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Sustainable exchangeable head system for high-precision and efficient machining

With its SX precision tool system Paul Horn GmbH meeting stringent requirements for sustainability, cost-effectiveness and efficiency

The challenge with regard to sustainability:

Essentially, the aim was to bring about a significant increase in the efficiency of the tool used for milling ball tracks for ball joints. The goal was to extend both the life of the tool and the service life of the product being created with the tool. With a view to protecting natural resources, it was highly desirable to minimise material input and reduce the quantity of auxiliary materials (coolant, insets etc.) during the customer usage phase. Furthermore, it had to be possible to re-use or recycle the tool materials.

The initial situation:

To boost productivity, the strategy was to replace two machining steps with a single operation. In addition the key focus when developing the new tool was on conservation of natural resources. Not only did this involve looking at the materials used; it also meant minimising or finding a complete replacement for the conventional cooling lubricant associated with the customer's existing practice. Finally, there was an expectation that workpieces produced with the new tool would meet more stringent quality requirements.

The solution:

From the point of view of increasing efficiency the SX exchangeable head system has been a resounding success. It has fulfilled the project targets in terms of productivity, cost-effectiveness and conservation of resources during production. At the same time the quality of the products produced has improved.
This high-precision tool has a modular design. It consists of three parts: the base carrier, the carbide insert and the exchangeable head. High-strength connections are used at the interfaces without the need for any auxiliary materials, resulting in a precise and highly accurate tool. Depending on the task, various holder types and exchangeable heads are available for rough machining, finishing and hard milling.
The increased stability of the precision exchangeable head and the high surface quality of the ball tracks produced with this tool are attributable to the insert coating. This was specially developed for the application to protect against wear and preserve the high-strength cutting edges. The exchangeable head also underwent further technical optimisation so that the workpieces could be machined in a single work operation. By using the latest sustainable technologies, it has thus proven possible to double the quantities produced per time unit.
The exchangeable head features an internal coolant supply, which keeps lubrication to a minimum and significantly reduces the amount of coolant used. Using air as a coolant eliminates the need for liquid coolants completely.
Paul Horn GmbH offers a service in the interest of sustainability, whereby it will take back the basic holder (where necessary) and provide it with a new carbide insert.

Strengths in terms of sustainability:

Environmental sustainability and protection are achieved thanks to the efficient tool manufacturing method that is designed to conserve resources. Resources are also conserved during actual use by keeping the amount of coolant to a minimum.
The tool life is increased by applying a coating that provides protection against wear. The coating systems used by Paul Horn GmbH use the latest technologies and are therefore emission-free.
The modular design of the tool means that only the head of the tool needs to be replaced when it becomes worn. Even then, no waste is generated. Instead, all modules undergo reprocessing or recycling. In the interests of cutting costs and conserving resources, they are then fed back into the production cycle as perfectly reconditioned products or used as secondary raw materials.

The inventor:

Dr Matthias Luik (Dr.-Ing.) works at Paul Horn GmbH as a specialist in design engineering and machine tools. In 2010 he took charge of R&D. By developing the SX intelligent exchangeable head system he has succeeded in creating a sustainable and high-tech tool concept that leaves nothing to be desired in terms of quality, cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

Brief company profile

Name: Hartmetall-Werkzeugfabrik Paul Horn GmbH
Headquarters: Tübingen
Founding year: 1969
Employees: 731
Solutions: Manufacturer of precision tools
International presence: Sites in France, Hungary, the UK and the USA. Worldwide distribution in over 70 countries