The underlying assumption when a tool is provided for an operation is that it must be the best tool for the job. However, the reality is often that it is the best tool that the supplier can offer from their off-the-shelf standard tool offerings. This was the case for a large Tier-1 automotive components manufacturer in Sparta, Illinois. While the turnkey solution being used in-house reduced the amount of time it took to get up and running, it was obvious some of the cutting tools being used were not the optimal solutions for the features they were machining.

Figure 1 – Two contact surfaces

The Application:

When our GWS Application Specialist visited this customer, they quickly brought several tools to him they knew needed further optimization. The part they were manufacturing was a clutch transmission made from a high-silicon aluminum material. The tools in question were carbide inserts used to bore and groove multiple internal part features. The inserts were held in a 2-piece holder with a Capto® C5 interface on the base end. The issue most pressing to the customer was tool life. The carbide inserts did not hold up in the abrasive casting, and the insert clamping method (Figure 1) lacked rigidity which led to vibration, chipping, and constant issues with tolerancing and finish. To make things even worse, this family of parts was using not one, but 12 different inserts from this vendor! All with the same issues. The GWS solution that we gave the customer was a two part approach.

The Solution:

For the first step, we knew we could immediately improve the tool life issue by modifying the existing proprietary inserts with a PCD tip. This improved tool life significantly, though vibration issues still resulted in tolerance and finish issues that continued to put scrap rates well beyond what the customer deemed acceptable.

Figure 2
Figure 3

The second step involved bringing the GWS Specialist and GWS design engineers together to develop a brand-new custom boring and grooving holder that would interface with the existing Capto® extension. The new design focused on adding contact surfaces between the insert and insert pocket to increase rigidity. It also focused on changing the angle of the PCD portion of the insert to increase rigidity given the current tool path of the operation. In just 8 weeks, the customer had a completely new insert holder and insert (see Figure 2 and figure 3).

The Results:

The results of the completely customized solution checked every box the customer was experiencing issues with:

✓ Tool life improved
✓ Chipping issues gone
✓ Vibration eliminated
✓ Tolerance issues resolved
✓ Scrap rate reduced
✓ Finish improved
✓ Longevity of holder increased
✓ Tool change time reduced

Figure 4 – Part section with new custom PCD insert and holder

Applying off-the-shelf catalog tool solutions for large manufacturers is easier for many reasons, but often such solutions fall short of offering the optimum tool for the application. If you feel like you have a round tool or insert operation that isn’t the best, consider contacting the experts who make Custom Come Standard, and let us find the perfect cutting tool for you. Just send us an email at to get started!