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Design and planning solutions

How to make cutting tool selection and CAM preparation more efficient

Multiple decisions and close attention to detail precede every efficient machining operation. Typical time-consuming tasks faced by computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programmers, production managers, and machine operators include:

  • Selecting the optimal cutting tool and cutting data to perform a specific machining operation—choosing from tens of thousands of tools from different suppliers.
  • Finding tool data that can accurately represent the tool in programming and simulation—alternatively creating a digital tool assembly from scratch based on information in different catalogs and on websites.
  • Generating efficient and secure CNC programs for advanced machining methods.

By using modern industry solutions, many process planning tasks that were heavily dependent on the skills and expertise of individuals can now be done faster with optimized results through automation.


Connected process planning solutions enable increased speed and better accuracy in cutting tool selection and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programming.

Algorithms selecting tools and cutting data

Cutting tool and cutting data selection is one of the processes that can make or break efficiency and productivity in machining. The foundation for selecting the best cutting tool for the job and what cutting data to use is information. Verified and well-managed cutting tool information defines not only essential physical parameters—such as height, weight, radius, etc., of the tools—but also its own capacity.

Paper catalogs are becoming scarcer in modern machine shops, where digital solutions make tool and cutting data recommendations perfectly adapted to suit specific machining tasks. A simple on-screen interface enables users to quickly define their machining application and instantly be presented the most productive tool to use.

The recommendation is generated by algorithms evaluating all information associated with all cutting tools from a supplier. Any additional input provided by the user further defines the machining task, such as what material will be machined and what machine tool will be used, etc. This refines the tool recommendation in real time.

A secondary yet useful entry point to cutting tool recommendation solutions is starting from the manufacturer’s specific tool on hand. A cutting tool supplier’s recommended starting values are created inside a “safe interval”, but are not optimized. The tool’s true capabilities and its optimal cutting data for a specific machining task are presented only when additional information about the task is fed into the cutting data recommendation solution.

Tool recommendation and cutting data recommendation solutions are made available either online or offline, on stationary and mobile devices. Through partnerships between different players in the industry, tool and cutting data recommendations from suppliers are becoming frequent features inside CAM, simulation, and verification software.

Cutting tool information enables recommendations for the most productive selection of tools and cutting data.

Generic Tool Classification (GTC) structure.

Seamless cutting tool data exchange between systems

The key to cross-company development—enabling increased value for manufacturers—is standardization. ISO 13399 is an international cutting tool information standard in which each cutting tool is defined by a number of parameters.

The standard provides cutting tool information in a neutral format that is independent of any particular system or company nomenclature. With tools that are clearly defined according to a standard that all compliant software can process, the quality of communication gets better and the electronic data exchange between systems runs smoothly.

The standard saves time and provides an extra guarantee of quality. A common language is valuable from a system-to-system point of view, which makes it easier for users. With an ISO 13399-compliant system, there is no need for manual interpretation of data.

Further advancement in the area of standardization in recent years includes Generic Tool Classification (GTC). In essence, GTC is a standard way to map and sort cutting tool information into structures, enabling seamless exchange of information between consuming systems.

An example application where ISO 13399 and GTC saves considerable time and increases process security is the preparation of cutting tool assemblies for use in CAM programming and simulation. A cutting tool assembly created in a tool library service supporting both standards can be saved then seamlessly imported into a supporting CAM (or similar) system.

The closer the connected processes and systems become, the more value created for the industry. This certainly applies to generating CNC code for advanced machining methods. Programmers save considerable time when developing productive machining strategies integrated into their CAM software

Tool path of the machining method for seal ring grooves.

Continue reading:


Standard tool data

ISO 13399 is the industry standard for tool data exchange.


The CoroPlus® portfolio contains several connected solutions made ready for Industry 4.0.

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CAM Workflow Integration

Partnership is crucial to create the greatest end-user value in digital manufacturing. CNC Software is one of the first CAM companies to integrate CoroPlus® in their Mastercam software. See the video.

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