Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why Use Carbide Dies?

In short, carbide dies have several advantages in metal stamping processes. First, carbide lasts longer than steel, providing longer lived dies and higher volume stamping runs before a die needs to be replaced. Carbide is harder than steel, more wear resistant, and can withstand extremely high compressive loads.

Tungsten carbide is a type of cemented carbide made up of Tungsten, Carbon, and a binder, typically cobalt, chromium or nickel. Changing the amount of binder used changes the properties of the Tungsten Carbide and is modified to get specific properties. When the amount of binder is increased it the result is greater impact resistance but weaker wear resistance. Vice versa, less binder means that Tungsten Carbide will be be harder giving it a better wear resistance but will be more likely to fracture. A proper understanding of the various grades of carbide can increase the chances of having a successfully designed carbide extrusion dies, drawing dies or other carbide tooling.

Carbide dies are desirable in operations requiring very high volumes. Examples of this would be applications such as cold forming and cold heading operations. These operations benefit from using carbide dies and tooling in three areas: greater wear resistance, lower maintenance, and less downtime for machines that may require worn or cracked tooling to be replaced. These benefits are due to the higher wear resistance and ability to withstand higher compressive loads of tungsten carbide when compared to steel. If you wanted to up grade in these areas from carbide you will need a very fat wallet, since the only way to go up from there is to use diamond.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Historic Machine Shop

If anyone who is interested in machining gets a chance they should visit Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. There is a historic machine shop located here, it is called the Armington & Sims Machine Shop & Foundry. You can see how it was done in the old days! Powered by a steam engine (I'm not sure if they still use steam power for the engine) poles run along the top of the machine shop. Belts drop down from these poles to power all the wonderful old machines. You can see some of the same names we use today on these machines, I particularly enjoyed watching an old 1908 Brown & Sharpe No. 2 make a candle stick.

Another neat thing about the shop, particularly in the fall, is the layout. The machine shop is laid out like a cathedral to industry. Large windows flank a long building layout, although they aren't stained glass! During the cool fall day I visited a nice breeze blew threw and it was very comfortable and well lit, both very important for machine shops.

So if your in the Detroit area and interested in tool and die or machining then stop by Greenfield Village and see for yourself. Admission is about $35 dollars though, so you better like the other things they have there, and there's plenty to choose from!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tinkering your way to a Tool Shop Empire!!!

Here are several more arch-type tinkerers. The first one is an arcane tinkerer; in fantasy worlds they build the gadgets. Zeppelins and golems would be more up their alley then building carbide dies and tooling. The next tinkerer is called the "Mad tinkerer" and he is an enemy of Spiderman. This tinkerer uses his skills to make armies of robots, or something like that. The third and final tinkerer is Steve Jobs, Steve was one of the founders of Apple and famously tinkered in his garage to make the first Apple computer.

So, the next time you’re doing some grinding and your table stops (hydrollics?) or you jam your lathe, think of your favorite tinkerer and have fun with this opportunity... or just grumble and cuss and get to work, both ways work just fine but the spirit of the tinkerer is still with in yee.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What is a Tinkerer?

One should not confuse a tinkerer and a tinker! A tinkerer is a person who tinkers with machinery, modifies products and is the heart and sole of inventors and innovators. However, a tinker is someone who fixes household items with tin. These wondering tin smiths became a vagabond of sorts in the early industrial age and are associated with a negative connotation. Tinkerers on the other hand are highly regarded in society, think of Thomas Edison.

One aspect of being a successful machinist is the ability to tinker, in the tinkerer sense. Only by attempting new methods, tweaking old methods and testing these thoughts can a machinist improve upon his work and craft. While an endearing image of a tinkerer may be an old man farting around with clocks, the truth is that without that tinkering spirit innovation would come to a standstill. So tinker away, take things apart and see how they run and if they can be improved, for if it wasn't for this kind of innovator we wouldn't have light bulbs or artificial hearts!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Carbide Die & Tooling Resourses

Are you looking for online information about carbide dies and carbide tooling? When you're online looking for information about machines, machinists, tooling and manufacturing (machine shops) you will notice that there is some but not a ton of information out there. Machinists may not be online as much as gamers, programmers or the ever present Internet marketers but what I have found is that machinists and machine shop type people tend to post quality information online. This group tends to like to stick to the facts and dislike spammy marketing and excessive, unsupported self promotion. The information these die makers, machinists and shop owners post is direct and to the point, but in some of the more obscure areas, like carbide dies and carbide tooling, it can be scant. Here are some links that can help out.

General Information:
Carbide Dies - General Information about Carbide Dies
Carbide Dies - General Information about Carbide Dies and Tungsten Carbide
Carbide Tooling - General Information about Carbide Tooling
Carbide - General Information about Carbide

Machinist Forum:
The Home Shop Machinists
Machinist Web

Business Productivity:
Productive Business
Productive Business Meetings

Monday, June 6, 2011

Carbide Tooling

Carbide tooling is necessary for any cold forming, cold heading or extrusion process. Basically carbide tooling consists of anything that assists in the forming process besides the carbide dies. They are used to pound slugs into dies, cut off wires at set lengths and anything else that requires a durable part that can stand up to the punishing action of cold forming and heading. Tungsten carbide is used for this kind of tooling due to its extreme hardness and durability. In fact carbide tooling last four times longer than comparable steel tooling and this means less down time for machines and changing tooling out less frequently. In the long (or short) run, this means greater efficiency and profit.

A commonly used example of carbide tooling is a punch. Carbide punches have the punishing task of being slammed into metal slugs with enough force to cause them to form to the shape of a carbide die. Obviously this is one area where you don’t want to employ a weaker part! Think of carbide punches like the head of a hammer.

Another place where you will find carbide tooling used in the cold forming process is at the other end of carbide dies. Wire is created by forcing material through a drawing die, once through the draw die a piece of carbide tooling called a cut-off knife is used to cut the wire to length. Carbide cut-off knives can be employed anywhere where tough cuts are needed, and cutting wire will dull any edge quickly so once again carbide is used do to its hardness.

Carbide tooling obviously wears down during usage and eventually has to be replaced. How long it lasts depends on how much pressure the tools are under and the material they are being used to form. Cold forming steal will wear out tooling at a much faster rate than cold forming copper for example. Companies can often save money by sending their tooling to carbide die companies to be reworked. This will extend the life of the carbide tooling and it’s a lot cheaper then replacing tools every time they wear out.

Here’s a list of examples of carbide tooling.

Nibs Cut-Off Knives Mandrels Punches Quills Inserts Annular Rings Bushings
Bearings Shafts

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Carbide Dies

Tungsten carbide dies are used in cold forming and cold heading manufacturing practices. Basically, the very, very hard material (tungsten carbide) used to make carbide dies allows them to take a rigorous beating and this is crucial. In cold forming cold metal is pounded into the die, forming the desired shape. This impact is so powerful that the metal slug actually becomes liquid as it is forced into the die. Furthermore the metal used is often steal, so something even harder is required when using cold forming manufacturing techniques. Tungsten carbide is the second hardest material known to man, just behind diamonds and diamond dies would be ridiculously expensive!

Cold forming and cold heading is a very productive way to make parts. In fact, parts can be made every second using this method while machining parts or using a molten metal and a mold takes much longer. An added bonus is that cold formed parts have greater strength because the grain of the metal is reshaped, as opposed to cut into when machined.

Basically, if you want to make a lot of something quickly, then you want to use carbide dies and cold forming.