Problem High Volume CNC Routing 5mm Phenolic.. Cooling the tool?


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    Member BrianMifsud's Avatar
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    Default High Volume CNC Routing 5mm Phenolic.. Cooling the tool?

    Hi All,

    First post. I'm a Mechanical Engineer. My Dad was a Machinist (non-CNA.. "old school" mills and lathes...) so I understand speeds and feeds and holding parts for rigidity.. all the basics. I'm faced with a situation where we CNC route 5mm Phenolic Sheet in fairly large volumes. Supplier "A" provides a reasonably machinable material where we can get several hundred parts (about 6 linear feet of cutting per part) per cutter before we need to change out. Supplier "B" provides a much "harder" material, at a substantially lower price point, but so far, we've destroyed our carbide cutters (3 flute, slight spiral, starts with plunge cut) in a few parts.

    Big pressure to see if "Supplier B" material can be utilized. I'm NOT sure that we've optimized the cutter shape, nor speeds and feeds, but I know for SURE that Production will not tolerate longer cycle times.

    So back to basics, our Thermwood and Routech CNC machines use vacuum to remove chips, but there is no active cooling. Coming from the metalworking background point of view, I see the absence of coolant as leaving lots of tool wear on the table.

    Has anyone any experience applying chilled air as the "coolant" in machining Phenolics? It's nasty a horrible heat-holding material. Would this make any substantial difference pulling heat out of the tool or are things moving too fast to make a difference?

    Thanks

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    Default Re: High Volume CNC Routing 5mm Phenolic.. Cooling the tool?

    The use of cold air as a coolant is pretty common when cutting plastics. Typically, you use a device called a "vortex chiller" or "vortex tube" which operates on compressed air. Phenolics aren't usually that difficult to machine, and don't tend to melt themselves onto the cutter like some other plastics, but it couldn't hurt to try. What's probably going on is that "supplier B" is providing cloth-reinforced material, which is really hard to machine, while "A" is giving you the paper-reinforced stuff that works a lot easier.

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    Default Re: High Volume CNC Routing 5mm Phenolic.. Cooling the tool?

    Quote Originally Posted by awerby View Post
    The use of cold air as a coolant is pretty common when cutting plastics. Typically, you use a device called a "vortex chiller" or "vortex tube" which operates on compressed air. Phenolics aren't usually that difficult to machine, and don't tend to melt themselves onto the cutter like some other plastics, but it couldn't hurt to try. What's probably going on is that "supplier B" is providing cloth-reinforced material, which is really hard to machine, while "A" is giving you the paper-reinforced stuff that works a lot easier.

    Seems like an experiment that we absolutely should conduct as the pricing of one I found was only $550. The potential tool savings alone should justify it for the existing material and I'm betting that we'd improve surface finish also.

    Thanks



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    Default Re: High Volume CNC Routing 5mm Phenolic.. Cooling the tool?

    The material is probably very abrasive, and cooling likely won't help much. A coated tool might help, but ideally, diamond would give the longest life by far.
    If heat is really the issue, then I'd think that your chip load is too low.

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    Default Re: High Volume CNC Routing 5mm Phenolic.. Cooling the tool?

    Phenolic is known to be very abrasive. iirc, there is a high silica content that is just going to be tough on any cutters. Cooling will help some since the abrasion causes heat. I wonder if a water jet would be a better approach.



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    Default Re: High Volume CNC Routing 5mm Phenolic.. Cooling the tool?

    Water would not be allowed as it could wick along the paper layers and swell the material.. but TOTALLY.. if a liquid could be used, I'd be all over that...



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    Default Re: High Volume CNC Routing 5mm Phenolic.. Cooling the tool?

    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    The material is probably very abrasive, and cooling likely won't help much. A coated tool might help, but ideally, diamond would give the longest life by far.
    If heat is really the issue, then I'd think that your chip load is too low.

    On another forum, one persons recommendation was to drop the spindle speed and increase the feed to in his words: "create chips rather than dust". Our shop is run by operators, few of which have any varied experience except what they've been told to do. They run the routers at 18,000 RPM (the max) all the time. The thought process seems to be "push it til it burns/breaks, then back off"..... Getting them to change from "Tradition" will require hard evidence so that's what I'm out to find.



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High Volume CNC Routing 5mm Phenolic.. Cooling the tool?

High Volume CNC Routing 5mm Phenolic.. Cooling the tool?

High Volume CNC Routing 5mm Phenolic.. Cooling the tool?