KYOCERA SGS: a Total Innovation Aerospace provider.
KSPTE is one of the leading authorities in the development and manufacture of high-performance solid-carbide cutting tools for machining next-generation demanding materials for use in challenging applications in a number of highly demanding sectors.
Through its technical staff’s expertise and adaptability to customers’ needs, as well as its state-of-the-art equipment, Kyocera SGS has attained significant recognition in the challenging and competitive aerospace industry.
Aerospace-sector components, which demand tight tolerances and exceptional surface finishes, fall into three main categories: Airframe, Engine, and Landing Gear.
Airframe components such as ribs and spars are typically produced from aircraft-grade aluminium, and the milling of these components often involves removing a large volume – over 90% – of the raw billet. Therefore, highly efficient machining is required to reduce the cost and keep up with customer demands.
While the ‘cold’ side of the modern jet engine uses both metallic and non-metallic materials, including aluminium and carbon fibre-reinforced composites, the ‘hot side’ requires the ability to reliably machine heat-resistant super alloys, such as Hastelloy, Inconel, Waspaloy, Rene alloys, Haynes alloys, Incoloy, MP98T, TMS alloys, and CMSX single crystal alloys. With these difficult-to-cut materials, achieving the required tool life and machining efficiencies takes knowledge and experience, and KSPTE has helped numerous customers attain a reduction in machining cycle times that previously seemed impossible.
The strength requirement of the landing gear – which must hold the complete weight of the aircraft during take-off and landing – has for many years restricted the material to highly processed steels. While the aircraft industry has searched for tougher, lightweight steels with exceptional reliability, it has in parallel also introduced alternatives such as titanium and Polymer Matrix Composite (PMC) materials.
To efficiently machine these parts, a comprehensive, integrated approach from the cutting-tool specialist is essential. KSPTE calls this Total Process Innovation, and it requires an expert team to look at the entire process, often from a new perspective. Optimisation comes from detailed analysis of every element required, including the machine tool, fixture, toolholder and, of course, the cutting tool. The goals are to reduce both set-up time and machining cycle times, as well as to improve quality and process reliability.
Total Process Innovation is usually driven by the customers’ requirements to meet difficult project challenges. These may be based on the materials being machined; tolerance, geometric form and surface finish required; cost savings as the result of process efficiency gains; or a combination of all these factors. At this stage, it becomes a strategic partnership between KSPTE and the customer.
AMRC, a strategic partnership of excellence
The high-end cutting-tool industry is developing closer collaborative relationships with industry partners and customers, which will enable companies like KSPTE to offer high-value solutions that meet the expectations and demands of the aerospace machining sector in the medium and long term.
The AMRC was established in 2001 as a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the aerospace giant Boeing. Since then it has expanded rapidly on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Yorkshire and has helped many manufacturing businesses to become more competitive through the application of new techniques, technologies and processes. Kyocera SGS is a Tier 1 Member of the AMRC and works with them to develop more efficient machining methods using the latest developments in tooling technology.
‘At the AMRC, we get to work with a lot of different demanding components and R&D projects,’ commented Steve Neale, KSPTE’s Senior Applications Engineer. ‘This diversity gives us a unique perspective on the challenges posed, and the solutions available, in applications across the aerospace industry.’