In the late 1950's, We embarked on its challenge to develop new products that utilize the properties of ceramics besides plugs.
One of the results of this development was ceramic tools that make full use of the wear resistant properties of ceramics to cut parts. From then on, as part of our cutting tool business, we applied ourselves on an ongoing basis to the task of developing not just ceramics but also new tool materials and extending their applications. For example, we developed micro grain carbides and new materials that would fall under completely new categories.
In 1958, we brought the results of our continued R&D efforts - "ceramic bits" - to the market.
Ceramic bits are a fired body made of fine corundum crystals. Compared with carbide, they feature higher cuttability and considerably superior tool life, ensure an outstanding finished surface, and are capable of cutting even materials having high hardness.
At our research department, we made several prototypes and conducted repeated cutting tests. This resulted in our perfecting a high-purity alumina tool comparable to the ceramic tools made ahead of others in industry by the former Soviet Union.
Ceramic tools continued to evolve since then. We have responded to the demands of the age and have put onto the market, for example, CVD-coated tools that have high deflective strength and excellent hardness and chemical stability.
In 1961, we developed "cermet bits" made of an intermediate material between ceramics and carbide and that have excellent wear resistance. These bits were welcomed by the market as an epoch-making new product that would help reduce costs and improve production efficiency.
Cermet tools were developed to improve the brittleness of ceramics, and tools made by baking titanium carbide, nickel, molybdenum, etc. together formed the basic cermet tools. The finished surface and dimensional accuracy of machined workpieces were improved since these tools had low affinity with iron and a built-up edge (weld deposit) was less likely to form.
Because of these outstanding properties, cermet tools have been in use for more than 50 years as indispensable tools in applications such as grooving and the machining of bearings and small parts.
In 1988, we put on sale the "SS Tools" cutting tool for use on compact lathes and automatic lathes for machining small parts.
"SS Tools" were sold in series with varying tool edges and tool geometries, and contributed to many fields of industry including automobiles, watches, cameras, consumer electrical appliances, and automated office equipment.
With this lineup of tools, top priority was given to sharpness and so they were designed with a sharp tooth profile. They also featured excellent chip removal performance and made effective use of the properties of cermet tools which left a clean finished surface.
At around 2000, "SS tools" struggled in the market due, for example, to the recession in the American aircraft and iron and steel industries. Nevertheless, from this period onwards, they continued to be used for domestic personal computers and automated office equipment, which considerably increased their share of the market.
In the market place, they are highly rated for their abundant product line-up.
Micro-grain Carbide Insert
Hard base metal tools with a CVD* coating are generally used in machining processes which require tough tools such as the milling and turning of steel and the grooving of shafts. We undertook R&D because entry into the carbide tool field was unavoidable for further expanding our cutting tool business. This resulted in the development of our own micro-grain carbide inserts, and we succeeded in adding these inserts to our product lineup in 1989. PVD* that uses a physical process to perform vapor deposition was used to solve issues that could not be resolved by CVD*. These element technologies were combined and incorporated in this new product in 1993. It was accepted as a solution for the various issues met on manufacturing lines in the automobile industry, and it was even called the "ultimate tool" since it contributed considerably to the unmanned operation of manufacturing lines.
BIDEMICS is a new genre of tool for cutting aircraft parts and others.
A number of factors have led to extremely high demand for this kind of tool in the aircraft industry. Physical distribution and interaction between people are becoming conducted more actively as a result of economic growth in the markets of newly emerging economies, and the relaxation of aircraft regulations worldwide have led to the appearance of low cost carriers.
NGK SPARK PLUG has been engaged in the cutting tool business since the late 1950's, and our cutting tool products have come to be used in the aircraft industry, too. NGK SPARK PLUG has always been committed to developing new materials and tools. Above all, we have devoted efforts to R&D with the intention of creating epoch-making new materials capable of contributing to the aviation field. R&D paid off in sales of an unprecedented new material "BIDEMICS" which we started selling in Japan in 2015.
Aircraft parts are extremely expensive, and parts are not allowed to be affected by tool wear. BIDEMICS is a new material that features both strength and hardness and improves production efficiency. BIDEMICS tools have been received very favorably on the market since they demonstrate performance more than twice that of conventional tools.