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Re-tipping or Re-sharpening Carbide Tipped Milling Cutters – A Cost Effective Option to Buying New Tools
Cutting Tools are not exactly cheap. One of the best ways to get extended life out of your milling cutters is to have them re-tipped or re-sharpened. This can usually be done at a fraction of the cost of the original cutter and is much quicker than making a new cutter from scratch. It can bring the cutter back to its original or acceptable specs. We re-tip and re-sharpen a lot of cutters including the cutters we use in our shop to make the tools we sell.

Re-sharpening is exactly what the name implies. Re-sharpening the cutting edges to remove imperfections generated during the cutters normal use. Care must be taken to minimize the amount of stock removal so not to undersize the cutter beyond an acceptable range and to allow for a greater number of future re-sharpenings. Depending on the condition of the cutters re-sharpening may include sharpening the OD, sharpening the width, or face lapping.

Re-tipping involves taking the old pieces of carbide off, brazing on new pieces of carbide, and re-sharpening. This typically brings the cutter back to its original specs.

Re-sharpening is slightly cheaper than re-tipping as there is less work involved and no carbide costs.
In order to be re-tipped or re-sharpened the existing cutters need to be in good shape. The steel backing behind the teeth has to be in-tact. The tools cannot be bent. The hub on arbor hole style tools shouldn’t be too beat up (although this can sometimes be fixed by regrinding the hub). The arbor hole should not be damaged excessively.

As long as the operator is conscious of the fact that the cutters are going to be re-tipped or re-sharpened keeping the tools in decent shape is not a problem. It is important to have enough existing cutters on-hand so the tools can be switched out before being run beyond the point of repair. Too often we receive tools that are beyond the point of repair. But, we also have several customers on a re-tipping program that are very good about keeping their cutters in a repairable condition and regularly send them back to us for this service.

One advantage to using carbide tipped cutters over solid carbide or high speed steel cutters is the fact that they can be re-tipped. Once solid carbide or HSS cutters have worn down beyond an acceptable range, that is the end of their life. Carbide tipped cutters can be re-tipped as many as 3 or 4 times greatly extending the tool life beyond that of solid carbide or HSS cutters.

Super Tool can typically turn around re-tipped or re-sharpened cutters in 1-2 weeks which is much shorter than making them from scratch. We can re-tip or re-sharpen special cutters and we can re-tip or re-sharpen standard cutters.

Re-tipping does have its limitations. In order to remove the carbide tips the teeth have to be heated up. To put on new carbide the teeth are heated again. This constant heating of the steel eventually changes the molecular structure of the steel making it weaker. This is liable to happen after 4 or more re-tips which is why we limit the number of re-tips to 3 or 4.

We can re-tip just about any of our milling cutters listed here on our Milling Cutters blog:

http://blog.supertoolinc.com/2013/05/21/milling-cutters/

Leave us a comment here or call (941-751-9677), fax (941-756-6480) or contact us through our web site for more information on re-tipping or re-sharpening your cutters.
Bryan Enander
President
Super Tool, Inc.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this great article, I really enjoyed the insign you bring to the topic, awesome stuff!

  2. Scott Adams says:

    It’s interesting that you talked about how you can simply re-tip a tipped carbide insert, instead of throwing them out at the end. I have been looking for new inserts, and I haven’t tried tipped yet. I can see how it would be nice to try tipped, so I can end up saving money over a long time.