When working in a high-production environment, tool life is often a top priority. To some extent, it doesn’t matter that you have the best or most expensive tool; it’s more important to maintain a consistent lifespan so as not to break parts, but the question is how to achieve this?

How to know tool wear in advance?

Many factors can contribute to tool wear, from the tool itself to external factors such as coolant, machine maintenance and material hardness. While achieving 100% repeatability is unrealistic, the key is to keep as many factors the same as possible from job to job and part to part.

Establishing repeatability makes it easier to prevent catastrophic failures that can damage the workpiece and tool, even before the tool is completely worn out, which is much more expensive than taking the tool out prematurely. Therefore, cost savings are one of the biggest benefits of consistent tool life. It is better to replace the tool earlier than to push it to its maximum life and possibly damage the tool part or machine parts, resulting in more setup time and more machine downtime.

Considering the benefits that can come from establishing a controlled process, here are some tips to help you achieve this better:

From bacteria and machine lubricants to acids and cutting debris, coolant contaminants can hinder the protective layer coolant provides to tool materials and cutting edges.Whether using a refractometer to assess concentration levels or water test strips to measure pH levels, maintaining coolant is always cheaper than replacing the entire system or risking damage to your tools.

To achieve the same tool life, preventive maintenance of machine tool components and fixtures is necessary. Vibration and lack of rigidity due to worn output components can cause damage to new tools that a shop encounters on the shop floor. Overall, it is important to schedule maintenance and upkeep on your equipment to reduce tool costs and machine downtime.

While it can be difficult to purchase materials from the same supplier due to supply chain issues, it is important to try to purchase from the same supplier as differences in materials cause knives to work differently. When purchasing from different suppliers, it is important to monitor the inspection reports (MTR) received to ensure that the chemical composition is comparable (in this case, material composition) and make necessary changes to procedures to extend tool life.

For general purpose machining, tool holders are usually not the primary factor in reducing tool life. However, to achieve consistent results at higher spindle speeds, it is necessary to have a well-dynamically balanced toolholder and ensure that the tool is assembled with minimal runout to produce good results. Cleaning of the tool is also an important aspect of tool retention. After use, the tool will come with cutting fluid, which may cause errors in tool measurement and may lead to malfunction or inconsistent measurement results.

The same tool, the same working conditions and processing technology means consistent results. The key to doing this is sourcing tooling from a manufacturer with a good quality system that produces the same quality parts every time. If the manufacturer switches, even if the tool size is the same, the process will be affected because quality and performance standards vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.