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Tool Coatings – Stronger Tools and Smoother Finishes

Coatings can be a bit overwhelming. Here are some things to consider when choosing whether or not to have your tools coated and which type of coatings to choose.

The Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) Process
When coating tools, Super Tool uses the Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) process because it allows for more aggressive machining while maintaining the strength and hardness of the steel bodies. The PVD process is a vacuum process that shoots charged particles at the tool causing an atomic reaction. A beam of electrons is shot at the tool

causing them to bond with atoms on the surface. This creates a hardened coat around the coated area of the tool giving it great strength and durability. PVD coating can also create smoother and sharper cutting edges, which helps to reduce edge build up and can improve the finish cut of the tool.

The Four Main Coating Types
There are many coatings to choose from. We offer the four main types: Titanium Nitride (TiN), Titanium Carbonitride (TiCN), Zirconium Nitride (ZrN), and Aluminum Titanium Nitride AlTiN.  The following chart can help you determine which coating to use for the operation your tool is performing.

WET (Coolant)WET (Coolant)WET
Non-Ferrous (Soft)ZrNTiCN/ZrNZrNZrNZrNZrN
Non-Ferrous (Hard)ZrNTiCN/ZrNZrNZrNZrNZrN
Low Carbon SteelsAlTiNAlTiNAlTiNAlTiNAlTiNAlTiN
Medium Strength SteelsAlTiNAlTiNAlTiNAlTiNAlTiNAlTiN
High Strength SteelsAlTiNAlTiNAlTiNAlTiNAlTiNAlTiN
High Temperature AlloysAlTiNAlTiNAlTiN*AlTiN*

Why Coat Tools
Coating tools can improve the tools productivity in the following ways:

  1. Thermal Insulation – the build up of heat as the tool is cutting is one of the main reasons tools can break down. Coatings create an insulation barrier to help reduce the amount of heat that is generated during operation by pushing the heat back to the chip. Insulation can also allow the user to increase the feeds and speeds at which the tool is run.
  2. Mechanical Strength – Under normal operation, the roughness of the tools cutting edge and the abrasion from the chips cause the cutting edge to dull. With coating, friction is reduced and hardness of the tool is increased which causes the chips to flow easier and reduces tool wear.
  3. Chemical Resistance – Tools experience all sorts of chemically reactive forces during operations (i.e. heat, coolant, and the material of the workpiece itself). Coatings help to prevent the degradation of the tool (loss of tool life) by helping to repel these forces and improve cutting quality.

These are just a few reasons to consider coating your tools. Remember, having a coating put on your tools will increase the price and may lengthen the delivery time if it is not a stocked item, however, the extended life of the tools and better finish of the tools can be worth the wait.

Chadd Brown
Super Tool, Inc.