The trend in the construction of motor vehicle engines has held constant for years. "Downsizing" is surely the word: the engine capacity may be getting smaller, but more power is being delivered – and fuel consumption is falling at the same time. This is, of course, only possible through the help of turbocharger and direct injection technologies. Machining turbocharger casings efficiently - and with high precision - is therefore not in any sense a peripheral topic for car makers. On the contrary, it is becoming more and more a matter of interest to engine designers. In turn this has a marked effect on the requirements for precision hole drilling. The developers at LMT BELIN have a proven technology to apply in this case: single-blade reamers, specifically developed for individual customers and, in particular, the associated indexable inserts. These allow existing processes to be optimized further with the aid of special tools.
When reaming is used to improve the surface quality and dimensional accuracy of holes, there may be no more than a few thousandths of a millimeter at stake. Hardly any other tools typify the precision machining of metal parts so clearly. It scarcely needs to be explained in this context that the application of a new tool of this type is, literally, a highly sensitive question for any production planner. Florent Mathieu, application engineer and automotive specialist at LMT BELIN, confirms this: "This is one of the crucial factors for the total quality of a component. And on top of this, turbochargers in particular are of great importance to the efficiency and performance of a modern engine".
Step-by-step to the special tool
A well-known automobile supplier company in Slovenia will be using a single-blade reamer from LMT BELIN for the precision machining of a turbocharger casing. After LMT BELIN had made its first tender in March of 2009, in which both the qualitative targets as well as the piece costs were defined, the first trials using a single-blade reamer, which the French LMT experts had already developed particularly for this customer's production conditions, began in April. "But there were many more other trials throughout the year, where not only were changes made to the machining parameters, but which were always preceded by modifications to the tool geometry or to the cutting material. In September the customer then tested the reamer under series production conditions for the first time", added Mathieu.
Better tool lives, less waste
Further investigations confirmed the first impression: the single-blade reamer, which has a diameter of 13.88 mm, does more than just guarantee the extremely precise machining quality that is required when working in stainless steel (GG 20). At the same time, the tool life has improved by more than 15 percent. "It is, what is more, certain that the tool's fault quota has improved significantly when set against the model used in the past, although we can't give any quantitative results for this," stressed Mathieu.
Successful new strategy
This project is also a good example of the strong orientation towards export at LMT BELIN in 2009. It has been possible to gain customers in, for instance, Italy, eastern Europe and in Turkey. Florent Mathieu has an explanation for achieving this unusual success in a year that has been difficult for the automobile industry: "Since the beginning of last year we have significantly extended our activity and our internal capacity in the particular sector of single-blade reamers. We are very much in tune with the LMT philosophy of being a supplier to multiple niche markets, and we want to put more into the development of these accurately fitting special solutions in the future - in addition, of course, to the continuing standard range." In 2009 LMT BELIN maintained its strategy, expanded its technically qualified marketing team further, and at the same time increasingly turned its attention to international projects. "We can see that we have significantly strengthened both the confidence of our customers and our position relative to our competitors."