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A Cut above the Rest

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Prashant sardeshmukh, Director & VP, MMC Hardmetal India, explains the radical innovations to have come from his company.

Mitsubishi has invented some radical tools in terms of technologies. Could you tell us about some of the unique technologies?
Market demand for leading-edge materials and technologies continues to grow for automotive and aircraft industries. With rapid strides in technology, we also observe a paradigm shift in customers’ approach and change in market requirements. Being globally acclaimed brand, we have to keep our loins girded to meet these requirements. In recent times we have put a major thrust on base material and coating technology. We have focused on developing all new cemented carbide substrates and fusion sigma coatings. We also undertake recycling of tungsten carbide, a rare metal and focus on the recovery of used cemented carbide tools. As regards sintered parts, we have developed them for automobile engines and transmissions.
We constantly take on challenges of technological innovation deriving from our materials technologies and endeavour to contribute to people, society and the earth through application of its unique technologies.

Considering that tool makers are large in numbers, how do you distinguish and stand out in the market?
We value relationships and are committed to deliver on our values. Our aim is to create products and technologies that distinguish us and enable us to win out in the global materials market. This propels us to become a leading corporate group. It is about caring to create value for customers.

MMC Hardmetal provides customised and special tooling solutions through its Aurangabad works.

Going forward, do you think there will be a change in the way tools are used?
In the days to come, use of tools would certainly involve plenty of automation, enormous data and artificial intelligence. Processes involving plenty of machining leads to higher cost of production. Therefore, the manufacturing intelligence system will play a decisive role in how cutting tools are used and would automatically optimise the cost of machining operations. Automation will allow the manufacturers to work more safely and productively. Similarly, large amount of data is produced during manufacturing processes but most of it exists in different systems. Linking and integrating this data, available in different pockets, will be helpful to create contextual relationship between each of the data items.
In future, actual cutting life of the tool can be captured automatically by utilising automatic-identification-technology to identify each unique cutting tool. Moreover, data pertaining to complete cutting tool genealogy can be integrated from cutting tool inventory database and product database. This would provide unprecedented visibility to the cost of machining individual features on any given part and allow optimisation on part-to-part basis.

What is the lifespan of a tool and how do you help customers prolong that?
It depends on a lot of parameters. Basically the main machining parameters like speed, feed and depth of cut determine the tool life. Each of these factors have a different effect on tool life. However, preventive machine maintenance, fixture conditions, coolant hygiene, etc., also contribute a lot. For the best tool life, we need to evolve processes for shortest cutting time.
In order to help customers prolong the tool life:
(i) We impart proper training to them.
(ii) Share all the required and important information to have proper selection of tools depending on the workpiece material properties and machining conditions.

What is the difference in tool used, say in automotive or aerospace industries?
Workpiece materials and safety standards are different in automotive and aerospace industries. This demands for a totally special range of cutting tools for the aerospace Industry. Automotive components mainly consist of alloy steels, cast iron and aluminium materials. A lot many new developments occurred in the recent past to improve machining efficiency of these parts.
High strength, light-weight and corrosion resistance are the key material traits in aerospace. These normally comes under difficult-to-cut materials. Developing tools for difficult-to-cut materials is core strength of Mitsubishi. These tool demands for completely new carbide substrate to withstand the cutting forces and heat generated during cutting, a new coating technology in imparted by ensuring no compromise of the sharpness of geometries. All new phase-toughened ceramic coating layers are used for machining of ‘difficult-to-cut nickel based and cobalt based materials.

Globally and in India, what are some of the alliances you have for technology?
Mitsubishi continuously explores possibilities of alliances for new developments. To name a few, we have an alliance with Kyoto University and Tokyo University in Japan. Researchers from these universities work hand in hand with our R&D department in developing out-of-the-box machining concepts like continuously rotating insert which will eliminate need of tool indexing. Mitsubishi is planning to launch this product in 2019.

You have a high-tech centre in Aurangabad. How has it helped since you set it up?
This is our first manufacturing facility in India. It has given us strategic and logistical advantages. In India, customers expect us to provide complete solutions. Naturally our sales and marketing strategy revolve around this. We provide highly customised and special tooling solutions through our Aurangabad works. We have well-established, state-of-the-art facility at Aurangabad and the designing and manufacturing processes are carried out under the careful supervision of our Japanese experts.

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