How PCD Tooling Will Change Your World
Diamond tools can last up to 100x longer than carbide tools, reducing downtime and tooling costs by up to 90%, in the correct application. One example of this is in the machining of high-density abrasive materials such as compact laminate or solid surface, materials which are becoming more prevalent in high end joinery. In this application, diamond tools are unbeatable. The surface finish of diamond tooling is unparalleled, potentially reducing sanding costs and rejects.
The time and cost saving of diamond tools can be re-invested back in to growing your business… or taking a holiday 😉.
The impressive performance of diamond can be attributed to its equally impressive mechanical properties such as high hardness (5000+ HV), fracture toughness and surface smoothness. Diamond is 3x harder than carbide!
Properties of Diamond
Polycrystalline Diamond (PCD) is a synthetic material which requires incredible amounts of heat (1400-1800◦C) and pressure (4-10 GPa) to produce from a mixture of diamond powder, carbide, and bonding metals (mostly cobalt). Once formed, PCD is machined on grinding or electric discharge machines, resulting in a surface roughness of less than 0.4 microns (extremely high accuracy and low friction cutting). Manufacturing and machining PCD is an expensive and time consuming process which is why diamond tooling can be such a large investment. However, as technology improves the cost of synthetic diamond is reducing rapidly and the quality and ability of diamond tools is only getting better. Some of the 2 wing PCD straight bits, which are perfect for solid surface and compact laminate, start from as low as $320+GST AUD. Here is an example of one of those tools:
Example: Machining Compact Laminate using a 12mm PCD straight bit Z=2 to machine 13mm compact laminate.
- RPM – 18000
- Feed rate – 6-8m/min
- Depth of cut - 6-8mm.
Result: Mirror finish for 1,000s of metres.
Applications of Diamond
PCD tooling is not limited just to hard plastics, it is regularly used on engineered wood materials such as MDF, chipboard, laminated board, plywood etc. It is also regularly used in solid timber applications. Diamond compression tools are incredibly popular for nesting around the world. However, just like any tool, impurities in the material, high chatter or overloading the tool can cause it to break down pre-maturely. Therefore, diamond tools should be used on high quality materials and with high precision tool holders such as hydro chucks, where possible, to get the full value from it.
Another point to consider with diamond is the geometry of the tool. Since diamond is such a hard material, it has a large cutting angle. The large cutting angle increases the load on the tool and workpiece when cutting.
Nonetheless, in the correct application diamond tools are the most economical and efficient choice for a high-quality cut.