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Machine Tool Reconditioning & Saving Money

Grainger Editorial Staff

Before buying new machine tools, consider how tool regrinding and reconditioning can bring your existing investments back to life.

The cutting tools, end mills, carbide drills and other machine tools used in industrial metalworking and milling applications aren’t cheap. These tools take a beating in the workplace and usually wear down over time, but there are often options beyond purchasing new replacements.

Tool reconditioning is gaining in popularity as companies try to balance cost savings with high worker productivity and project completion rates. Processes like machine tool reconditioning, tool regrinding, and end mill regrinding are all viable options for both large and medium-sized facilities to consider.

Giving metalworking tools a new lease on life provides a variety of benefits for the companies that invest in these products. Extending tool life with reconditioning can help justify the initial cost of high-performance cutting tools, which can provide increased efficiency and productivity but can also quickly drain a tooling budget. “Cost-justifying these tools often requires regrinding and reconditioning them when they are worn or damaged,” Cutting Tool Engineering confirms.

Rejuvenating Worn Tools Pays Off

Machine tools play a crucial role in the manufacturing of metal components, with computerized numerical control (CNC) machines most often used to machine metal components — a process that requires high precision and the ability to produce complex shapes of varied dimensions. In its most recent Carbide Tools Market Challenges and Opportunities Report, Research Markets highlights the re-sharpening of carbide cutting tools as a prime concern for companies, adding that re-sharpening tool facilities are “comparable to new tool production for both in-house and outsourced operations.”

The research firm notes that reconditioning carbide tools helps companies reduce inventory cost and avoid material waste. By restoring a machine tool instead of purchasing a new one, companies can avoid the potential breakdowns and increased maintenance costs that come with running old, worn-down products. In return, they get an almost-new product that’s been restored to its original performance levels — a particularly important “win” for high-volume, high-speed milling operations.

"Carbide drills are the most commonly re-sharpened tools," Seco’s Robert Goulding tells Manufacturing Engineering. "They are the easiest to do. When the drill gets dull, you can re-dress the front end, or if it is chipped and has heavier damage, it can be repaired by cutting off the worn front tip of the drill and then regrinding it.”

Extending Tool Life

For metalworkers, the tool reconditioning process not only helps extend the life of the tool itself, but it also helps companies save money in today’s cost-conscious manufacturing environment. By working with a metalworking specialist, companies can leverage the innovative processes that regrind a wide variety of tools to manufacturer tolerances.

In most cases, companies simply send in their dull, dirty drills and cutting tools, and then receive them back ready to perform like new. As part of the process, the tools are sorted, cleaned, prepared, and reconditioned according to facility specifications using CNC equipment.

This process includes replacement, retrofitting, re-erection, re-commissioning, and recalibration, with the most common reconditioning and regrinding options including: 

  • Reconditioning of drills, reamers, end mills, taps and most other types of high speed, cobalt and carbide rotary cutting tools.
  • CNC regrinding and manufacturing of end mills and high-performance tools.
  • Manufacturing of special tooling for the aerospace industry featuring threaded shank and quick-change adapter products.
  • Simple modification of tools (e.g., adding a radius, step, or tang).
  • Major modification of tools (changing diameter and/or other critical geometries)

A Simple, Sustainable and Smart Solution

In a world where reconditioning, repairing, and recycling contribute to overall environmental sustainability and help companies across all industries reduce their environmental impacts, giving metalworking tools a second (or third or fourth) chance at life is just good business.

If your machine shop, manufacturing firm, or metalworking company is in the market for new tools, consider regrinding and/or reconditioning your current inventory of tools before making an investment in new ones. Evaluate whether that carbide drill or cutting tool can be reground or re-sharpened, for example, and know that reconditioning the old one provides almost original performance and is extremely cost-effective.

Using innovative CNC equipment — both commercially purchased and designed and built in-house — an experienced Grainger metalworking expert can regrind a wide variety of tools to exacting tolerances.

Learn more about Grainger’s tool reconditioning services here.

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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