Using Metrology to Assess Tool Coatings for Enhanced Protection, Refinement and Stability

Improving the quality and durability of tools is the ever-increasing demand for tool manufacturers. Arctec, a major French surface specialist, applies sophisticated PVD coating procedures to improve the performance of molds and cutting tools.

Applying a coating is imperative to optimize the productivity and performance of micro-precision components and tools. Therefore Arctec, with headquarters located in Marnaz in the French Alps and ISO 9001-14001-13485 certification, places special attention to in-process quality management as part of its strategy.

Arctec validates and optimizes its proven coating techniques to produce roughly €2.5 million in revenues annually. A 2D profilometer was previously used by Arctec, making the surface specialist incapable of performing automated edge measurements. For this reason, the company searched for a new measuring system in order to accurately validate the quality of its coatings, and eventually discovered Alicona’s InfiniteFocusSL.

With Alicona, we own an all-in-one system to measure edge radii, angles as well as surface texture. The device is easy to use, flexible in handling and simple to automate. We were also impressed by the 3D visualization with true color information, which allows a fast initial evaluation of the measured geometries.

Eric Tiget, Arctec, CEO

Assurance of Edge Stability

The edge parameters of coated tools must satisfy the specifications set by the end user, the machined material, and the specific application. Arctec confirms the compliance of edge parameters such as angles, radii, and negative or supporting chamfers and edge symmetry, before and after the application of the coating using the combination of the InfiniteFocusSL and the EdgeMeasurementPackage.

Alicona’s 3D difference measurement allows Arctec to identify whether form deviations are within the limits of the specified tolerances. Arctec is able to perform this task in a completely automated manner, due to the automatic alignment of the 3D datasets of the uncoated and coated tools. This enables the form deviations to be measured automatically. Deviations can also be easily visualized with color coding, which enables the quality management process to be carried out more efficiently (Figures 1 and 2).

3D visualization of a milling cutter in pseudo color.

Figure 1. 3D visualization of a milling cutter in pseudo color. With Alicona, Arctec achieves robust surface measurement of also complex tool geometries.

3D measurement of a hob in true color visualization.

Figure 2. 3D measurement of a hob in true color visualization. Arctec verifies edge parameters such as radii, angles as well as edge symmetry and negative or supporting chamfers before and after coating.

We are working with coatings of a different color than the base material. The true color information allows us to identify areas with and without coating. In addition to 3D measurement, Alicona provides true color information of the surface. This enables us to quantify the quality of the coating on edges as well as after wear.

Eric Tiget, Arctec, CEO

Verification of Surface Quality

In addition to measuring sophisticated geometry, chipping, and wear along the edge (Ra, Rq, Rz), Arctec verifies the required surface quality of tools as well as the quality of coating methods using areal-based roughness measurement (Sa, Sq, Sz) (Figure 3). Alicona’s diverse measurement capabilities are highly helpful to Arctec to measure coatings on very complex surfaces: “The robust 3D surface measurement allows us to measure steep flanks with varying degrees of reflective properties,” says Eric Tiget.

Arctec uses areal-based roughness measurement (Sa, Sq, Sz) to ensure the required surface state of tools.

Figure 3. In addition to measuring cutting edge geometry, wear and chipping along the edge (Ra, Rq, Rz), Arctec also uses areal-based roughness measurement (Sa, Sq, Sz) to ensure the required surface state of tools.

Artec need to corroborate cutting-edge parameters as well as the overall surface state. Alicona’s areal-based roughness measurements help Artec to meet these requirements successfully. Artec calculates and tabulates all standard areal roughness parameters (Sa, Sq, Sz) such as volume parameters, spectral analysis, and bearing area curves. The InfiniteFocusSL’s ability to measure surface texture enables Artec to measure intricately shaped surfaces that are impossible to be measured using traditional measuring systems.

Alicona’s surface measurements are unaffected whether it comes to rise, drop, or sloped surface. Today, we are able to measure parameters that have not been accessible, yet alone measurable before. The system is extremely easy to use, and all measurements are in a high resolution, traceable as well as highly repeatable. All in all, Alicona has helped to stabilize our coating processes. Alicona enables us to advance the process of edge preparation for our customers. Understanding measurement sequences with traditional systems is a challenge to accomplish. Here, 3D measurement provides us with all the necessary information. In the end it also allows us to better control our processes.

Eric Tiget, Arctec, CEO

Using Alicona’s InfiniteFocusSL along with the EdgeMeasurementPackage, Artec performs the following measurements before and after the application of coatings:

  • Chipping along the cutting edge
  • 3D surface texture measurement (Sa, Sq, Sz) to corroborate surface state
  • 3D difference measurement for determining form deviations and wear
  • Angles, radii, negative or supporting chamfers, and edge symmetry

Conclusion

Eric Tiget confirms ”All in all, Alicona has helped to stabilize our coating processes.” “Our 2D profilometer was unable to measure cutting edges automatically, but with Alicona’s InfiniteFocusSL, we can fully automate edge preparation verification before and after coating. This ensures high surface quality and an accurate processing result.”

alicona

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Alicona Imaging GmbH.

For more information on this source, please visit Alicona Imaging GmbH.

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