In case you aren’t already familiar with tap or cutting tools, they are a subset of machine tools that include tool bits, drill bits, reamers, end mills - and the list goes on! They’re quite complex. In fact, they are so complex and versatile, you may not realize how many industries depend on them!
Most commonly, cutting tools are used in the manufacturing and forming of parts for the automotive industry (there are around 2,400 parts that make up the internal combustion engine!). But did you know that cutting tools are also used in the aerospace, defense, oil and gas, and medical instrument industries? From the creation of specialty vehicles, well and pipe incisions, to surgical instruments, cutting tools are highly versatile and in high demand!
Why Friction Welding?
Typically, cutting tools are made from expensive high-speed steels (HSS), or Hardenable steel. Hardenable steel is, well, very hard to weld. That’s why the common cutting tool joining method, brazing, just doesn’t cut it. Cutting tools and high-speed steels have stringent requirements, and friction welding can help.
So, what are the benefits of Friction Welding for Tap and Cutting Tools?
1. More careful heat control – Due to the difficult nature of welding Hardenable steel, heat control is paramount for cutting tools. Welding Hardenable steel requires more energy (heat) input at a slower rate. Luckily, the friction welding process allows both parts to be heated while extending first or second friction, thus cooling the components at a slower rate to avoid the risk of cracking or becoming brittle before any necessary heat treatment that may be needed.
2. Joining bimetallics / dissimilar metals – While cutting tools are typically made with high-speed steel, MTI can substitute the expensive material for a more cost-effective material on the non-critical areas, saving on material costs. So, the cutting end of the tool can be made by high-speed steel while the shank is made by a different material such as carbon steel.
3. No filler material needed – With friction welding, no filler material is ever used, unlike with brazing. Using filler materials in the welding process requires more preparation time to clean the metal and can result in weaker weld joints. Friction welding creates a solid-state bond between the two materials being joined, which means those materials retain all if not most of their parent material strengths.
4. Flash removal – If your tool requires flash removal for the extruded material, our friction welding machines have the capability to remove flash immediately after the weld is complete as a post-weld process.
In addition to the benefits listed above, friction welding is also faster, stronger, and cleaner. In a matter of seconds, a friction welding machine can pre-machine, weld, and remove flash from cutting tool components reducing the overall production time. As a solid-state joining technique, friction welding creates a forged quality bond as strong as the parent material, resulting in superior joint strength. Lastly, the friction welding process, through the extrusion of materials known as flash or upset, also acts as a self-cleanser for surface contaminants.
At the Cutting Edge of Cutting Tools: MTI & FWT
While MTI is known for our larger custom-built machines, we also specialize in smaller, standard machines. In 2022, we acquired Friction Welding Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (FWT), a pioneer in friction welding machines including machines for tap and cutting tools. In fact, the very first machine FWT manufactured was for a cutting tools company. Since then, FWT has delivered cutting tool machines ranging from 15 to 45-tons to all of India’s top cutting tool manufacturers. FWT is our standard line of Direct Drive Friction Welders ranging in size from 6 to 125-tons that customers are using in production across Europe, North America, and Asia.
Plus, if you are considering adding automation into your tap or cutting tool production to further reduce cycle times, MTI and FWT can make it happen. To learn more about FWT's machines and solutions, download the FWT whitepaper.
Take a look at the FWT 30-ton in action including pre-machining and flash removal:
FWT's 30-ton Direct Drive Friction Welder used for joining tap tools.
Let’s Get Started
Reach out to the author, Steve Marr, head of Business Development in Europe.
MTI US LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/manufacturing-technology-inc
MTI UK LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/mti-welding-technologies-ltd