Friday, September 23, 2011

How slow can you go?

If you take a light and shallow enough cut or run the spindle speed slow enough you can minimize the effects of Machining Dynamics and avoid chatter. But how low? You can damage a lot of parts, break a lot of tools and waste a lot of time on the way down as well as trying to go up. The BlueSwarf Dashboard shows you exactly where a milling tool assembly wants to run in a machine and in a material. It shows you the fastest speeds, the highest depths and widths of cut, but also the slowest and lowest along with everything in between..

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The new BlueSwarf Dashboard for Titanium

For this demo Dashboard, we added buttons at the bottom:
  1. Current Parameters show where the process was running before we got there.
  2. The Catalog Recommendations are just that, the speeds, feeds and depths of cut recommended by the cutting tool manufacturer.
  3. The Number Buttons work as follows: Press 1) to optimize the speed, 2) to increase the depth of cut, and 3) to increase the feed rate.

Introducing the BlueSwarf Dashboard Version 2.1

For this demo Dashboard, we added buttons at the bottom:
  1. Current Parameters show where the process was running before we got there.
  2. The Catalog Recommendations are just that, the speeds, feeds and depths of cut recommended by the cutting tool manufacturer.
  3. The Number Buttons work as follows: Press 1) to optimize the speed, 2) to increase the depth of cut, and 3) to increase the feed rate.

Monday, September 12, 2011

If its in "harmony" why would you want to break that up?

At BlueSwarf we chafe on the misuse of terms. We received a major exorcism with this blog post  from Mark Albert of Modern Machine Shop. However we are often seeing the following term use with cutting tools; "it breaks up harmonics."

Experienced end users can tell when a machine tool sounds right and when it doesn’t. Stable, chatter-free milling produces a clear tone—a single, dominant frequency. Chatter, on the other hand, produces a harsh tone, often with different frequencies mixed together. It seems that this is what is being referred to as "harmonics". That is not technically correct.

The definition of "harmonics" when applied to physics is "a wave whose frequency is a whole-number multiple of that of another"

Let’s start by considering the cutting sounds that are a normal part of milling. Often there is the sound of the tool’s teeth hitting the workpiece. That hitting causes a force at the tooth passing frequency, and that force causes the tool to vibrate, creating the sound. A tool with two teeth rotating at 15,000 rpm will have a tooth passing frequency of 500 Hz. Other frequencies may also be present in the sound. For example, tool runout causes a once-per-revolution force, or 250 Hz for the previously listed case. The runout frequency is exactly half of the tooth passing frequency. If the radial DOC is small, then the force is a series of sharp spikes appearing at the tooth passing frequency. This kind of force leads to other sound components at exact multiples of the tooth passing frequency, and these are called “harmonics.”

When milling with a two-toothed tool at 15,000 rpm and a small radial DOC, there will be sound frequency components at 250 Hz (runout), 500 Hz (teeth passing) and multiples of those (750 Hz, 1,000 Hz, 1,250 Hz and so on). Because the resulting sound waves line up exactly, the combination sound will still be clear and dominated by the tooth passing frequency. These are the "good" harmonic frequencies that result in a stable cut.

What if the cut is not stable (chattering)? All assemblies of tool, toolholder and spindle have one or several frequencies at which they would like to vibrate, and these are called “natural frequencies.” When chatter occurs in milling, a new frequency appears in the sound that is not the runout frequency or the tooth passing frequency, and not harmonics (integer multiples) of those two. It is the chatter frequency. The chatter frequency is close to, but not equal to, one of the natural frequencies, and it is not connected to the tooth passing frequency. The chatter frequency sound mixes with the pure sounds of the tooth passing and the runout frequencies, and the resulting sound is harsh because the frequencies are not aligned.

So they would be closer to correct if they said they try to break-up "non-harmonics".

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shop Floor Vending Feature on CNBC

Skilled Labor Discussion on CNBC

Matt Tyler of Vickers is a member of the National Tooling & Machining Association.

What if you could give your programmers or operators the skills of a skilled set-up machinist that you can't find?  They could calculate fully optimized and stable speeds, feeds and cutting depths for every job, every time.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A New Perspective on Tool Balancing

There are plenty of reasons to balance your tool assemblies, but we will give you one you may not have heard:


When you preset tool assemblies to the same projection, torque the knobs and screws to the correct values and balance them you eliminate all variation. If you have stable speeds, feeds and cutting depth, using a BlueSwarf Dashboard for example,  the your process will remain stable.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Different Perspective on Tool Presetting

It is not reasonable to expect that the effective diameter of a tool rotating at 1 RPM on a presetter in a climate controlled tool room will be the same as when it is in a 10,000 RPM spindle with rising bearing and ambient temperatures. Tool offsets should be measured on the machine with lasers or probes in order to compensate for environmental changes. However this does not mean that offline presetter are still not very valuable. Building or reloading a tool assembly to pre-determined and consistent dimensions ensures dynamic repeatability. Also, delivering an accurate "logistically preset" tool assembly to a probe-equipped machine will allow for a quicker approach to the probe and prevent crashes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tool Optimization and Management System Presentation

BlueSwarf Tool Optimization and Management System™

Every applicable milling tool assembly is tap-tested in a shop by BlueSwarf personnel or our Distributor. A RCSA artifact test is also made in each machining center. Digital photographs and weights of each assembly are recorded.  The inventory locations (such as their slot in a vending machine) of the consumable components are recorded. Dashboards, bill of materials and CAD files are generated for each tool assembly. The Dashboards™ and CAD files are organized by machine tool in the web-based Tool Optimization and Management System (TOMS™).

