Cutting tool users take a proactive approach to managing their cutting tools: they have learned that regrinding tools in-house can reduce costs and improve tool availability. CNC tool grinding machines are therefore no longer of interest solely for manufacturers of cutting tools.
Production companies that consume a high volume of cutting tools are reverting to regrinding their tools themselves, especially because hard-to-machine materials increase the cost of tools and shorten their service life. The advantage? The cost of re-sharpening a tool is only 30 percent of the cost of a new one. After all, many end mills can be reground at least three times. An end mill that has been reground three times saves 60 percent of the tool costs compared to the purchase of four new end mills. This is a compelling argument for performing this task internally.
Cost savings are not the only factor when considering whether to regrind your tools internally. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught suppliers and manufacturers of components to reduce the risk of supply chain disruptions. Internal control over the regrinding of tools helps companies prioritize and respond more quickly in emergencies.
There are other reasons in favor of regrinding in-house as well:
- Production downtimes are minimized, as the required tools always remain in-house.
- Promotes better flexibility and shorter lead times.
- Avoidance of excessively long regrinding times, especially for unusual geometries.
- Eliminates the need to stock replacement tools.
- Saves time.
Of course, the acquisition of a tool grinding machine also requires the addition of personnel resources. However, regrinding services can also be offered to third parties if excess capacity is on hand. One small tip: some workshops have even transformed the regrinding of tools into a profit center.
The target audience for tool regrinding is high volume manufacturers who consume many tools, such as automotive and aerospace suppliers. These manufacturers cannot afford to stop their production lines. If, for example, several tools break and no backups are in stock, then costly delays can result. This is why investing in a tool grinding machine is justified.
High-volume manufacturers can determine the interval for regrinding the tools themselves, making their production machines highly efficient. This gives them the opportunity to maximize both the service life of the machines and the service life of the tools.
Re-sharpening does not normally require deep cuts (e.g. for grooves or steps). This also has a positive effect on the service life of the regrinding machines.
Like the workpieces, tools are becoming increasingly complex and are themselves made of materials that are difficult to machine. The machining of parts made of composite materials also means higher tool wear. The cost of PCD tools is relatively high. These costs can be reduced by re-sharpening in-house.
Not every tool can be reground or re-sharpened. For example, a drill or reamer must make the same size hole in each part, so you cannot change the diameter of the drill. However, an end mill that cuts a shape up to a certain size is a candidate for regrinding. If the end mill becomes smaller, simply offset the settings to keep the created contour the same.
Less advisable is the re-grinding of smaller tools, such as 5 or 6-millimeter carbide end mills, which could be weakened by the minimal loss of material. It typically makes sense to replace these with a new tool.
For larger carbide tools, however, considerable savings can be achieved by regrinding.
Another plus point for your own tool grinding machine? Performing minor modifications on a cutting tool. Perhaps a tool has a chamfer that needs to be larger. Or its corner radius should be enlarged. A tool grinding machine can even produce special cutting tools based on your own design. This saves time and money.
The latest technical achievements in tool grinding machines? They can be automated, with a digital twin created to monitor tool wear. Some tool grinding machine manufacturers offer automatic regrinding systems for mixed batches, based on RFID tags. When each tool is loaded for re-sharpening, the machine reads the RFID tag and adjusts its grind. The tool position within the pallet can be exchanged at any time with another tool if a tool needs to be quickly reground.
Digital tools help predict better tool life by monitoring wear, temperature, positioning, and vibration. The software can also track what is in stock and where it is located.
At UNITED GRINDING, we understand the importance of tool remanufacturing – from saving time and money to the reassurance that you have more control over your production capabilities.
Contact us to solve your challenges and get the most out of your grinding technology.