ABL Engineering

A Quick Guide to Precision Tooling

The biography of a high-end tooling company is determined by exceptionally high production standards. Within the workspace of every committed manufacturer is a competitive production environment based on precision engineering practices. These practices equip feeding mechanisms and control armatures with the high-performance tools that are designed to fabricate components and entire assemblies, integrating these parts within products destined for diverse engineering disciplines.

Demonstrating a multiplicity of tightly engineered profiles, machine tools cut and mill with single-minded purpose, pushed along three dimensions by computer software. Rotary cutters match and exceed the challenge set by a CNC operation, delivering design versatility, an inherent toughness that's able to consistently repeat the CAD controlled process, and many other factors. The materials the tool tips and contouring edges are made from are naturally manufactured from durable materials, but inserts add even more cutting durability. Carbide, a carbon reinforced compound, is one option for fabricating parts without loss of edge sharpness, as is polycrystalline diamond and cubic boron nitride.

Installing these durable cutting edges, PCD tips, CBN inserts, carbide tools, these are central precepts in machine tool design, especially when accounting for the thermal properties of the metal being worked upon, but it's the application the tool is being fitted for that interests us at this point. The profiles of these tools define their efficiency by the density of their insert, but it's the function of the tool, its dimensions and configuration that creates its label, setting it apart from generic tools. A dovetail is one example, a rotary tool manufactured to create mortises and dovetail slots. Milling tools remove sections of a component, creating the initial outline of the part, switching over to a more detailed milling process to move the part from its coarse shape to a finely detailed product ready for boring, threading, or any other deformation work. In fact, refer to the term milling and we're swept along to pages of literature describing the attributes of the tools with colorful adjectives.

Precision tooling is the craft of milling, shaping, deforming, and generally fabricating components to match incredible specifications as defined by no-nonsense computer software, but the profiles of the tools are near infinite. They chamfer edges, countersink drilled holes, thread those holes, and create contoured grooves and slots. A design engineer's task is to equip the machinery with the right tool, accounting for the density of the raw material with the right insert, a dense cutting material.

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