1.) What would you define as a modular cutting tool?
Any cutting tool that uses some type of mechanical interface, typically a thread, to join the cutting tool with the chuck or toolholder interface.
2.) What are some key attributes of a good interface for modular systems?
1) Multiple contact surfaces where the tool and the holder or collet meet. 2) Load-bearing threads that are better equipped to handle radial loads. 3) A pilot mechanism that improves accuracy and enhances rigidity of the interface.
3.) Any other noteworthy advancements in this technology?
Solid ER collet systems with internal threads that mate with these modular systems can be a huge advantage for mill/turn applications, in terms of reducing tool setup time via faster tool changeovers and repeatable tool length offsets.
4.) How important is the design of the threaded interface to the actual performance of the tool?
Absolutely critical! In fact, most modular systems fail as a result of interface, not the tool design itself. This is why most modular end mills, as an example, are not available with longer lengths of cut. The interface is simply not strong enough to sustain the higher cutting forces that come with having a longer cutting area.
5.) Where do you see such systems saving user’s the most?
Anyone using large diameter carbide tools can realize a cost reduction by simply using a shorter piece of carbide that carries less of a consumable cost. Replace the 8" long piece of carbide with a 3" piece of carbide, and integrate a reusable steel or carbide extension to achieve length.