The digitisation of manufacturing – a key element of Industry 4.0 – is redefining production methods, and the metalworking industry is taking note, despite its characteristic traditionalism.
Metalworkers have started to adapt to this new environment by building or overhauling systems to facilitate more efficient processes.
New demands have affected and influenced almost every element of a technology process: from planning and communication networks, to machinery – and even cutting tools, which are arguably the most conservative element in a manufacturing system. Cutting tool producers need to react appropriately and provide products according to these new requirements.
Digitisation in the cutting tool field is characterised by two emerging trends. The first trend is to enable the cutting tool to communicate with advanced machinery and cyber-physical production systems in order to advise about variables such as tool wear, predictable tool life, total time of the tool involved in cutting, and so on.
The second trend relates to the information about the tool that should be provided by a cutting tool manufacturer. Manufacturers are expected to supply data about their products, and catalogs and guides have long been an integral part of the product itself. The challenge now is to include digital information as a necessary essential element of a cutting tool, which ensures applying tools in various steps of a production process, starting with virtual manufacturing.
A good illustration of this is the ISO 13399 standard, which specifies computer representation and data exchange for information about the cutting tools and their holders – a first step for making the tool digital data platform-independent. Only tools digitally specified in accordance to this standard will be utilised by smart factories, making comprehensive digitised data sources an important direction for cutting tool manufacturers; this integration of data will form an inseparable part of a cutting tool.
Cutting tool manufacturers will not only improve their own production by implementing advanced technologies but will represent an essential link in an industrial information chain providing data for smart factories and engineering companies.
One cutting tool manufacturer that recognises the central importance of developing and adopting digitised solutions for metalworking operations is Iscar. Its Matrix system, an automated tool dispenser that is an integral shop-floor-level element of a smart factory, as well as tool assembly options in 3D and 2D formats in E-CAT, Iscar’s electronic catalogue, are typical examples of the way its products are intended to unify the material and virtual worlds of smart manufacturing.
In addition to the existing milling tool assembly option, E-CAT has enriched its instruments for virtual manufacturing by introducing a new assembly option that relates to drills and taps. This new function allows creating the twin representation of a drilling or tapping tool assembly based on the ISO 13399 standard. The assemblies are accessible in both 3D and 2D files, which can be downloaded from E-CAT on the Iscar website and incorporated directly into a user’s CAM system.
As a result, various simulations of cutting operations, collision checking, finding an optimal tool configuration, and other functions can be performed. The simulations prevent or significantly diminish the possible errors on the shop floor and help to save time and cut costs in process planning.
Data on Iscar’s tool dimensions, inserts, appropriate tool holders and recommended cutting data is accessible via the Iscar 4.0Pro mobile application, developed for maximising tooling utilisation. ISCAR 4.0Pro is a smart 2D Matrix barcode scanner that acts as a digital gateway to advanced tooling resources of the company, so that customers can make better decisions regarding tool selection and their realisation on the shop floor.
The application provides quick access to technical data for each Iscar product. The information corresponds to the ISO 13399 standard and to the tool assembly, cutting conditions, tool material grades, weight, user manuals, and numerous other items. The data is accessible by scanning the 2D Data Matrix barcode, which appears on Iscar tools and product packages.
A world of information
Iscar recently launched Iscar World, an expanded application that embraces all Iscar’s online apps, interfaces, and product catalogues in a single space. The app gives instant access to E-CAT, ISCAR 4.0Pro, E-Commerce (an online tool ordering system), a media channel, Iscar Tool Advisor – an expert system for tool selecting, technical data, machining calculations, frequently asked questions and more, enabling users to review, compare, check, and select the tooling solutions that are right for their needs. The application constantly updates and expands its store of knowledge by collecting new data, opening a virtual doorway to a whole world of updated information.
Smart manufacturing in the Industry 4.0 era features a combination of real and virtual worlds, based on network technologies, for every link of the manufacturing chain including cutting tools. Advanced manufacturing systems require cutting tools to “possess” a rich world of relevant data – a high IQ – as a necessary condition for incorporating the tool into their intelligent machining processes.