Why Diamond Tools for Composite Manufacturing?

Why Diamond Tools for Composite Manufacturing?

Manufacturing composites is a complex process that can be greatly improved through the use of diamond tools. Diamond tools offer many advantages over traditional metal cutting tools, including longer tool life, faster cutting speeds, and reduced scrap rates. Composite materials vary widely in their compositions. Some materials are soft and tacky while others are hard and abrasive.  Selecting the right type of diamond tool and the right grit will make processing difficult-to-cut materials a lot easier.

Over the years, we've manufactured a wide variety of standard and custom-made diamond tools specifically for niche applications in the composites industries ranging from aerospace, transportation, nautical, consumer-goods manufacturing, sporting equipment, military and defence wearables and clean energy. With that experience, we thought we would run through a Q-and-A on some of the most frequently asked questions about diamond tools and composites.

What are diamond tools? Diamond tools are cutting tools that use diamonds as the primary wear surface. This makes them extremely durable and capable of cutting through a wide range of composite materials such as fibreglass, resins, plastics, and Kevlar®.

Why are they used in composite manufacturing? The exceptional durability, performance and accuracy of diamond tools make them ideal for composites manufacturing.  The versatility of diamond electroplated or diamond vacuum brazed tooling makes them an ideal match for the variable consistencies of composite materials.

How do diamond tools work for composite materials?  Diamonds are the hardest natural material known to man, making diamonds an exceptional choice as a cutting surface. The fully exposed diamond grit in electroplating and vacuum brazing processes guarantees a direct and aggressive grinding mechanism.

What are the benefits of diamond tools for composites manufacturers? There are many benefits to using diamond tools in composites manufacturing, including:

  1. Longer tool life - Diamonds are extremely durable and can withstand high temperatures due to friction and abrasive forces that wear down other materials over time.

  2. Faster cutting speeds - With the correct grit selection based on the application, diamond tools can cut through composites faster than traditional metal cutting tools, resulting in reduced manufacturing times.

  3. Reduced scrap rates - The superior performance and accuracy of diamond tools leads to less scrap material and improved yields.  Diamond electroplated and vacuum brazed tooling maintain their shape and accuracy throughout the life of the tool.

  4. Ideal for machining difficult materials - Composites are notoriously difficult to cut and process because of their wide-ranging physical qualities. Resins can be tacky while fibreglass can be extremely abrasive and plastics can be brittle.  understanding the physical quality of the material is imperative when designing and developing the right tool for the job.

  5. Precision - Diamond tool maintains its shape. Tighter tolerances

What types of diamond tools are available on the market? There are many different diamond tool options for composites manufacturing.  While in some cases a standard diamond tool will suffice, most often our clients opt for a custom engineered diamond tooling solution for their unique application. 

  1. Diamond cutting blades -  Diamond cutting blades are perfect for cutting and machining composite materials.

  2. Diamond router bits - Diamond router bits are ideal for creating intricate profiles in composites materials.

  3. Diamond core bits or drill bits - Diamond electroplated or vacuum brazed core bits are the tool of choice for cutting holes or openings in composite materials.

  4. Custom diamond grinding wheels - Diamond grinding wheels are perfect for grinding composite materials into the desired shape and size.

  5. Diamond-coated rotary burrs - Rotary burrs create a rounded edge that is ideal for composites manufacturing with minimal chipping or tearing.

  6. Diamond-coated end mills - These are ideal for composites manufacturing applications with large cutting depths.

How do you choose the right diamond tool? The best way to choose the right diamond tool for your needs is to consider the specific application and materials you are working with. Factors to consider include:

  1. The type of material being cut - Composite materials vary widely in their composition and physical characteristics.  It is important to understand the materials' rigidity and abrasiveness when selecting a diamond tool.

  2. The geometry and size of the part - The shape and design of the diamond tool are dependant on the geometry and size of the part being cut or processed.  It's important to select a tool that is up to the task.

  3. The material removal rate - In order to achieve the highest  MRR (Material Removal Rate) possible, it is extremely important to select the correct grit and diamond application for the job.  Both electroplated and vacuum brazed diamond tools are recommended for composites, but they are not interchangeable.  It's important to understand the distinction between the two options to make an informed tooling decision.

What care and maintenance are required to keep diamond tools working at their best in a composites manufacturing environment?  Diamond tools require little maintenance, as diamond composites are resistant to the high temperatures and pressures involved in composites manufacturing. Diamond tools are not affected by composites manufacturing additives, which minimize the need for frequent cleaning.

Diamond tools offer many advantages over traditional metal cutting tools, including longer tool life, faster cutting speeds, and reduced scrap rates. It can be a complex process when selecting the right diamond tool for your composite manufacturing application. Many factors need to be considered.  If we were not able to answer some of your questions above, please feel free to contact our team about your specific composite application.