Aerospace Manufacturing and Design (AM&D): What’s new from Sandvik Coromant for aerospace composites and lightweighting?
Helen Blomqvist, President of Sandvik Coromant: We have a good pipeline of new products coming for composites and lightweight materials with exciting news planned for 2022 and 2023. We have a strong focus on aerospace and more on lightweight materials in the future. We are looking to have products with a more complex PCD [polycrystalline diamond] geometries, for example. We are also upgrading a few of our solid round tool products.
AM&D: How does digital machining improve productivity and contribute to sustainability goals?
Blomqvist: We want to be closer to customers and as early as possible in the decision-making chain. The digital yarn is now where we have the manufacturing value chain. Our digital wallet, CoroPlus®, offers several solutions to support our customers in design and planning, starting with CAM programming, optimizing the tool path even before starting to machine. This is important from a sustainability perspective because the shorter the machining time and the more optimized the toolpath, the less energy you use and the less waste you will have.
Our recently acquired company, CGTech, offers software that we use in our own production facilities to ensure we have optimized code. Our CoroPlus® Tool guide gives recommendations on how to use and run the tool in the best possible way.
We also have CoroPlus® Machining overview where a customer does not need to be at the production site to know how the machine works. Is the green light on or not? Are there any problems in the machine? You receive this information from this software.
We also recently acquired ICAM, a post-processing company for CAM code. They will be part of CGTech, so VERICUT and the ICAM offerings will be combined into a solid product for our customers.
We want to develop our software and our methods as closely as possible to the tool, because that’s our core business, that’s where we excel. We sell the tool with a method, so the toolpath, CAM programming must be perfect. It’s all about sustainability.
AM&D: With the emergence of 3D printing and additive manufacturing for metal production parts, what are the opportunities for adapting cutting tools to these materials and processes?
Blomqvist: With the growth of 3D printing and additive manufacturing, we will have more near-net shapes to machine. Machining will still be there, but it will be more semi-finishing and finishing applications.
As part of the Sandvik Group, we focus on additives and powder manufacturing, so this is an integral part of Sandvik’s strategy and an area we work with in R&D. And we monitor the type of product components that are relevant to us. There are many exciting opportunities for us to machine these applications and components.
AM&D: Attracting young people to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and machining careers is hard enough, so what more can be done to attract more young women and a stronger workforce? diversified?
Blomqvist: We know that a diverse workforce performs much better, so we would like to have as much diversity as possible. I think we have been quite successful at Sandvik Coromant in recruiting young women and promoting women to leadership positions. [Currently, women make up 18% of Sandvik Coromant’s workforce and 30% of its next-generation managers.] I think we all need to be role models and show that this industry is for everyone. It’s really fun. I know that my daughters, for example, want to create and innovate, and they want to have fun at work. I think manufacturing is a perfect environment if you want to have fun. It’s something we need to share. I try to be a role model and talk to the students I meet on tours of our production facilities and virtual tours to introduce this environment and what someone, maybe an engineer, is doing at Sandvik Coromant today today.
And we have the Sandvik Coromant Academy, where we offer free training where you can learn about metal machining. We work actively with schools. In Sweden, we fund two schools and ensure that their students can come to us for training. In the USA [Mebane, North Carolina], we have an apprenticeship program. It’s also a way for us to attract talent and continue to attract women to the industry.
AM&D: What emerges as the biggest challenge in aerospace manufacturing and how is Sandvik Coromant responding to it?
Blomqvist: We have the big trends of sustainability, digitalization, but also the knowledge or skills gap that we need to fill. Rather than challenges, from the perspective of opportunity, we have truly grown as a company to promote our overall offering. It’s not just about products for turning, milling, drilling and tooling systems, but it’s also about advising on specific components, such as vanes, discs and blades , and to show that we have good solutions for these specific components. We can also offer support services, reviewing lean manufacturing, CAM programming, etc., as aerospace components are expensive to produce. It is also the total cost of the component that must be optimized. Here we have a role to play, to deliver the products, digital solutions, services and knowledge, and to package them all. I think it’s a great opportunity for us, and something we’re already doing as a company.
Helen Blomqvist, a Swedish national, has more than 18 years of experience at Sandvik Coromant and rose from R&D engineer in materials characterization to president. During her career, she held several leadership positions within R&D and Sales, leading the Northern Europe sales area. She has proven herself as a great leader and won the prestigious Sandvik Coromant Leader of the Year 2018 award. Helen’s drive is evidenced by her focus on building winning teams to achieve great results. She holds a doctorate. in structural chemistry from Stockholm University and holds several patents. His doctorate. The title of the thesis was “Magnesium ions stabilize transition metal hydrides in the solid state”.