At Matherne Instrumentation in Houma, La., Gilbert Boquet keeps his eyes open for opportunities to shave time and tool costs, especially for the parts his shop produces in 718 Inconel. However, one time- and cost-saving idea that he returns to frequently is the IMCO M706 Series Omega end mills that handle 400% more parts per tool in Inconel.
In the center of the Gulf Coast oil-and-gas market, Matherne makes precision-calibrated instruments used in exploration and drilling. It’s highly demanding work, so the instruments have to be tough to do the job, and the cutting tools used to make them have to be even tougher. That’s why Inconel (an austenite Ni-Cr family of alloys) is critical, even though it’s costly, and the milling tools are so valuable.
In tests conducted in June 2011, Boquet found that using IMCO’s M706 Series Omega end mills, and a more productive toolpath, cut Matherne’s tool use per part from 5 to 1. Neal Wilson, who represents IMCO in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, and Junior Racca of C.W. Rod, a DXP Company, provided technical support.
IMCO Carbide Tool’s Omega series end mills are recommended for high-speed milling hard, difficult-to-machine materials, including hardened tool steels, heat-treated steels, titanium, Monel, Waspalloy, and others, including Inconel.
“I recommended changing the toolpath,” Wilson recalled, “and calculated the radial chip thinning rates. The end result was that he roughed out the whole part with one M706 Series Omega end mill, while he had been using five the old way. He was a very happy customer.”
When the shop’s next Inconel project came along later that year, Boquet called Wilson and Racca to match M706 Series Omega end mills against competing tools, this time cutting a complex part (multiple windows and 0.25-in. lugs) out of an 8.5-in. diameter Inconel workpiece. The M706 Series Omega end mill tool won that competition, too.
“We use the Omegas on all of them right now,” Boquet says. “We get better tool life. And we don’t have to replace tools as often, so we save time. It’s the best tool we’ve found so far.”