Z-Mill – Designed for High Feed Rates

The Z-Mill high shear PCD (polycrystalline diamond) router bit is designed for running at high feed speeds while still providing an excellent finish quality. This tool is supplied with a high-density steel tool body and depending on the cutting diameter, is offered with either 2 or 3 cutting wings.  What sets this high-performance PCD bit apart from the rest is the 20-degree position of the cutting tips.

High Shear PCD Router Bit - Z-Mill

High Shear PCD Router Bit – Z-Mill

The high shear angle provides an excellent finish and the durability of the diamond will lead to cost savings when compared to solid carbide over the life of the tool. The Z-Mill is well suited for cutting a variety of materials including MDF, Chipboard, Laminated materials, and both hard and soft wood. The high shear angle offers the benefit of reduced cutting pressure and promises improved results, especially when exiting the material which many times leads to “blow out” . The performance of this tool in terms of speed and finish quality is truly unmatched.

 Contact us for more information on the Z-Mill  and for more information on how PCD can improve your tooling budget.

What is Polycrystalline Diamond (PCD) Tooling?

PCD Saw Blade

PCD Saw Blade

In the right application, using PCD tooling can reduce your tooling cost significantly.  PCD (Polycrystalline Diamond) has been used in the wood/composites industry for over 35 years due to its abrasion resistant properties and hardness.  This synthetic cutting edge material was pioneered by General Electric’s Specialty Materials Division.  PCD is composed of diamond particles that are sintered with a metallic binder at extreme temperatures and pressures,  creating the hardest and one of the most abrasion resistant materials used in cutting tools. Tooling that utilizes this specialized material is now used in a wide range of machining applications including sawing, routing, drilling and profiling to maximize tool life and reduce production cost.  Ideal material applications include cutting chipboard, MDF, particle board, HDF,  and many composite materials including solid surface, fiberglass and phenolic.

PCD tooling

PCD Tooling in HSK 63F Collet Chucks

Like tungsten carbide, PCD is available in multiple quality grades. Most machine applications are supplied with standard quality grades with varying grain size. More demanding applications may be supplied with coarser grain or a “polished” tip.  Polished PCD helps prevent material buildup on the cutting surface (face) which improves tool performance due to less heat generating in the cut.  If you are considering using diamond tooling or if you have any questions concerning the feasibility of using polycrystalline diamond tooling, you can count on GUHDO to provide the guidance and knowledge to solve your most difficult machining applications, click here to contact us now.  In addition to delivery state-of-the-art PCD tools, we also sharpen PCD in-house at our facility in Marietta, GA.

PCD Radius Cutter

PCD Radius Cutter

Diamond v. Carbide : Weighing the Costs and Benefits

PCD tooling Under the right conditions and with proper maintenance and handling, significant cost savings can be achieved by running polycrystalline diamond (PCD) tooling.   Understanding the basics of diamond tooling is important when contemplating its use in your own production line.  First and foremost, think of it as the marathon runner, as it will yield the best results in continuous and steady cutting of homogeneous materials.  Diamond tooling is not advisable as an all-round tool that will be required to meet demands of a wide range of cutting applications on a day to day basis.  So, if you are machining different materials and want one tool to do it all, the diamond tool will not be able to excel as well as it will if you are machining, for instance, 3/4″ MDF all day long.

Polycrystalline diamond is manufactured in a high-pressure, high-temperature laboratory process that fuses diamond particles onto a carbide substrate, which, in turn, allows the diamond to be brazed onto a tool body.  PCD has an exceptionally high wear resistance factor, in particular with abrasive composite materials that are often difficult to machine with carbide.  Examples are:  particleboard, MDF, OSB, high pressure laminate, phenolic, fibre glass etc.  Depending on what material is being machined, it is not unheard of for a diamond tool to outrun carbide by a ratio of 300 : 1!  Nevertheless, when deciding whether to switch, be conservative in your cost analysis and base your decision on the diamond bit lasting 25x longer than carbide.  You won’t be disappointed!

The original developers of synthetic diamond were GE (Specialty Materials Division) and DeBeers  (Element 6) who pioneered this process and mastered the know-how of synthesizing diamond for industrial cutting applications.  Meanwhile, there are a number of synthetic diamond tool blank manufacturers, and the quality, durability and wear resistance is not always equal.

