharing sessions by experts. “With vast network of technical sales representatives spread in almost all industrial areas along with a centralised hub of specialists, we ensure effective training and retraining processes for proper utilisation of our tools and resources in respective application areas,” Kumar added.
Keeping in sync with changing trends of machining technologies like additive manufacturing, machine tool vendors are pushing hard to ensure that manufacturing companies buy the latest tools and technologies from them. However, some waning industries like the automobile sector are responsible for the lacklustre demand in the machine tools market.
Having said this, several other industries are still doing well and are in a constant need for innovation to bring change in the way they operate. Industries such as aerospace, medical, transportation, energy and consumer products are using emerging technologies like additive manufacturing, IIoT, robotics and artificial intelligence to develop and produce concepts previously unattainable in the manufacturing world. With the automobile sector down, vendors are targeting other markets to sell their tools.
Kumar stated that fortunately, India’s power sector along with aerospace is not under decline, rather these sectors are in the trajectory of growth. The estimation is that the aerospace market is targeted to reach approximately $70 bn by 2030. “India is becoming the fastest-growing aerospace market, so it is very important to focus more on this growing sector,” he said and further added that apart from the aerospace industry another developing sector is Medical Implant & Device Segment. Currently, India’s Medical implant market potential is approximately $375 million. It is estimated to reach $2.5 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 15-20% per year. This is the fastest-growing sector as of now and India holds an excellent potential to be a leader in medical manufacturing. “CERATIZIT India has already started focused operations in this potential market. We have incorporated all the necessary products to serve all requirements. Our highly dynamic R&D and applications team is prepared to take the long voyage in the market in future,” he said.
Agreeing with the slowdown of the automobile industry and the fact that vendors are targeting other sectors, Jay explained that the oil & gas, aerospace and medical industries are in a high growth phase. However, materials to be machined in these industries are tough. “For this, we have a range of new grades and geometries to cater to such machining requirements. Also, our threading range of ToolFlo is designed to cater to the entire threading requirements of these segments for standard and special threading requirements,” he conceded.
The key for any business to be successful is to innovate and to keep up with the changing trends. The manufacturing industry, specifically, has to be aware of what the latest tools are that provide them with better quality output at a better price. Tools that were used a decade ago are completely out of business today as with new innovations, manufacturers look forward to saving time, reduce cost, reduce the use of cutting fluids and get better results. Innovation is an ongoing process and frequently new tools and technologies replace the older ones.
Mentioning some of the tools that their company has made in the last couple of years, Kumar explained that CERATIZIT is a pioneer in developing innovative new tools. Over the last few years some of the tools that have emerged from the company are Industry 4.0 ToolScope, which is a unique software tooling solution tackling various shop floor issue; HDT, a high dynamic tuning, also known as Free Turn, is a totally new definition of turning process, among others.
Similarly, LMT Tools is developing tools for the emerging areas of Industry 4.0 and e-mobility and also for existing areas of general engineering and die mould. The company has also developed intelligent special/motion tools which avoid manual adjustment and can perform tool compensation via appropriate remote control, Reddy added.
Shah explained that along with the development of new grades and geometries, Tungaloy has also launched a new range of anti-vibration boring bars to work in higher length and depth ratios. The machining requirements are rapidly changing with the advancement of Machine Tools technology. “We continuously keep on developing new tools to cater to such needs,” he conceded.