A forming tool is a type of cutting tool used for making specific parts. Each forming tool has bits that are custom-made for the creation of a specific part. These bits are usually made of high-grade steel, tungsten carbide or an alloy of cobalt. A forming tool presses into an object and cuts away any unwanted material. This leaves behind a complex item that requires only a single cut to produce, drastically reducing its production cost compared to other methods.
The terminology for a forming tool can be confusing. Both the machine and the bits it employs are referred to as a forming tool. In either case, a forming tool is used to create custom, generally metallic parts. The forming machine does this through a special bit that gouges unwanted material away from a raw block, similar to how a chisel cuts away wood.
The tool bits used by a forming tool are custom-made for a specific purpose. For instance, a bit may make one part of an engine for a specific make, model and year of a car. Once that part changes, perhaps because the manufacturer updated the engine, that particular bit is no longer used. Since the parts required may change so rapidly as a result of the wear placed on the bits during use, tool bits are easily altered.
The bits in a forming tool have very high tolerances and specifications. In general, when a material attempts to cut a material of the same hardness, both objects are damaged or destroyed. As a result, in order to cut away material on a steel block, the forming bit needs to be harder than steel.
The majority of forming bits are made of a combination of steel, metallic cobalt and tungsten carbide. Simple steel bits are uncommon because of their relatively low hardness. Tungsten carbide is a common material because of its high hardness and melting point, but it is very brittle and prone to chipping. To improve the strength of either metal, metallic cobalt is infused into them. This process increases the hardness of the steel and the durability of the carbide.
Most forming tool bits are relatively small. The small size allows the forming machine to put a greater amount of pressure on the bit while still keeping the pressure even. It also reduces the amount of vibration while cutting. Lower vibration is important because it reduces wear on the bit, increases the accuracy of the cut and improves the speed of the cutting process.