Cobalt-chrome and titanium remain the most frequently used, difficult to machine, materials in medical component/device manufacturing; however, the pursuit to improve manufacturing processes continues.

1. How can users choose better cutting tools?

One way would be to have 24/7 access to your local cutting tool rep; however, we realize you may not want to spend so much time with us. Kidding aside, keeping in touch with local manufacturing reps and using cutting tool selection software and/or apps should keep you up to speed with the latest technologies. Having deeper knowledge of online software and apps to assist with decisions is more important now, with COVID-19 restrictions.

2. How has cutting tool selection software evolved?

I want to stress that these solutions are a next-best option for when you don’t have access to a manufacturer’s rep/specialist. There’s no substitute for seeing the complete picture, in person, and for us to apply/recommend cutting tools based on experience. That said, ISCAR TOOL ADVISOR (ITA) cutting tool selection software has been available for more than a decade. An upcoming upgrade will offer great improvement, making it easier to match cutting tool selection with the application and adding related technologies that are part of the process (machine, material, etc.). ISCAR has offered several apps throughout the years and recently developed the ISCAR WORLD app, taking what would typically be multiple apps and putting them into one app for ease of use.

3. What technology improvements/offerings should medical part manufacturers be seeking?

Many cutting tool improvements are not easily noticed. A simple change in geometry, carbide substrate, or coating (or in combination) can significantly improve tool life. ISCAR has recently introduced geometry/grade/coating enhancements to many of its standard milling and turning products, which are demonstrating tool life improvements across a wide range of materials. Of higher importance is knowing about purpose-built cutting tools that can significantly impact overall cost/productivity.

4. What purpose- built cutting tools would be effective for medical component manufacturing?

A few examples of purpose-built lines from ISCAR are a family of solid carbide end mills and Multi-Master heads designed for titanium. Branded Ti-Turbo, they have machined cobalt-chrome material extremely effectively.

A series of barrel milling tools for finish milling applications are hybrid type tools that can be game changers. As CAM companies continue developing new toolpath algorithms making it easier to program these uniquely shaped cutting tools, companies will capitalize on their capability/productivity.

5. What can we expect from ISCAR in the future?

ISCAR is aggressive in terms of cutting tool R&D and product introductions to meet the needs of various industries. Keep an eye out for more purpose-built designs for given materials and/or processes which can have a big, positive impact on cost per unit (CPU) and cutting tool performance.

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