Machine Design

Machine Tools That are Cooled Last Up to Twice as Long as Non-Cooled Tools

Keeping machine tools cool can double their life, according to researcher Rado Gazo at Purdue University.

Gazo discovered that cryogenically treating tungsten-carbon router bits, as well as cooling them while they cut, boosted their operational lives, in some cases doubling them. The bits used cobalt as a glue to hold the tungsten and carbide molecules together. Friction heats the bit during cutting, causing a chemical reaction in which the cobalt melts and evaporates. This lets the tungsten and carbide particles simply fall off.

Bits cooled by 40 or 20°F air during use lasted 25% longer. Those cryogenically treated worked 65% longer. And bits pretreated and then cooled with 40°F air lasted 85% longer, while 20°F air let tools operate 217% longer. Cryogenic treatments involves cooling tools to –300°F, then bringing them back to ambient, a process that can cost just a few dollars per pound of tools, which should be feasible for toolmakers.

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