Cut the Corrosion with Stainless Tool Holders

by | Mar 15, 2023

Share this post:

Recent research and resulting innovations in the production of stainless steel tooling are enabling shops to meet the extreme cleanliness requirements of certain manufacturing sectors, especially those in the aerospace and medical industries.  In those situations when post-machining part cleaning is not an option, nickel-plated holders and/or those made from stainless steel are excellent alternatives to significantly reduce the chances of part contamination.  

Stainless steel and nickel-plated tool holders are especially suitable for demanding applications such as the machining of medical-grade plastics. For one medical manufacturer, cleaning parts after machining was not possible due to the threat of part contamination. In order to maintain its rigorous production standards, the shop used dielectric water chilled to just above freezing as a coolant during the machining process. Unfortunately, the water corroded standard tooling. With stainless steel tool holders from REGO-FIX, however, the shop was able to utilize its dielectric water cooling solution to curb contamination while eliminating the corrosion on its tool holders.

An aerospace manufacturer had a similar experience when using a water-based coolant. Its standard tool-steel holders corroded quickly when used in a wet environment where the coolant fluid’s PH level was high. To make matters worse, the manufacturer used municipal water in its coolant, and the overall result was unacceptable tooling component corrosion. Incorporating REGO-FIX nickel-plated tool holders into the manufacturing process quickly eliminated the manufacturer’s corrosion problem.  

To eliminate the chances of any trace of oxidation contaminating a finished part for these challenging applications, REGO-FIX machined both its tool holders and collets from stainless steel. The company originally performed prototype research on stainless steel powRgrip PG 25 (40 mm-diameter) tool holders and collets, but expanded its testing to include PG 6 (10 mm-diameter) tooling. 

Because there was no previous life cycle or material testing of stainless tooling in the smaller size, the REGO-FIX engineering staff first reviewed what they learned making the larger tooling prototypes. A full engineering program was initiated to produce the smaller size tooling and evaluate its performance, and the team confirmed it would be fully effective in the new smaller size.  

Downsizing the tooling was not the only challenge. REGO-FIX had to adjust its manufacturing operations because stainless steel, as compared to typical tool steel, is a gummy material that tends to work harden when machined and has poor chipbreaking properties. Because of this, the company had to make sure cutting tools used were sharp and mounted in a stable machine tool to ensure they cut cleanly as opposed to rubbing the workpiece surface.  

Like its standard tool-steel cousin, the REGO-FIX powRgrip stainless steel tool clamping system provides high levels of machining precision and consistency. Total system runout is ≤ 3µm at 3xD even after 20,000 tool changes. The system also provides maximum clamping force and excellent vibration damping with tool changeouts in less than 10 seconds, minus any fumes or heat.

Though the majority of stainless-steel tool holder applications are currently found in the medical manufacturing sector, aerospace production and other shops are quickly realizing the corrosion-resistant benefits of stainless steel tooling. REGO-FIX stainless steel tooling is an available option for virtually the entire powRgrip series; however it may not be a cost-effective choice for every shop considering the added cost of stainless steel and the fact that stainless steel tooling is manufactured as a special project. However, powRgrip system components, whether standard tool or stainless steel, are fully interchangeable because their identical dimensions.