The K show taught us a few things about the newest developments in thermoforming machinery and tooling. The application of information technology to the thermoforming process, for example, was one interesting trend that echoes what we see in many other industries where “big data” is the order of the day. Having the ability to meter and monitor data from various sensors, gauges and scanners can help operators dial-in the process to minimize waste and optimize start-up. The ToolVu system and the Illig “Intelligent Control” system were two examples on display. We’re also working to create new parameters related to plug speeds, temperatures and positions that can be fed into these new systems.
For all the advances in technology, however, it was interesting to see how certain fundamentals are not always well-understood. We spent plenty of time talking about how to machine and polish plugs to get the best part possible. From showing people the high-helix geometry of our solid carbide cutting tools to calculating feed rates, it is clear that practical information goes a long way.
Remember that feed rate = spindle speed (RPM) x chip load x # flutes. Too low a feed rate will generate excess heat and reduce tool life. Too high a feed rate will cause poor surface finish or part movement during machining. Proper settings will result in a tool operating at or near room temperature.
What we have developed in our machining guides needs to be passed along to machine operators and those technicians working most closely with tools and plugs. Small changes can make a big difference in both plug surface and final part clarity. Let us know how we can help.