WIDIA Teams with Haimer GmbH to Offer SAFE-LOCK Solution for High-Torque Milling

Next-generation pull-out protection for end mills

LATROBE, Pa. — Among many challenges that come with high-torque machining of advanced, lightweight alloys, the potential for milling cutters to become disengaged from their toolholders creates costly risks for manufacturers, especially safety and downtime. Consistent with a company commitment to 100-percent safe performance, WIDIA™ now offers customers the SAFE-LOCK™ system by Haimer GmbH. The SAFE-LOCK solution provides pull-out-protection via an adapter system for round-shanked cutting tools that enhance safety in heavy-duty, high-force cutting. Combining a positive locking feature with on-center construction, the SAFE-LOCK system delivers high accuracy to enhance process reliability and extend the life of the cutting tool for greater productivity.

Aerospace, energy, and transportation manufacturers looking to incorporate advanced, lightweight materials such as high-performance titanium alloys, INCONEL®, and new aluminum alloys find them especially challenging. Not only are these new materials costly, they require intricate machining at high forces, so customers working with these materials place priority on efficient, safe manufacturing solutions.

“This has become increasingly evident in the last few years, ever since high-performance cutting tools that facilitate this type of machining have been on the market,” says Doug Ewald, lead product manager for WIDIA tooling systems. “Many industries are upgrading their manufacturing resources (machine tools, cutting tools, and tool-holding systems) to withstand high torques, feeds and forces required for a new breed of materials to ensure that their operations don’t fail and potentially scrap expensive inventory.”

The danger of milling cutters being pulled out of the toolholder at extreme forces has increased significantly. Shrink-fit types of toolholders that rely on friction alone for locking offer accuracy but don’t necessarily have sufficient clamping force for high-torque roughing operations.

The standard industry response for years has been to require Weldon® shanks for such high-performance cutting tools. The Weldon straight shank, which has a drive flat that locks in place with a clamping screw, was developed to compensate for pull-out forces while driving the end mill as hard as possible in roughing and other demanding metal-removal operations. About 70 percent of all users rely on standard Weldon holders for heavy roughing to address safety concerns, since the clamping screw acts as a positive locking mechanism. However, its accuracy is not ideal for machining such advanced materials, and runout is poor, because of the cutting tool’s characteristic offset and single-line contact in the holder bore, which reduces tool life.

Reliable high-performance milling
SAFE-LOCK is a pull-out protection system for round-shanked cutting tools. Helical grooves are ground into the shank of the tool. These, together with the respective pin drivers in the holder, prevent the tool from spinning or being pulled out of the holder altogether under extreme machining conditions. Because the helical path of the SAFE-LOCK grooves provides adjustability in the length of the tools, they can be reground and pre-set as usual.

SAFE-LOCK can be combined with the latest toolholder systems, such as shrink-fit technology, because it can be used for both high-speed as well as heavy chip removal situations. The chuck is heated as usual and the tool inserted with a slight twisting movement. The locking elements of the SAFE-LOCK system find their own way into the grooves when the tool is turned into the locking position. A spring can be used to aid in the play-free positioning of the tool. The holder cools down after a few seconds, creating the press fit and a positive lock.

Concentric accuracy of <3 µm (0.00012") is achieved during shrinking, a value that is 10-times better than any standard clamping in Weldon chucks. The stable and accurate tool clamping achieved in this way allows users to machine even greater cutting depths with higher feed rates. The tangible benefits: time savings, enhanced productivity, lower scrap rates, less vibration, and operator peace of mind.

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WIDIA-brand products and services have defined innovation in the metalcutting industry for more than 80 years — from the world’s first patent for carbide indexable inserts to the development of the world’s first coated grades. The WIDIA brand offers a complete portfolio of precision-engineered products and custom solution services. With thousands of milling, turning, holemaking, and tooling systems products available through a worldwide network of authorized distributor partners, you’ll find everything you need from one single source.