Composite materials, widely used in applications such as aircrafts, sports vehicles, marine units, construction vehicles and automobiles, are fast replacing traditional structural materials such as steel and aluminum. As a result, techniques and best practices in tooling and crafting have come under the spotlight even as tool makers strive to capitalize on this new industry trend. A case in point is AMAMCO Tool, which has striven to continuously refine its tooling and crafting methods in an effort to better serve application areas that require handling composite materials.
AMAMCO specializes in the production of customized tools for hard applications. AMAMCO's knowledge base in this area has been enriched by its involvement in the initial stages of the Boeing 787 program. Subsequently, Boeing alliance partners, namely Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Spirit Aerosystems, Vought and Alenia Aeronautica, began to utilize AMAMCO's rotary cutters and solid carbide tools for section fabrication ahead of final aircraft assembly. These tools are used for drilling holes in composite, composite/aluminum or composite/titanium stack ups.
Initially, the abrasiveness of composite material caused high tool failure while drilling rivet holes into the aircraft body. However, AMAMCO was able to overcome this challenge by designing special solid carbide tools that convinced even difficult technicians to adopt these tools in a drilling method superior to the conventional incremental hole drilling process, a method that could maintain hole quality while enhancing drilling efficiency.
AMAMCO states that producing these special tools to exacting tolerances can result in greater tool life compared to that of existing tool technologies such as polycrystalline diamond (PCD), thereby reducing the cost per hole. Special solid carbide tools are also more robust compared to PCD tools, have higher availability and are not restricted in point geometry design and the number of regrinds possible. Encouraged by these advantages, Boeing and its alliance partners have preferred the use of solid carbide cutting tools to other technologies.
According to Jon Salem, vice president of AMAMCO, the main goal of the company is the timely supply of the appropriate tools for any application.