ArCut X with assistance system from Fraisa SA

Nominated for the PRODEX Award 2019: Precise combination of hardware and software for cutting tools. The ArCut X was developed by Fraisa as a conical circular arc milling cutter in close cooperation with CAM manufacturer Openmind.

How innovative is the nominated product?

This precise combination of hardware and software for cutting tools is highly innovative. The ArCut X was developed by Fraisa as a conical circular arc milling cutter in close cooperation with CAM manufacturer Openmind, based on mathematical algorithms. A tool-specific assistance system (ToolExpert) adapted to the cutter has likewise been verified. Today, an ArCut X milling cutter with ideally matched cutting parameters can reduce the machining times of the finishing process up to 90%. These productivity gains are made possible by the perfect coordination of the hardware (tool), the cutting data, and the CAM (software). This hardware/software handshake represents a totally new approach in the machining industry and gives an indication of the currently unrealized power of Industry 4.0.


What is the significance of the nominated product for the industry?

In the long term, production can only be maintained – and jobs secured – in high-wage countries if the costs are on a par with those at Asian manufacturing plants or if the quality is significantly better and customers are willing to pay a premium price for this privilege. The combination of an ArCut X and the ToolExpert assistance system meets these requirements in every respect. Owing to the large circular arcs on the tool circumference, workpiece surfaces can be machined ten times as fast as with a conventional ball nose end mill. The quality of the surfaces is simultaneously improved and the tool wear is significantly reduced. The outcome: dramatically reduced production costs and long-term job security.


How commercially successful has the nominated product been so far?

A flat sales curve was originally predicted for the tools because the ArCut X milling cutter was not yet supported by all CAM systems at the time of the market launch. However, the incredible impact of these tools with modified cutting data on productivity convinced many firms to switch to the new technology immediately, and therefore the sales curve has been much steeper than anticipated. The targets for the year were achieved after just six months.


What is the wow effect of the nominated product?

You get the wow effect on customers when surfaces which used to take a whole hour to machine can now be completed in less than eight minutes with equivalent or better surface roughness. The key lies in the perfect coordination of the tool, the CAM and the cutting data. Enormous quantities of material and application-specific process data are stored in the assistance system and linked by means of algorithms, so that top cutting performance and excellent surface qualities are assured with no need for complex tests. In the old days, customers were extremely reluctant to use a more straightforward barrel milling cutter because they found the running-in process too complicated. However, the ArCut X with the ToolExpert assistance system is seen as a plug-and-play solution and acceptance is accordingly high.


Description of the nominated product:

Surface finishing is one of the most time-consuming processes when manufacturing molds or dies. Many of these surfaces are nowadays machined using a ball nose end mill, where very low axial infeed rates are essential to achieve good quality. The tool engagement and machining times are thus extremely long and tool wear is a major challenge. Ball nose end mills are the norm for this kind of operation in mold and die-making because they are easy to integrate into a CAM.

Fraisa was aware of this problem and approached a CAM manufacturer with a view to developing a milling cutter which supports simple and trouble-free CAM integration and features large circular arcs rather than a small radius. The highly precise tool design is based on a mathematical algorithm invented by Openmind, the CAM manufacturer. The hardware and software foundation which was laid in this way was mathematically precise and hence an ideal starting point for precision machining. However, it lacked application parameters that would enable a milling cutter to be optimally deployed depending on the engagement conditions. Fraisa’s answer was to develop an assistance system (ToolExpert) for the ArCut X, which supplies the customer with material and application-specific cutting data to ensures top cutting performance and excellent surface qualities. Lengthy, cost-intensive on-site test phases are avoided in this way, and small to medium-sized customers in particular are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the plug-and-play solution, which ships in several different variants.

The ToolExpert makes it easy to select both the tool and the cutting data. The clearly structured menus enable intuitive selection of the material and the process, for example pre-finishing, finishing or super-finishing. By clicking the tool variants that are offered based on these selections, users have a fast and precise route to the cutting data. The ArCut X must be comprised of three precisely defined radii on the conical surface, with one circular arc engaged depending on the process conditions. The process data which is displayed for each circular arc radius ensures problem-free use. The ArCut X’s huge radii of up to 1,000 mm allow much higher axial infeed rates compared to conventional ball end nose mills, where the radii are in the single-digit decimal region. The longer contact area of the cutting edge results in significantly less – and also more uniform – tool wear because the machining load is distributed over a larger cutting edge surface. The result is a longer tool life and excellent surface qualities with short machining times.

The assistance system is designed so that, after internal correction values have been applied, the machining forces which are calculated based on the chip cross-sections and the material parameters approximate actual conditions. This feature paves the way for self-regulating processes directly on site in the future, which is a key condition of Industry 4.0.

The ArCut X milling cutter range and assistance system thus provides a very user-friendly and highly innovative solution that enables a significant reduction in both machining and programming times of finishing processes.


Experience the nominees for the PRODEX Award 2019 live on the innovation islands on the Smart Manufacturing Platform (SMP).