The Achilles Heel of Cutting Tool Utopia

Machinist fill an interesting niche in technology. They play a fundamental role in the creation of hardware, yet they are also consumers of technology that have similar wants and needs as everyone else. Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt once said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” Which means that people are more interested with achieving a result as easily as possible, and that’s what drives the process. For machinists, this quote is an absurd oversimplification. What do people want a quarter-inch hole in? What is the tolerance? Where is the hole located? And so on. Without good specs, a bad outcome is almost guaranteed.

A job’s specs can’t be dumbed down to a “quarter-inch hole.” Even with a better input, achieving the results necessary for whatever hole is specified is a complicated enough process that 1) you need skilled machinists, and 2) there are varying levels of skills among machinists who can do some jobs better than others. Interestingly, we find that the same dynamics apply to our MachiningCloud app. In many ways, machinists want a quarter inch hole from us, and we do our best to provide a seamless solution that’s only made possible with:

  1. Data inputs
  2. Data standards
  3. Cloud software as a service (SaaS)

Like the specs for the hole, the first step of “data inputs” is the most important. What users see when they use the MachiningCloud app is really just the last step in the large process of digitizing analog cutting tool catalogs using future-proof, open industry standards that we helped create (GTC), and then keeping it up to date so that it can be easily leveraged by machinists who use the MachiningCloud app.

Leveraging Data
To improve the data inputs, MachiningCloud digitizes cutting tool vendors’ catalogs. When machinists use MachiningCloud and they don’t see their cutting tools available – which happens less and less every month due to our continued expansion of vendors – they get understandably annoyed. The thing is, we are on the machinists side, we want more vendors and as machinists ask their cutting tool vendors to adopt MachiningCloud, it helps everyone.

At this point, if a cutting tool vendor doesn’t have their catalog available, it’s not because they haven’t heard of us, it’s because they decided not to. They are withholding cutting tool data which means that machinists lose their choice in using an third party app that’s independent of the cutting tool vendor.

ISO Plus
The digitized cutting tool catalogs effectively solve the problem of sharing cutting tool data among different software applications which makes every part of the cutting tool process simpler and faster. ISO Plus is a term we coined to denote digital cutting tool catalogs that conform to open industry standards which include:

  • GTC,
  • DIN4000,
  • ISO 13399,
  • MT Connect,
  • STEP 3D,
  • DXF 2D

ISO 13399 is an international standard for the digital representation of cutting tool data. GTC (Generic Tool Catalog) is a complement to ISO 13399 for vendor neutral classification of cutting tools and data file structures. MachiningCloud utilizes an ISOPlus strategy, going beyond ISO 13399 and GTC to include valuable product and usage data such as the depth of cut and cutting speeds and feeds needed for CAD/CAM programming and CNC operations.

Once a cutting tool catalog is digitized to fit these industry standards, a software layer can make it all usable.

We tailor the MachiningCloud app to the extremely discerning, talented people on the shop floor. That means we need to take the complicated cutting tool process, one where data inputs from cutting tool vendors and users come together to achieve the seemingly easy results of:

  • Finding best tool for a job as fast as possible
  • Saving jobs, tools and assembles that can be shared
  • Creating tool assemblies that can be manipulated and exported into 3D models
  • And much more

To make adoption and use even easier, MachiningCloud is a SaaS that assures machinists always have the latest up-to-date information whenever you use the app. By combining cloud technology and cutting tool standards, MachiningCloud eliminates the need to rely on paper catalogs, telephone calls, face-to-face meetings and a myriad of websites. There’s no servers, multi-computer installations, and other IT related concerns. All account information is stored safely and securely in the cloud where it’s easy for team members to share and collaborate on jobs from their own accounts.

The “hole” that machinists want is the right tool for the job, quickly and easily, so they can seamlessly integrate their selection into the process of simulation or programming. The standards and software are solvable problems. We are refining our software based on user feedback and expanding features every week, but nothing can happen without the right cutting tool data. Achieving the results that machinists want will only be as good as the data inputs.

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