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Stellram has developed a drilling tool design, which has boosted productivity and has reduced costs at Young Touchstone, a manufacturer of industrial heat exchangers.

Stellram Hardcore technology has transformed a machining operation at the company’s plant in Tennessee, US, by doubling the average number of holes achieved per drill and delivering a 59 per cent saving on tool costs.

Young Touchstone, part of Wabtec Corporation, turned to Stellram for help on its project, which involved drilling approximately 1,000 holes, 13mm x 16mm deep, in 1,018 CR steel plates used for a variety of cooling applications.

Patrick Cann, ATI Stellram’s solid carbide specialist, said: ‘The challenge was to identify areas for improvement that would help increase productivity and decrease tool costs.

‘Under the existing operation, the drill cost per hole was high and tool life varied greatly.

‘The Stellram product development team recommended the use of Hardcore technology drills as part of a series of changes designed to further improve the control of cutting conditions and tool life.

‘A feed and speed was established that not only gave the required production rate, but also longer tool life.

‘As the tool life was substantially increased, the average holes per drill increased from 15,000 to 30,000 and, as a consequence, the cost per hole was also reduced, achieving a saving of 59 per cent compared to the previous method,’ he added.

Chad Copeland, ATI Stellram’s sales engineer, said that the patented Hardcore technology combines two optimum grades of carbide in one tool, removing the problems usually associated with switching between tools with different carbide grades.

He said: ‘This new technology helps extend tool life, eliminate chipping and resolve durability or production speed issues.

‘While one of the carbide grades is designed to withstand the high speed of the tool’s outer diameter, the robust characteristics of the other grade easily handle the slow speed of the tool centre,’ added Copeland.

Hardcore drills are available in sizes ranging from 3mm to 16mm in diameter and capacities up to five times the diameter.

ATI Stellram develops and produces high-performance cutting tools for difficult-to-machine materials used in a wide variety of industries including aerospace, power generation, medical, oil and gas production as well as automotive.


Its extensive product range comprises inserts and toolholders suitable for applications in drilling, grooving, milling, threading and turning.In addition ATI Stellram develops new grades and specialist combinations of substrates and coatings. Renowned for solving hard machining challenges, ATI Stellram has also established a reputation for developing innovative solutions designed to deliver better productivity, lower costs and higher quality, especially for the new generation of materials like nickel-, cobalt- and titanium-based alloys. ATI Stellram is a business unit of ATI Engineered Products and part of the ATI Aerospace team, a group of global businesses that produce a wide range of specialty metals and cutting tool solutions.


It has manufacturing facilities in the UK, Switzerland and the United States, and 9 sales offices around the world. ATI Stellram’s tooling engineers and metallurgists work closely with other specialists within the group to develop smarter solutions for difficult-to-machine materials.


This seamless technology transfer between the ATI companies provides an extensive knowledge base, not only of specialty metals, but also cutting tool performance.

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