3D Printed Cutting Tools
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    Default 3D Printed Cutting Tools

    Has anyone tried to make cutting tools such as turning inserts using 3D printing? I know that a few companies have tried this with mixed success. But has anyone on here tried this? Aside from the obvious advantages such as complex geometries, would there be any other advantages? How would the properties such as hardness, toughness and micro-structure compare to a conventionally made insert?

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    i would think no because they would still have to be ground(making them more expensive than forged) and im sure not a strong as solid carbide

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    Honestly I have no idea how this could ever be better than the current techniques. the detailed geometry would be an accuracy challenge, especially at sharp corners etc... and it would be SLOW compared to mass production of sintered insert techniques already in use.

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    It's already being used for a lot of bodies, to provide better through-tool coolant channels otherwise impossible with previous techniques.

    As for the inserts or solid cutters themselves... "sintering" is an additive process, right?

    ETA: example: Additive Manufacturing Makes Subtractive Cutting Tools :


    Additive Manufacturing

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    You're right. But is there a drastic difference between "sintering" something vs "printing" something?

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    Quote Originally Posted by carborundum View Post
    You're right. But is there a drastic difference between "sintering" something vs "printing" something?
    Sintering is old so it's not as sexy to the technofetishists. But it's taking precisely controlled powder, with near-zero waste, and forming/baking it into the desired shape, so I don't see why there is any effective difference between that and laser sintering something layer-by-layer. The layer-by-layer thing has more geometry freedom and requires no tooling unlike traditional sintered metal processes but I don't know that it would be discounted from being an 'additive' process.

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    The biggest problem is with density. If the part is not consistent in density, the voids will cause failure. As has been talked about already, it would make more sense to print the mold for a carbide part than the carbide itself. Carbide companies poop those inserts out like chicklets and a 3D printer would never match the productivity.
    For tool holders there is some hope. There are a few companies that are experimenting with printed bodies for odd flute shapes and coolant configurations. Material density is an issue for these as well. We are not far from a time where this will be somewhat common, but there are still a few bugs to work out.

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    Sintering of carbide is a drastically different deal than printing.
    Even a laser sintering 3-D printer can not make carbide.
    Just as a starter carbide inserts shrink 30% in all directions when sintered.
    Added layer would have to overhang and be larger than the supporting layer and somehow you have to get the cobalt to flow into the underlying already sintered stuff to bond this layer.
    Should we mention you also have to do this in a vacuum?
    One could 3-D print the green (unsintered) blank and then run it through the furnace but it would be sooooo slow and very hard to control the finished size.

    One of those things that looks like a good idea until you understand the devils in the details.
    Bob

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    ^I don't see why you could not run a std carbide - cobalt powder in one of the current laser sintering machines - there already running a inert argon environment, if you prefer vacuum would be just as doable. The shrinkage would not be the same as with current techniques as theres not the additives - waxes and such to burn out that give a green insert its strength, most of the shrinkage would be delt with vertically layer by layer just as a moulding currently shrinks.

    That said i don't think you would still get the density that current compression approaches give. I do think it could give you some very good wear resistant areas in say slurry pumping type parts. To me one of the key things additive manufacture opens up is not makeing things we currently make as we currently make them, but far more making composite parts were the materials differ as different needs - physical properties are met in the part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by adama View Post
    That said i don't think you would still get the density that current compression approaches give.
    What compression approaches are you talking about? Die pressures in cabide making are very low. Think aspirin press.
    It does no good to use high pressing pressures other than filling tiny corners in the die on a complex geometry.
    The density comes in the sinerting stage where the part collapses in on itself as the binder turns liquid, hence the huge shrink factor.
    Your next layer has to be 30% larger than the part. That means it is hanging out in the air.
    And then there is sinter-hip which is perhaps what you are referring to. This can produce a high cobalt "skin" on the tool when needed or simply help collapse voids depending on how it's used.
    I do see where you could lay down green with a printer but controlling would be difficult.
    Bob

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    No the next layer does not have to be 30% bigger than the part, because your not forming the whole laer in one hit like you do when you sinter a insert, You just sinter the small dot what ever diamiter the laser beam is, most of the loss would happen vertically not horizontally.

    Your 30% figure is not the shrinkage from a liquid turning into a solid, but a powder turning into liquid and loseing all its void spaces. With most SLS systems the powders spread as a thin layer, then its selectively sintered and the process is rinse and repeated. You sinter at near net size, you don't have to sinter a 1.3" sided cube to end up with a 1" cube like you you would a insert, you do have to build up far more layer hight in powder than you actually end up with solid metal though.


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