Please click on the cover to view
Laser & Waterjet Profiling
Register here for a free monthly edition of the magazine
Subscribe here to receive our free newsletter for a monthly round-up of the latest news and features
It’s a busy time for Sandvik Coromant. Not only is the tooling company getting ready to unveil a raft of new products at MACH – it’s also celebrating its 150th birthday. On top of that, the company has also invested heavily in its UK headquarters based in Halesowen. Dave Tudor reports.
Sandvik has come a long way in the 150 years that have elapsed since Göran Fredrik Göransson founded the business in 1862. In the early years the company was almost entirely based in Sweden but today its reach is truly global. Current figures reveal a total (Group) global workforce of just under 50,000 employees and an annual turnover of SEK 94 billion (Swedish Krona). Sandvik Coromant, the largest part of the Sandvik Machining Solutions Group employs 8,000 employees worldwide.
“In the UK, Sandvik has long established links with the pioneering days of the mid to late 1800s when steelmaking technology was emerging,” reveals Magnus Ekback, Sandvik Coromant’s UK managing director. “Indeed, our founder, Göran Fredrik Görannson was instrumental in redesigning the Bessemer furnace process that is synonymous with the birth of steelmaking.”
During a recent press conference – also attended by Klas Forsström, the president of Sandvik Coromant – Mr Ekbäck reflected not only on Sandvik Coromant’s successes – 2011 was an excellent year in terms of sales and the company is reporting £10 million of cost savings through enhanced productivity for its customers – but also the future of manufacturing in the UK.
He is genuinely enthused by the fact that manufacturing – particularly in the metalcutting sector – continues to drive the economy. “At last the Government seems to be taking manufacturing seriously,” he remarks. “In this area we’re seen a real boost to the automotive industry with Jaguar Land Rover looking to increase output at its assembly plant in Solihull. Similarly, we’re also delighted that JLR has decided to develop its engine manufacturing plant in the West Midlands which again should bring much needed prosperity to the area.”
Investment all round
Sandvik Coromant’s UK headquarters in Halesowen is home to the company’s inside sales and engineering staff as well as cutting edge Application and Productivity Centres. Around 70 members of staff are employed there and recent renovation of the office areas has brought about a complete facelift – aesthetically the offices are now totally open plan, modern, spacious and bright.
The investment isn’t only confined to the office areas however. In its Productivity Centre, a new Heller FT 4000 5-axis machining centre has recently been installed which will enable Sandvik Coromant to provide support to manufacturers across the UK, operating in a wide range of sectors including aerospace, automotive and the oil and gas industry.
The FT 4000 is one of the most powerful machines of its type with impressive spindle power and high torque characteristics coupled with high levels or robustness and reliability. “The new investment will ensure we have the technology to offer first class demonstrations and high cutting capacity for a range of tasks from five sided machining through to complex free form workpiece geometries using Sandvik Coromant’s latest tooling innovations in drilling, tapping and gear milling applications,” Mr Ekbäck affirms.
Geoff Lloyd, managing director of Heller Machine Tools, adds: “We have a number of demonstration machines across Europe but we have chosen the Sandvik Coromant Productivity Centre as the key location to house our UK machine. Sandvik Coromant has developed a longstanding reputation for excellence in cutting tool technology and we see this as an ideal opportunity to showcase our machine and demonstrate how it can work hand in hand with the latest in cutting tool innovations.”
As Mr Ekbäck explains, the Productivity and Application Centres are key elements in the Sandvik Coromant ethos: “The Productivity Centres are a global concept and there are 20 located around the world,” he explains. “They are used for training our own personnel, channel partners and customers and enable us to share the wealth of cutting tool knowledge we have built up over the years. I like to think of them as universities. Each and every year around 30,000 people are educated in our Productivity Centres. We plan to enhance our training offering even more this year through a range of online courses.”
The Application Centres however are a different proposition entirely. “There’s less emphasis on training and education and instead a focus on specific customer projects so there’s much more engagement directly with the client,” Mr Ekbäck divulges. “Our objective here is simple – to provide specific solutions to specific problems so that our customers can be more productive and efficient.” In the UK, Sandvik Coromant operates two Application Centres: Aerospace, based at Halesowen and a Deep Hole Machining facility in Cirencester.
Sandvik Coromant’s president, Klas Forsström adds: “We’re dedicated to providing products and solutions that will ensure more profitability for our customers. When you consider that a 20% increase in machine utilisation can provide a 10% higher gross profit margin and an increase in cutting data of 20% can decrease the cost per component by more than 10%, our products play a key role in making these objectives a reality.”
