Basic Tools and How they are Designed

If you are new to machining or reverse engineering, perhaps you have heard the basics of tool design and machining. What are these terms, and what do they mean? Is this a complicated thing to understand? What are the different kinds of machining?

Simple to Complex Design

The basics of tool design and machining are nothing more than a progression from basic engineering concepts to more complex processes in a manufacturing setting. For example, consider the development of the push press, or the earliest form of CNC machining. Without the help of such innovations as hydraulic presses, the evolution of the push press would not be possible.

Using CNC

Such a basic machine was used to press a large number of objects together, forming complex shapes that were pressed into a mold. Over time, improvements were made, and these improvements were applied to the push press tool design. As improvements were made, the tool was eventually redesigned to create even greater things. A similar evolution is happening with the manufacture of the CNC machining (a machine designed, again), now known as the CNC press tool. Similarly, incremental improvement within the tool simply means that the next step forward was recognized, and was then applied to the process being performed.

Constantly Evolving

Machining has come a long way, and while improvements are constantly being made to the equipment, the tools themselves are also continuously evolving. Tool design techniques are constantly changing, being re-developed and adapted as technology improves. In the case of CNC machine tool design and production equipment, it’s the same. What used to be a simple case of forming metal into a specific shape is now often achieved with extreme precision using computer numerical controlled (CNC) tools. The term “wire cut” describes the CNC tool cutting a particular shape within the mold, where the wires are cut along a series of lines that have been drawn.

These are just some examples of how this technology evolves and develops. Within the world of engineering metrology,  there is a term that is often used, and that is “feedline”. It simply refers to the line that joins the feed conveyor with the material or the mold, and in turn the tool design. Feedlines allow the engineer to design the actual shape of the molds, or the end product, in advance.

Press Tools

Another related document is the press tool file, which is similar to a CNC machining (lathe, milling, wire-cut, EDM) file. The difference is that, instead of being used to form metal into a specific shape, the press tools allow engineers to manually cut out shapes from a computer model. Press tools usually have a different shape than the corresponding CNC machining files, which means that they have edges that are conical, or nearly conical. In addition to this, they also have various different heads, such as scissors, V-grooves, cutters, lathes, and others, which enables the user to cut various shapes into materials based on the file sizes.

Alison Lurie

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