When shopping for a PCD tool, it is important to discuss your proposed use and expectations in detail with the tool manufacturer as this allows for selection of the proper PCD grade (grain size), and optimum tool design.  In particular,  you want to be certain that there is no more PCD on the tool than actually needed (i.e. don’t order a tool with 1.1/4″ cut length when you only cut 3/4″ material because that needlessly increases the tool cost.

To understand the complete picture and compare “apples to apples” when shopping, it is important to ask the following questions:
How many times will I be able to sharpen this tool under normal wear conditions?
What will it cost to sharpen this tool?
How long will it take to turnaround a tool when sharpening?

If you neglect to get answers to these questions,  you might be in for a surprise to find you were sold a “disposable” tool that cannot be sharpened at all, or can only be sharpened once.  Or, you might think you are getting a bargain when you buy the tool, only to find you are going to be expected to pay 50% of the new tool cost to get it sharpened.

These factors significantly affect the cost per linear foot machined so are important to know when doing a cost comparison or justification for PCD tooling.  Below is an example of a cost comparison using a diamond saw blade versus a carbide tipped blade:

Screen shot 2012-12-04 at 11.59.11 AMcost per linear foot formulaScreen shot 2012-12-04 at 1.01.11 PM

$.0028/$.0143 = PCD costs 19.6% of carbide when comparing $/Linear Foot (80.4% cost reduction) 

Another advantage of PCD tooling, apart from the longer tool life,  includes the quality of finish which is often significantly improved and therefore requires less sanding.  With carbide tools, the finish starts to deteriorate from the very first cut onward, whereas the diamond tool maintains a nice clean finish right up until it becomes dull…..at which time it plummets and should be pulled for sharpening.  Pushing a diamond tool to run a little longer once it shows signs of becoming dull  (a good indicator is when the machine amps increase), can result in a substantially larger sharpening cost as the diamond face can shatter and require re-tipping/replacing of the cutting edge.

At first glance PCD tooling seems expensive when compared to carbide however when we compute the cost per linear foot machined, in the right application, PCD will be revealed as the only choice for discerning shops that are cost conscious.  As you can see from the cost calculation above, the investment in PCD tools pays off rather quickly. Some of the top PCD applications are machining abrasive materials, composites and workflows that do high volume of the same cut and material type.

With PCD router bits, maintaining correct chip load is very important as heat buildup during the cut will damage the diamond and can lead to tool failure.  Accurate tool clamping systems with close tolerances are also essential as is firm material hold down to avoid any vibration during the cut.   For specific questions about PCD tooling, please contact us or give us a call at 1-800-544-8436

Tooling for Cutting Composites

The use of composite materials has been on the rise for years due to their unique characteristics including reductions in weight and increased flexibility.  By definition a composite is a combination of two other materials used to create a unique material that is superior to either input material (a super-material?).  The performance increase makes composites more difficult to machine,  however, selecting the proper tool for the application is paramount to optimizing tool performance.  Each composite type comes a unique set of cutting challenges due to the materials structure which, unlike metal or wood,  is composed of layers of fibers and resins bonded together with intense heat and/or pressure.

ceramic fibersDue to structural differences, composites will behave differently based on the materials used in the creation of the composite, so when cutting a new material it’s important to do a test cut on scrap material.   Cutting composites requires getting through the different layers of various material types by chipping, ripping or shredding.  Common composites include carbon fiber or fiberglass layered and bonded by polymer resins such as epoxy and polyurethane. Each of these layers react differently when cut and the heat generated by the cutting tool can cause de-lamination or worse if not machined properly, leading to excessive tool wear and a change in tool geometry.

Diamond tipped (PCD) tools are often most effective in cutting composites as it’s important for the tool to cut with minimal force applied to the material. Composites will “eat” through solid carbide tools in many cases, so while the sticker shock of PCD may detour some people the cost per linear foot machined will be drastically decreased when compared with solid carbide.

With drilling composites, splintering can be an issue, so using PCD tools is especially important as a dull bit will lead to layers being pushed aside vs being cut.   This leads to de-lamination or “blow-out” on the exit side of the material.  With a new material it’s best to test the characteristics prior to machining any large project as the observable properties will be important in finding the right RPM/feed rate to optimize cut quality.

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 7.22.28 PM

Carbon Composite/ Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic Example

The example carbon fiber tools used:

1 Diamond-Dowel Drill

2 DIATEC-4 Diamond Router Cutter

3 DIATEC Diamond Cutter w/ Alternate Shear Angle

4 DIATEC-4-Quattor Diamond Router Cutter

 For more information on application specific composite tooling contact us today so we can discuss your exact needs.