AM Is Advancing into Tools for Machining: Examples from EMO

The design freedom of additive manufacturing delivers increased performance to tools used in subtractive processes. At the world’s leading exposition for machine tools, I saw various examples of this.


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The biennial EMO exposition in Hannover, Germany, which was held last month, is the largest trade show in the world for machine tools and other industrial metalworking equipment. I expected to see additive manufacturing (AM) on exhibit in the area of the show dedicated to this category, but what surprised me is how much AM I found in an entirely different part of the show: the area devoted to cutting tools.

Because of the design freedoms related to both fluid delivery and reducing the mass of the tool, the makers of metalworking tooling for “subtractive” machining processes are increasingly turning to AM. The photos below capture a few examples I saw of metalworking tools made additively.


LMT milling tool made from additive manufacturing

Internal coolant passages in a milling tool body such as this would typically be straight holes. AM’s freedom to provide curving channels allows this milling tool from LMT to deliver coolant precisely where it is needed. LMT says test cutting has shown a tool life improvement of 50% in milling titanium thanks to this design change.


Arno turning toolholders made from additive manufacturing

These toolholders for stationary cutting tools used in turning also offer curving channels to direct coolant to where it can best aid the cutting edge. Arno Tools developed this toolholder. A cutaway version at the far left of the build plate shows the curving internal channels.


Horn reaming tools made via additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing allows cutting tool maker Horn to tailor coolant rings to the needs of specific applications of its reaming system. Different ring designs with different passages control the pressure and direction of coolant flow to assure optimal chipbreaking.


Makino cutting tool for electric vehicle motor housing made via additive manufacturing

The advance of electric vehicles creates a demand for motor housings, and therefore the need for more machining of motor housing IDs. Machine tool maker Makino developed this tool for that purpose. Metal AM plus the use of carbon fiber composite resulted in a tool as large as the motor housing ID but nevertheless lightweight enough to be moved rapidly in the machine’s toolchanger and accelerated up to cutting speed quickly.