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California Tool target the aerospace industry with diamond coated cutting tools

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California Tool are reaping the benefits of technology with a robotic loader that uses ANCA software to incorporate different diameters and collet sizes, reducing the need for individual setups

California Tool has been making custom carbide cutting tools that are specifically designed for their customers’ needs for over 30 years. Cutting tools come in many different shapes and sizes, but you can also have the same tool with many different geometrical features, including hook, helix, and clearance angles – that is why California Tool has remained outside of the catalogue market, a strategy that has born them great success.

Jordan Armitage, Manufacturing Manager at California Tool said: “We make high performance cutting tools made to print, and we also offer regrinding services. The main market that we service is aerospace, we do tailor to automotive cutting tools and medical cutting tools.”

“We're not trying to compete with catalogue companies, we are trying to diversify and operate as a high end, high performance house that can grind anything that you can dream of. We also understand it is vital for our customers to have their request turned around quickly. A lot of companies will say they can do it, but they take 16 weeks to make it. We're looking to doing it in six days, it's a huge difference.”

“Our regrinding services, although small in scope and hyper focused, are a cost-effective way for the customer to extend the life of a tool. For some of our customers their tools have a lot of intricacy. There is tribal knowledge that is built in to these cutting tools, and it's taken a long time to develop what works for the customer. From our end we need to regrind the cutting tools to a high level of complexity to meet the demands of our customers intricate geometries. We have an in-house CAD system that enables us to generate prints. We can reverse engineer some of their prints, or we can make custom tailored tools to their process.”

“What I see personally as a fantastic opportunity in the industry are diamond coated cutting tools. A diamond coated tool will offer longevity, repeatability and predictability. That means customers will know exactly how long the cutting tool will last and they can predict their machine process based on that. With the materials being used to build aeroplanes today, the manufacturing process uses a significant amount of carbon fibre, and you need diamond coated tools to cut it.”

“There's a specific kind of grade of carbide required to make the diamond coated tools and we stock all that in-house to enable us to move quickly on our customer enquiries. We manufacture any cutting tool to specification and send it out for diamond coating.”

Technology gives a marketing edge

“I would say that California Tool are keen to invest in the latest and greatest technology and we have banked on ANCA to be able to bring the latest and greatest to our doorstep.”

“Our facilities are an important aspect of how we market ourselves as a lot of our customers want to come in and vet us, they want to see our production floor. I believe that this collaboration that we have between Zoller and ANCA is just a fantastic way to showcase how we make cutting tools.”


Getting diameters down to the millionths

“A lot of the cutting tools that are coming in nowadays are very complex. The Zoller Genius and the whole team at Zoller have really helped us as a business to be more repetitive and to be more competitive in the marketplace because we're able to give customers exactly what they're asking for, with diameters down to the millionths and with cutting geometries that are plus or minus one degree.”


Software to automate manufacturing

“The ANCA machines have everything that a grinding house needs and you can even get beyond that. There's just so much to the software that a lot of people don't even tap into. The RoboMate software for example, allows you to incorporate all different kinds of diameters and even collet sizes. It makes it easy for the guys to be able to set up jobs - we're constantly doing setup so to be able to scramble between all our different setups and still use a robot is pretty fantastic. I think that speaks volumes to the software that's involved.”


Jordan Armitage, Manufacturing Manager at California Tool  and  Thomson Mathew, Software Product Manager at ANCA


27 May 2019