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Cutting and drilling carbon composites provides some unique challenges, the carbon fibres themselves are highly abrasive to any tool being used meaning that the tools is life is greatly reduced.
The fibres need to be cut cleanly to avoid delamination, in addition to this the heat generated when cutting must be kept low so the resin is not damaged.
Gandtrack Ltd has developed a range of polycrystalline diamond tooling (PCD tooling) designed for the high abrasion demands of cutting carbon composites. PCD is a synthetic diamond produced by combining small diamond particles to metal using temperature and high pressure. Diamond is the hardest material known to man and PCD lasts much longer than other materials used for cutting carbon composites such as carbide. It offers a clean cut that does not pull on the fibres which can cause delamination, this can become a problem when the cutting tools become dull hence the importance of a long life cycle. Polycrystalline has a high thermal conductivity which lowers the temperature when cutting meaning that higher cutting speeds can be used.
As mentioned, an alternative to PCD tooling for cutting carbon fibre, composites, fibreglass, aluminium and reinforced plastics is solid carbide. This material is much less expensive than PCD yet has a much shorter life span, one advantage is that most solid carbide tools can be reground which along with the manufacture of carbide tools is another service that Gandtrack offers. Both tool materials have their merits and both are economically viable for different applications.
Gandtrack have become a market leader in the design and manufacture of specialist cuttings tools for the aerospace industry working with customers such as Aircelle, Spirit Aero Systems and BAE Systems. They have also built up experience working with clients in other industries, including; motor racing, maritime and specialist engineering. Working with these customers they have developed very high standards and a deep level of knowledge working with carbon composites, their culture is one of continuous development and improving their level of service.
Director, Graham Hirst says: “With the continuous commitment to its customers Gandtrack have invested heavily in new C.N.C machines for its growing capacity to produce quality PCD Tooling. In addition to an added capability to re-lap existing cutters giving added tool life for its customers.”