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Robust and Easy to Use Quality Control of Roughness on Milled Tool Steel Surfaces

Robust and Easy to Use Quality Control of Roughness on Milled
Tool Steel Surfaces
J. Berglund1 * , B.-G. Rosén2


Research Technology Center, Die & Mould
Sandvik Tooling Sverige AB
Olofström, SE-29338, Sweden

Functional Surfaces Research Group
Halmstad University
Halmstad, SE-30118, Sweden

This study was an evaluation of measuring strategies using a handheld 2D profiler for quality control of finish
milled tool steel with regard to surface roughness. A selection of ball nose end mills in combination with two
different tool steels (hardness 39 and 47 HRC) were used to manufacture the surfaces that were to be measured.
It was found that using an appropriate measuring strategy it is possible to measure the roughness of these
relatively smooth surfaces (0.1<Ra<1µm) with satisfactory accuracy using a handheld profiler. However, it was
also found that, in contrast to what is common practice, Ra is not a suitable parameter to use for evaluation.
Instead, using Rz or Rp is suggested. To be able to control quality, the machining process (selection of cutting
tool, cutting data, workpiece material etc) as well as limits for the evaluated parameters first have to be

Many car models are introduced each year and to be able to produce each new model a new set of pressing dies
has to be designed and manufactured. This is a process which consumes a lot of resources, both time and money.
The manufacturing of pressing dies consists of several different stages of which milling and manual polishing
contribute largely to the time and cost. The amount of polishing that has to be done is greatly influenced by the
surface roughness after the finish milling stage [1]. Therefore, in manufacturing of pressing dies the surface
roughness after finish milling stage is an important quality parameter. To monitor the quality it is a necessity to be
able to make reliable measurements.
Surface roughness can be measured using many different techniques which all have their respective advantages
and disadvantages. The most common types of measuring instruments can be divided into two categories, contacting
and non-contacting instruments (typically stylus instruments and optical instruments respectively). In addition, there
is currently a shift of paradigms in characterisation techniques, from profile to areal characterisation (from 2D to
3D) [2].
Previous studies have shown that 3D measurements are more appropriate than 2D measurements for
characterisation of press die surfaces [1]. Also, efforts have been made to use data from 3D measurements to track
wear of cutting tools [3]. However, 3D measurement equipment is usually more expensive and not very suitable to
use in a workshop for quality control since they often are comparatively large and more difficult to handle. Instead,
a common method used on the tool and die shop floor to evaluate surface after milling is visual inspection by an
experienced machine operator and the use of a Ra-value from a surface profiler [1].
There are several handheld profilers available on the market today and these are commonly quite small, practical
and easy to use. However, there is a lack of studies regarding their accuracy and consistency when measuring
relatively smooth surfaces such as finish milled steel (0.1<Ra<1µm).

* Corresponding author: Tel.: (46) 454-37245; Fax: (46) 454-40180; E-mail:


1. 2. The same criteria as are used in the pressing die industry were used in this study. hardness 47 HRC. The roughness parameters selected for evaluation. n 10000 RPM. 2. ap 0. In this study a selection of different BNEs were used since the different geometries of the cutting tools create somewhat different textures on the workpiece [5]. The machine tool used in this study was a Hermle C40. after the first level was cut and after the last. MACHINE TOOL AND CUTTING TOOLS Two different tool steels from Uddeholm Tooling AB were used as workpiece materials.2 mm.2 mm. see Figure 1. Table 1: Evaluated roughness parameters 2D 3D Ra Average roughness Sa Average roughness Rz Mean roughness depth Sz Mean roughness depth Rp Mean peak height Spk Reduced summit height Feed direction Figure 1: Workpiece and measurement points 285 . Skövde. 5 axis machining centre with a Capto C5 spindle interface and a spindle capable of 24000 RPM.Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing. Measurements and images of the surface were made at two times for each tool. METHOD AND MATERIAL 2. In the die and mould industry finish milling is primarily done by using ball nose end mills (BNE) [4]. The materials were Nimax with a hardness of 39 HRC and Dievar. FAIM2008. MEASUREMENT INSTRUMENTS AND METHODS After each level was cut the machine operator made an optical inspection of the surface finish. Cutting data used for Nimax: Vc 385 m/min. All BNEs used in the study have a diameter of 16 mm.2 mm/tooth. The chosen tool path strategy was copy milling. fz 0. This inspection was done to decide whether to keep on using the same tool to cut another level or to change tools.2 mm. Holding tool was a Capto integrated hydromechanical chuck. Sweden The purpose of this study was to establish a practical. WORKPIECE MATERIAL. ae 0. ap 0. Cutting data used for Dievar: Vc 190 m/min. Measurements and images of the workpiece surface were made at three points. robust measuring strategy that is possible to use with a 2D profiler in a tool and die workshop and to study to what extent a handheld 2D profiler could give reliable results in this type of application.2. n 5000 RPM. according to ISO 4287:1997 [6].2 mm/tooth. are summarised in Table 1. fz 0. ae 0.2 mm.

