By Conor Carlin, International Sales Manager
On August 1, CMT Europe officially opened for business! With a full inventory of HYTAC® plug-assist materials, cut-to-size services and 2 full time employees, the new operation opened the doors and began shipping orders immediately. At the same time, I put several thousand kilometers on the (very small) car with our new sales engineer, Luc Hoefnagels. We visited thermoformers and toolmakers in multiple countries to talk about the new operation and also to discuss technical matters.
During one visit to a large thermoformer, we spent some time with the CNC operators to talk about machining FLX material. They had recently made some plugs for a new mold and we were discussing the finer points of cutting. I showed them a ½” solid carbide, 2-flute cutting tool to illustrate the high-helix geometry that works best with syntactic foam. When using a tool specifically designed to cut syntactic foam, the intent is to take as large a chip as possible as quickly as possible, eliminating heat buildup or surface marring while controlling any chance of chip-out.
The operator asked if he could try it in his machine to re-cut a similar piece of material and compare the finish to the plug he had just made. After swapping out the end mill, he dialed in the program, increasing the speed to match the new tool geometry, and began to cut another small block of FLX. When complete, we all gathered around to compare the surface finish. Though we didn’t have a profilometer to measure the precise surface profile, there was enough of an improvement for the operator to ask if he could keep our tool! (We gladly provided it to him.)
This encounter, and many similar conversations, only proves what we at CMT have seen in tool shops and thermoforming plants around the world: knowing how to machine HYTAC® materials leads to faster throughput, better plug performance, longer tool life and happier machine operators.