With one eye firmly on MACH 2012, which at the time of writing is only nine weeks away, Sandvik Coromant will be exhibiting alongside its business partner Dormer Tools. The former will occupy 180m² of space in hall 5 on stand 5571 and the latter will be located adjacently on a 75m² stand. Although the two companies will be sharing some hospitality, in every other respect the presence will be as two separate companies.
For Sandvik Coromant with CoroPak 12.1 due for imminent release, the primary focus for 2012 will be centred on a range of new drilling solutions. “We would normally, in a typical year, introduce somewhere in the region of 2,000 new products,” reveals Sandvik Coromant’s business development manager, Steve Geddes. “This year it’ll be closer to 7,000 and although much of this will be comprised of product migrations, there’s a number of new – and what we consider to be radical – products that we’re really excited about.”
One product falling squarely into this category is what the company considers to be the fastest solid carbide drill available on the market – the CoroDrill 860. Available in lengths 3-8xD as standard, the high performance drill can be applied to a wide range of holemaking tasks for maximised cost per hole reductions in steel workpieces. For instance, aside from conventional drilling and stack drilling, CoroDrill 860 is adept at producing chamfered holes and cross holes as well as holes through inclined or convex/concave surfaces. Excellent chip evacuation control is demonstrated when using high cutting data in long and short chipping materials, enabling the drill to provide consistently problem free drilling at high penetration rates to boost both hole quality and tool life.
Sandvik Coromant says the secret behind this competitive and economical drilling concept is completely new geometry combined with an innovative flute shape that offers a cutting edge optimised for effective chip clearance – particularly at increased rates of penetration. A further benefit is that the lower cutting forces offered by the drill provide fewer problems when encountering issues such as weak fixtures or thin walled components.
Also new is the introduction of a completely new type of exchangeable tip drill – the CoroDrill 870, which is designed for the intermediate hole tolerance area of IT9-IT10, saving time and improving hole/cost performance.
The drill can be tailored to optimise applications through various diameter ranges, steps and length possibilities. The resulting efficiently produced, high quality holes are therefore better suited to subsequent operations.
A secure coupling interface between the drill body and tip is designed to ensure high reliability and precision while the quick and easy tip change procedure helps to maximise active machining time. Tip changing can be performed while the tool is still in the holder to avoid the loss of valuable cutting time. Furthermore, CoroDrill 870’s new cutting edge geometry and drill flutes provide a safe cutting process with optimised chip control, high penetration rates and long, dependable tool life.
CoroDrill 870 is available in diameters ranging from 12mm to 20.99mm and in lengths of 3xD and 5xD as standard. The first package released focuses on the ISO-P material area (steel).
On the subject of performance, Sandvik Coromant has introduced a new regrinding service for the CoroDrill 860 that claims to restore drills to an ‘as new’ condition. “Whilst some tooling manufacturers will recoat and regrind their products to provide perhaps 70% of the original performance levels, we actually guarantee that there will be no difference in performance between a reconditioned drill and a brand new drill,” Mr Geddes adds.
Tapping into new technology
Something of a departure from its normal product offering is Sandvik Coromant’s new range of tapping products. “This is a brand new area for us,” Mr Geddes reports. “We’re not known for taps at all but we believe this will broaden and strengthen our product portfolio significantly and importantly, enable us to develop a market presence. Like all our products, our ultimate aim is to increase productivity and over the coming months we expect the range to develop significantly as more and more products are added.”
Listed conveniently in an extensive new tapping product catalogue, two core ranges will make up the customer offering: CoroTap tools are for optimised productivity in each of the ISO materials; while Spectrum tap tools provide reliable performance for multi-material machining.
Dedicated to specific materials, users of the CoroTap range can expect a number of performance benefits – in particular the ability to create high quality threads at high speeds. Among the new introductions are CoroTap 210 and CoroTap 370, both of which are capable of producing through holes and blind hole operations in steel materials. Here, edge design is an important feature and the CoroTap edge treatment and grade coating generate significantly reduced axial forces and torque. Ultimately this makes the tool run more smoothly, contributing to improved surface quality and tool life.
Spectrum is a full range of taps for multi-material use that provide good productivity and high capacity utilisation through versatility. Designed where flexibility and mixed material production is a priority, the range includes cutting taps available in a choice of DIN, DIN/ANSI, ANSI and ISO standard for through and blind holes. They guarantee high performance with good chip evacuation due to an optimised flute profile and constant rake angle along the flute. The Spectrum range also includes forming taps, which with an optimised flute profile generate low torque and smooth surface on the finished thread.
In fact, Sandvik Coromant’s Spectrum range will extend into other tooling ranges such as Spectrum Turn ISO inserts for general turning applications. With Spectrum in general, the emphasis is on flexibility rather than productivity – producing a range of tooling that will appeal to a wide reaching audience and a multitude of applications. Two grades (GC15, GC30) will be available in three geometries.