Guhring UK is the British-based subsidiary of the Guhring Group in Germany. The company is known for its carbide and specialty polycrystalline diamond (PCD) cutting tools and works with the likes of BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Airbus, and BAE Systems. One of its customers — XCEL Aerospace — wanted to improve the tool life of an existing solid carbide groove milling cutter that was being used to machine a cast aluminum component. The original cutter would wear out after cutting 10 parts because the aluminum in the casting had a high-silicon content that was abrasive, and the original cutter only had three teeth. XCEL Aerospace needed to machine over 100 parts per month with this tool for a long-term project, so they needed another option.
Guhring UK was brought in to find a solution. The team increased the number of cutting tips in the design from 3 to 5. This was done with the intent to drastically increase the feed rate, reduce production times, and extend tool life. The new cutter body was then 3D printed in H13 Tool Steel using Guhring UK’s Markforged Metal X 3D printer and PCD tips brazed on to ensure a higher wear life. XCEL Aerospace is now able to machine more than 180 parts before needing tool replacement — a huge improvement from the original cutter’s capabilities. Overall, XCEL Aerospace has seen a significant tool cost-saving while reducing down-time and inconvenience of changeovers. An additional benefit is that the PCD tool can be retipped when worn, meaning the company can easily get an almost-new tool in a short period of time.