Has Sandvik just turned turning on its head?

In March 2017, Sandvik celebrated the 75th anniversary of the establishment of its Coromant brand at the company’s facilities in Sandviken, Sweden, complete with cake and all. There was even a special present.

It was, however, not one that Sandvik received, but one it presented to manufacturers that rely on turning operations, writes James D. Sawyer, Editor in Chief at SME.

Revolutionary in concept – it might even be called radical – the PrimeTurning methodology could very well turn turning on its head.

Sandvik Coromant believes that PrimeTurning will be of benefit to the automotive and aerospace industries, “where there is a need to perform external turning operations in large batch productions or where multiple setups and tool changes are often required.”

Sandvik Coromant refers to PrimeTurning as an “all-directional” turning solution that allows a single tool to perform forward and backward cuts as well as facing and profiling operations. The tool enters the workpiece at the chuck and removes material as it travels toward the end of the component. This permits a smaller entering angle, a higher lead angle and affords the possibility of higher cutting parameters. Once the tool reaches the end of the component, its course can be reversed so that it then cuts in a conventional fashion.

PrimeTurning is intended for applications involving short and compact components and components with tailstocks.

The bidirectional nature of the tool is an asset to increased productivity. So, too, is the smaller entering angle, which allows for increased feed rates. The small entering angle, as well as the higher lead angle produce thinner, wider chips that spread heat away from the nose radius, which helps extend tool life. Longer tool life increases machine utilisation by reducing setup time and lessening the number of times production must be stopped for tool changes. Also, because cutting is accomplished in the direction moving away from the shoulder, there is virtually no risk of chip jamming.

Sandvik estimates that the Prime system could increase turning productivity by more than 50%.

In fact, during the methodology’s gestational period Sandvik selected 120 customers who put PrimeTurning to use. In one case study made during this trial period, the cutting speed and depth of cut PrimeTurning delivered resulted in an 85% improvement in productivity over a conventional turning system and a 125% increase in tool life.

Rather than simply being a new tool design, PrimeTurning is a comprehensive package of tools and software. It is supported by 52 varieties of toolholders.

According to a Sandvik Coromant release “PrimeTurning is initially supported by the introduction of two dedicated CoroTurn Prime turning tools and the PrimeTurning code generator, which supplies optimised programming codes and techniques. CoroTurn Prime inserts have three edges/corners; one for longitudinal turning, one for facing, and one for profiling.” The edges/corners are intended to optimise edge utilisation and give greater tool life.

The two initial tool offerings are Prime A designed for light roughing, finishing and profiling; and Prime B designed specifically for rough machining.

The company promises that there is more to come in the way of the Prime methodology and hints that it may appear as soon as the EMO trade fair in September.

Given that Coromant’s Product Management and R&D group led by Camilia Engbrink numbers better than 500 employees, including more than 60 PhDs, it’s not surprising the company would turn out a solution such as Prime. The methodology came wholly from inside Sandvik rather than from a customer request.

“We have a high rate of innovation,” said Engbrink, “We push out 30–40 new patents every year and introduce six new items every day of the year on average.”