First of all. as the tool was worn the surface texture became less homogenous.kulzer-technik. There was a detectable wear on the tool. 3D measurements were made using a white light interferometer. Strategy "5-2" was considered to be a good compromise between reliability and ease of use.Robust and Easy to Use Quality Control of Roughness on Milled Tool Steel Surfaces The 2D measurements were made using a MarSurf PS1 * .84 mm (x) * 286 .555 0.8 † Veeco Instruments. that has previously been shown to work well. The different strategies were: 3. www. was used [8]. These mean values were compared to the mean value for all 100 measurements.1 MEASURING STRATEGIES A large number (100) of 2D measurements were made at one time in measurement point A to evaluate the distribution of the measured values. as will be shown in more detail later. 10-4 and 10-6 (where "5" means: one set consists of five randomly picked values. A large number of sets using each strategy were collected and mean values and standard deviations were calculated for each new ‡ Provil novo light CD2. * Mahr GmbH.410 StDev/Mean 30% 22% 30% It was desired to develop a measuring strategy that gave reliable results and at the same time did not require a large number of measurements. Heraeus Kulzer GmbH. Secondly. Instead. There are several factors which could explain this. The instrument used was a Wyko RST Plus † at magnification 2. These measurements were made at approximately mid-life of one of the tools.6 mm and the data was filtered using a Digital Gaussian filter [7] with cut-off 0. Measurement length was 5. since the 2D profiler was handheld the operator probably was responsible for some measurement errors through accidental movement of the profiler during the measurement or by not being able to position the device perfectly (the measurements are supposed to be made perpendicular to the feed direction).512 2. For reference. For practical reasons the 3D measurements could not be made directly on the workpiece. Table 2: Summary of 100 2D measurements Ra (µm) Rz (µm) Rp (µm) Mean 0. The average deviations of the mean values and the average standard deviations for each strategy are shown in Figure 2. the surface finish was still considered to be good. 5. www. 7-4. 3.5x giving a measurement area of 1.48 mm (y). a handheld stylus type instrument with a 2µm diamond tip.384 StDev 0. 7-2.mahr. From the collection of 100 measurements different sets of values were randomly picked to simulate different measuring strategies.154 0. 10. As can bee seen in Table 2 the standard deviations were quite large for all parameters. Images of the machined surface were made using a microscope at 40x magnification with a digital camera. 7. www. and "5-2" means: one set consists of five randomly picked values with the highest and lowest values excluded). Mean values and standard deviations were calculated. 5-2.430 1.veeco. a replica technique ‡ . 10-2. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS 3. however.

(a): image from microscope.2 TOOL WEAR AND IMPACT ON SURFACE ROUGHNESS When comparing all measurements and images there was a consistent and obvious difference between the surfaces cut with a new tool and the ones cut with a worn tool. (b): 3D surface measurement 287 . An example of this can be seen below in Figure 3 and Figure 4 which show a surface (measurement point C) cut with the same tool.Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing. (a): image from microscope. (b): 3D surface measurement a b Figure 4: Example of a surface cut with a worn tool. a b Figure 3: Example of a surface cut with a new tool. Sweden 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% 3 5 5-2 7 Dev of Mean 12% 10% 10% 9% 7-2 7-4 10 9% 10% 7% 10-2 10-4 10-6 7% 7% 7% StDev/Mean 25% 24% 12% 25% 15% 9% 26% 17% 12% 8% Figure 2: Average deviations of the mean values and average standard deviations for the different measuring strategies 3. Skövde. Feed direction is horizontal in the figures. FAIM2008.

A summary of the average change in the 2D parameters can be seen in Figure 5. This was also the case in the 3D measurements made for reference with only a few exceptions in measurement point B. Average difference 200% 100% 0% Δ Ra Rz Rp 98% 125% 130% Figure 5: Average change in 2D surface parameters Although there was an increase of the average value of Ra. This pattern is very much in line with the ideas presented by Chen et al. for example the strategy "5-2" discussed previously. Using Rz or Rp is better than using Ra if surface finish appearance is to be assessed. First of all. Ra is the average deviation from the mean line of each and every point along the measured profile. The base of calculation for Rz. is only the very highest and lowest points. using a handheld profiler. as shown by Zeng et al. However. CONCLUSIONS • Using a single Ra value to determine if a surface is good or bad is very uncertain. on the other hand. workpiece material etc. if certain conditions are met. This indicates that the Ra parameter might not be a very good parameter to use for evaluation of surfaces. using artificial tool wear in [3]. in [9]. in regard to roughness. Rp is calculated from the measurement points which are considered to be the peaks of the profile [11]. Instead Rz or Rp is suggested to be used since an increase of those parameters showed a more consistent relation to the deterioration of surface finish appearance as the cutting tools were worn. In the surfaces cut with a worn tool there was still a discernable pattern. there are many factors in the machining process which can influence the surface roughness of which tool wear is one of them [10].Robust and Easy to Use Quality Control of Roughness on Milled Tool Steel Surfaces In the surfaces cut with new tools a recognisable texture could typically be seen. in some cases the Ra value did not change much at all during machining. limits for the evaluated parameters must first be established for each combination of cutting tools. as the one used in this study. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors wish to thank Sandvik Tooling Sverige AB. a set of several measurements has to be made to reduce the impact of measurement error and to get a more reliable result. The feed direction could be seen but in general it looked as if the material had not been cleanly cut. The result of this is that Rz and Rp are much more sensitive than Ra. An appropriate measuring strategy must be used. A probable explanation for this is that as the tool was worn the cutting edge became less sharp and rubbing between the cutting tool and workpiece took place. • It is possible to use a handheld 2D profiler to evaluate the quality of a finish milled steel surface. cutting data. though not at all as obvious. 288 . Secondly. 4. a surface judged as good by an experienced machine operator can have the same Ra value as a surface judged as bad. CAPE Research Centre and the Knowledge Foundation (KK-stiftelsen) for their financial support as well as the staff at RTC D&M in Olofström for their help and assistance. Furthermore. This was the pattern created when the material was cut. In all three measurement points there were generally a considerable increase in the evaluated 2D roughness parameters.

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