An Industry Solution for Difficult-to-Machine Materials

Mike Harris, District Manager


In manufacturing, components that contribute to success often include quality, precision and fast production at minimum cost. This equation sounds simple, but can be difficult to achieve for some machine shops. In the medical industry, manufacturers often handle difficult-to-machine materials such as titanium and stainless steel. Tooling costs could skyrocket if the appropriate tool isn’t selected for 
the application.

Recently, I received a call from a national distributor that has an integrated supply contract with a large OEM medical account 
in Warsaw, Indiana. This customer is one of the world’s leading designers, manufacturers and suppliers of orthopedic implants. They offer devices and solutions for fixation and fusion, motion preservation, minimally
 invasive spinal 
surgery and
 biologics.

In producing the parts for one of these implants, the customer needed a better tapping solution than what they were currently using. They were specifically tapping 6-32 threads in Ti-6Al4V but were running through taps like water, getting between 20 to 50 holes per tap and using over 75 taps per month. Despite trying and testing a variety of different brands, none were successful in significantly lowering the number of holes per tap.

I sat down with them and reevaluated the process, hole size, hole quality, cutting speeds, depth of drill vs. depth of thread, tool holders, work piece holding and coolant. Everything looked good, so I knew the tap had to be the key to solving this issue and I knew just what product to recommend.

I suggested they try the EXOTAP® VC-10
 TI Taps from OSG. These ultra-premium taps are made from a VC-10 Powered Metal High Speed Steel substrate, which offers longer tool life in Titanium and other hard materials. Plus the OSG V-coating provides increased hardness, lubricity and wear resistance, further prolonging tool life. I sent the customer a few sample taps and they said they would get them tested right away.


The following week I got in touch with them and they happily informed me that the tap was still running.  They ultimately went down from approximately two taps a day to two taps a week! This drastic reduction has saved them both money and down time on the shop floor.


The EXOTAP® VC-10 TI tap has proven to me that with the help of the right cutting tool, customers can reduce tool usage and drastically minimize tooling costs. When no other tap can do the job, work the VC-10 TI tap into the equation. It is the industry solution for those difficult materials and applications.