Traditionally, hydraulic technology has been limited to lighter cuts. But, with thicker wall cross-sections and shorter projection, Kennametal's new Hydroforce HT Hydraulic Chuck provides the stability to perform much more challenging cuts on difficult-to-machine alloys.
NED: Why did Kennametal decide to market this hydraulic chuck?
A: The market expressed a requirement for a more robust modern tool-holding solution in high-performance end milling. The current technologies did not furnish the necessary features to provide the customer with the required cutting speeds, clamping forces, and dampening capabilities. Many times, the customer was forced to decide from sub-optimal choices.
We also saw from our introduction of the KM4X tooling platform that customers were really interested in increasing their cutting capability in difficult-to-machine alloys such as titanium.
As Kennametal strives to provide total tooling solutions, it was natural to develop a holder which complemented our other market-leading technologies such as KM4X and the HARVI family of end mills.
NED: How is this chuck different from similar products?
A: The chuck utilizes an improved overall design to maximize rigidity and uses an optimized hydraulic clamping method. In the past, hydraulic technology was often limited to lighter types of cuts, but the addition of several features, such as a thicker wall cross-section and a shorter projection, provided the stability to perform much more challenging cuts.
To withstand the demands of these challenging cuts, the hydraulic expansion components were also optimized to provide outstanding clamping forces with a 3-µ runout. The hydraulic technology also provides outstanding dampening properties, which lead to extended tool life.
NED: What problems did you encounter during the development process?
A: Being able to provide the required rigidity in side-end milling operations, which provide significant bending forces, was a real challenge. We also needed to achieve a very high level of clamping force to ensure consistent cutting performance. Of course, the holding accuracy is also a key aspect of tool life and overall performance.
Hydraulic technology also offers the advantage of totally symmetrical clamping forces which provide outstanding runout accuracy.
NED: How long did it take from conception to final production?
A: Roughly 12 months. Kennametal follows a very disciplined stage gate development process. Clear objectives for meeting customer and internal needs are identified at each stage. The cross-functional development team worked effectively to meet or exceed the goals.
NED: Did cost factors play a role in changing the final design of the product? And, if so, in what way?
A: Ensuring that the technology could be offered at a meaningful value point was a top consideration of the development. At every stage, we used value engineering principles to ensure all performance requirements would be met while meeting specific cost targets.
NED: Who do you consider your target audience to be and what benefits will they realize from using this system?
A: Our target audience is customers performing high-performance end milling—for example, aerospace pocketing in titanium. We also targeted customers who require high performance and flexibility in their operations. As the hydraulic technology can also be used with sleeves, it is a great option for customers requiring a range of holders. Just change the sleeve—no need for specific holders for specific tool diameters.
NED: Please add any other interesting sidelights that you think our readers would enjoy knowing.
A: The technology not only brings several performance advantages but it is also very easy to use. No need for expensive supporting equipment or torque wrenches. We are also adding a line of sleeves, which allow us to implement the Safelock by Haimer functionality, ensuring that the end mill will never pull out.