TOMS™ is accessible in the cloud via user name and password. The administrator of the shop can add and delete users. The password page can be embedded in the website of the distributor, machine tool dealer or customer and is always is available at

Once logged in, the user is presented with all the machining centers that have been tested. They can upload and store documents and/or files (i.e. ballbar reports, service manuals, service records, maintenance instructions, etc.) to each machine tool.

Clicking on the machine tool will present all of the tap-tested tool assemblies. They are listed by operation icon (i.e. endmill, ball endmill, 90 degree face mill, 45 degree face mill, etc.) the tool diameter and the material code color (i.e. blue for steel, yellow for stainless, red for non-ferrous, etc.) for the workpiece materials that the tool can machine.

Hovering over the tool assembly will present links to the Dashboard, the CAD file and the Harmonizer file. They can also upload and store documents or files.

To activate the Harmonizer® service, users will record and submit the baseline threshold and cutting audio recordings for their tool assemblies with a Dashboard number and submit them to BlueSwarf. Authorized Distributors could do this for them using their Pocket Harmonizer.

BlueSwarf will create a Harmonizer (.hr4) file for that Dashboard and save it to the cloud. The users will download a read-only copy of Harmonizer® to view the .hr4 files. At regular intervals users can then record the cutting audio of any tool assembly with a Dashboard number using whatever device they have and submit it to BlueSwarf.

For example, they can record it on an iPhone with the free SoundCloud or SocialCAM  (audio and video) app, add the Dashboard number in the comments and share it on Facebook, Twitter or email. BlueSwarf customer service personnel will instantly see the Twitter or Facebook posts on our Assistly customer service system.

BlueSwarf engineers look up the existing Harmonizer file for that Dashboard number, process the audio file, save it and it will appear in the Harmonizer® file history accessible from the user’s TOMS account. We will alert the user to any potential issues or speed recommendations detected from the recordings.

They can also order a RCSA Dashboard for a new tool assembly for that machine by clicking the appropriate link.

Following the initial creation of the Dashboards for existing tool assemblies, BlueSwarf engineers will compile a Kaizen Report listing any possible improvements that could be made. Once this Kaizen event is completed and all of the tool assemblies have been optimized or replaced with more productive tools, the customer now has a highly efficient tool management system. The programmer or machinist can quickly select tools for their dynamic performance rather than strictly by their dimensions. All they need to look for is the diameter, operation icon and material codes as described above. For example a longer tool may perform far better, due to dynamics, than would a shorter tool selected through a typical parametric search.

We also provide them with 12-month free subscription to the TOMS™ system.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Technology Gap in CNC Machining

Smart Machining. Start getting smarter now.

Our colleagues at TechSolve and the U.S. Army’s Benet Labs are working on a project called the Smart Machine Platform Initiative (SMPI). The goal of SMPI is: “In order to meet 21st century manufacturing demands, next generation machining technology must have the capability to modify and optimize instructions prior to execution. This optimization through adjustment will be based on in-situ (embedded) sensing and control logic systems that understand current equipment condition and process parameters to generate new instructions for the optimized manufacturing process, "smart" machines."

With currently available technologies, a shop can implement Smart Machining today with your existing equipment, tooling and software. For example, by predicting tool point behavior with BlueSwarf Dashboards™ and not allowing damaging vibrations to occur in the first place you can meet the SMPI’s “First Part Correct” philosophy. BlueSwarf Harmonizer® technology can periodically monitor and maintain a high performing process while detecting possible service issues early. By stabilizing the performance of a process, you also maintain consistency of the tool lifecycle, thus making shop floor vending and automated reordering more accurate.

Smart Machining is the future, but you don’t have to wait for new machines with embedded sensors and self-correcting software to be invented and brought to market. Take a predictive approach today with BlueSwarf.

Science-based Speeds and Feeds are coming. Do you want to be the first to benefit from them?

Using science rather than intuition to determine speeds, feeds and depths of cut is the future of machining. Right now, cutting tool manufacturers and CAM programs rely on static paper tables without taking into consideration the toolholder and machine in which it is being used. They are used as starting points followed by unguided trial and error testing.

A Wikipedia article entitled “Speeds and Feeds” describe the current method; “In CNC machining, usually the programmer programs speeds and feed rates that are as maximally tuned as calculations and general guidelines (with charts and formulas) can supply. The operator then fine-tunes the values while running the machine, based on sights, sounds, smells, temperatures, tolerance holding, and tool tip lifespan.”

Excessive vibrations occur, typically manifested in what is called chatter. The study of tool point vibrations and chatter is a field called Machining Dynamics. Research on chatter and machining dynamics is being conducted worldwide. A recent review in the International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacturer cited 174 published research papers on the subject of chatter and Machining Dynamics. Note that the BlueSwarf team (founders, employees, advisors and partners) is responsible for 28% of these peer-reviewed papers.  Patented and proven BlueSwarf technology is available now.

Welcome to the New BlueSwarf Blog

We have been blogging since 2005. We have restarted to reflect the recent changes at BlueSwarf. In addition to our regular blog posts, we will also be posting new developments that come out of our new Center for Tooling Research and Logistics in State College, Pennsylvania and our other research partners in High Speed/Efficient Machining, Lean and Six-Sigma.