Cutting tools are so much more than just functional devices – as much the result of design inspiration as they are of production requirements or machining technique. That accounts for the enthusiasm that tool designers bring to their work. Arch Cutting Tools supplies standard and custom tools to manufacturers in the aerospace, defense, power generation, transportation, and automotive sectors, and develops custom tools for customers of its affiliate, Arch Medical Solutions.
“The breadth of our custom capabilities is second to none in the industry,” company president Jeff Cederstrom claimed.
Those design instincts have drawn the Arch Cutting Tools’ creators to compete in the annual ‘Tool of the Year’ competition staged by ANCA CNC, the grinding machine builder and grinding software developer. Cederstrom called the competition “… the Olympics of cutting tool design, involving teams from around the world. The friendly competition raises the bar for the industry.”
ANCA CNC grinders are used to manufacture precision cutting tools and components for customers in various industries, including cutting tool manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, electronics, and medical.
Arch developed the winning entry in the 2020 competition, and took runner-up credit in 2022 and 2023. The contest officials judged the Arch designs to be exceptional products based on multiple ANCA Toolroom iGrind software operations, with several complex profiles – a feature which has been imitated by others: A Turkish business, Turcar won the 2021 award with a similar concept, a multi-functional tool with axial and radial cutting features for machining five independent operations in one cycle.
And the 2022 award went to SJ Tools, Mexican business that created a cutting tool combining multiple features with a very accurate surface finish.
Arch Cutting Tools’ near-winner in the 2022 contest – called “The Fiver” – was conceived by Charles Montgomery, a programmer for Arch in Mentor, Ohio. His concept was to combine multiple tool functions into a single design, to demonstrate what the shop can do – and what its ANCA tool grinder can produce.
Once it had been selected as Arch’s 2022 contest entry, Montgomery’s design was sent to Arch Cutting Tools in Latrobe, Penn., where regional director of operations Jim Gray developed a production program, made a ToolDraft print of it, and manufactured the tool on an ANCA MX7 grinder.
“We enter the contest because it gives us the opportunity to be creative and push ANCA machines outside their everyday use,” according to Montgomery. “Being part of ANCA Tool of the Year [contest] annually helps us to continue to improve and showcase our capabilities.”
Montgomery recalled that the award-winning 2020 tool brought a positive attitude to the workplace and demonstrated that there is more to tool grinding than making tools for customers. And Gray added that contest have helped Arch Cutting Tools gain notoriety for its design and production capabilities.
He detailed that the latest tool design starts as a three-flute right-hand helix endmill with chip breakers, to help stop the tool from creating long chips.
Next, it becomes a three-flute form radius cutter for form milling, and then it transitions into a threadmill. Programmers and machinists can use the tool to create internal and external threads of different sizes. A concave spin grind was added to create relief for chip flow and ejections.
Lastly, the back portion of the tool changes to a left-hand-helix-right-hand-cut reamer to change the forces down into the part, to keep it stable in the fixture. This tool is known as “The Fiver” due to its multiple functions, Gray said.
The Fiver was designed and programmed using the ANCA iGrind software. To produce it, Arch used an ANCA MX7 with special wheel packs to grind the tool for their submission.
“It can be a very complex process to design a tool with multiple functions,” Montgomery said, describing the complexities in design and production. “You need to use the full capabilities of the software and hardware available, making sure you have all the correct wheels and clearances to avoid any machining issues.”
“Arch Cutting Tools is a solution-driven specialty tool company that provides solutions like this tool that cut down on the end-users cost in tooling, and cutting cost in production,” Gray concluded.