ISO 13399 - standard tool data - the next big thing?

6 min read

Last year, Sandvik Coromant president Klas Forsström said that the application of ISO 13399 was "maybe the next revolution" and, recently, the company has announced it is working with Siemens PLM on a related project. Andrew Allcock unravels the story

ISO 13399, a standard approach to cutting tool physical attribute definition, is not a new standard, but there is now some traction behind its application; specifically, Sandvik Coromant and Siemens PLM recently announced they are working together to implement its benefits within Siemens PLM's software ( The standard has most recently been developed under the auspices of ISO/TC29/WG 34 (literally, Technical Committee 29, Working Group 34). Companies involved with its development here are: Sandvik Coromant; Kennametal; Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology (KTH); and UK information technology consultancy Ferroday of Birkenhead. However, ISO 13399 actually has its roots in the mid-90s, with this kicked on further in 2000 by a Caterpillar Inc-driven project supported by Sandvik Coromant AB and Kennametal Inc. Caterpillar withdrew pretty quickly, however, but the standard progressed slowly. COMMON DEFINITION So what is the standard? ISO 13399 provides a common definition of cutting tool physical attributes that will, potentially, allow harmonisation of all tooling suppliers' physical product descriptions. This would mean that commonly structured tooling data from multiple tooling vendors can be employed in software systems, such as CADCAM tool libraries, allowing for fast, easy automated population of tool physical data. The standard also supports the incorporation of tool offset data, so can be employed at shopfloor level, with presetters. ISO 13399 covers inserted carbide and solid tooling (not grinding wheels). The document does not, however, standardise cutting tool shapes, underlines Sandvik Coromant's Bengt Olsson, project information specialist at product information management at the company. And heralding its application in its latest tapping catalogue, Sandvik Coromant opens with this: "For the first time ever, there is a standardised way of describing product data, regarding cutting tools available. When all tools in the industry share the same parameters and definitions, communicating tool information between software systems becomes very straight forward." In the case of taps, there are 34 attributes defined by ISO 13399 – listed in the catalogue – although the complete standard numbers 133 descriptors (see here). The parameters take in four main groups of item: cutting item (insert); tool item (insert holder); adaptive item (toolholder extension/back end); and auxiliary item (screws, clamps). Complete tool assemblies are capable of being defined by the standard, these being created by the end user from the individual tool elements. The standard is also able to adapt to developing technology. "Tools with multiple functions can also be defined. An example is a tool containing one right-handed milling cutter and two left-handed turning tools. This type of tool did not even exist when the standard was developed, which shows some of the strength of the development," explains Mr Olsson. The standard does not include speed, feed or application data, however. The standard has taken a long time to 'mature', because, he says: "One major reason is 'the chicken and the egg'. You must have data available to do something with it and this has been a very heavy workload for us. We are now about ready to supply all data with our tools, although it is not complete. This has taken about two years to achieve, not just to create the data, but put in place systems to allow us to manage this going forward. We can now produce thousands of pieces of information, automatically, for our tools." And in announcing the Sandvik Coromant-Siemens PLM tie-up, Vynce Paradise, director of product marketing, part manufacturing solutions, Siemens PLM software, based in the US, says: "The standard has got to a point now where we believe we can produce a practical solution. And the next step is for us to build a practical solution for the benefit of our customers, a standardised cutting tool catalogue." VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT DEMAND Sandvik Coromant's Mike Verkamp, business development manager for North and South America, focusing mainly on business services in the virtual environment, explains what he has been seeing in the market: "In the last several years, we've seen a demand for data. No longer is it just a case of supplying a cutting tool in a box. Along with it has to come the data to allow it to be used in a virtual environment. And the demand from multiple sources, with data in multiple formats, is causing a problem in the industry; not only for us, but also the end-user, in getting the right data in the right format." In fact, Mr Olsson amplifies this by saying that, due to the difficulty, many customers do not spend time creating solid models for their tools, so cannot benefit from simulation during the CAM process and so do not benefit from all the CAM capabilities that are available. Mr Paradise explains the problem from Siemens PLM's side: "We deal with a wide range of manufacturers in a broad range of industries and, as we offer software to them to manage their cutting tools, one of the issues we face is that the tool libraries have no content. It is hard for us to find that data and our customers struggle to get data into their systems." Announced at last September's IMTS manufacturing technology show in Chicago, the company is building a demonstrator for use with partner companies with which it is working: Sandvik Coromant, Iscar and Kennametal. The official launch is anticipated to be at the EMO exhibition (16-21 September, Hanover, Germany). The announced Siemens PLM/Sandvik solution includes three elements: tool classification that describe types of tools by family and type – milling tools, end mill, for example; ISO13399 data for each tool; and a STEP AP 214 capability to support 3D representations of cutting tools, if no solid model can be taken from the tooling supplier (ISO 13399 allows for such 3D models to be linked to a tool description, however). Tool supplier models define the tools more fully, geometrically speaking, but STEP AP 214, which would provide the capability to generate simple cylinders and cones, is "adequate" in most cases, offers Mr Paradise, who adds: "So the idea is that we can put together a standard catalogue definition, which is open – and that's the important part – so that other cutting tool vendors can adopt the same catalogue definition." The envisaged solution interfaces with Siemens PLM's existing tooling database – Manufacturing Resource Library (MRL), which is part of its Teamcentre software. For those users that already have a structured tool database (MRL), it won't be necessary for them to start again, as Siemens offers a 'mapping' tool to link ISO 13399 attributes to the MRL system. And once done, that cross-mapping linkage will automatically apply to all tools of the same type. More than this, though, the solution can operate outside of small NX CAM installations, or even with third-party CAM systems, it is suggested. The customer benefits outlined by Sandvik Coromant's Mr Verkamp include the ease with which new tooling can be introduced into their systems and then applied. "Customers can read catalogues into their systems and stay on top of technology much more easily with this standard format of data." Mr Olsson expands: "At the point when customers apply tooling in their CAM systems, that is when we would like to be able to offer our advice – use this tool; use it this way. He is then creating a toolpath with real information, not assumed information." And while speeds and feeds are not a part of ISO 13399, they are supported in STEP AP238, so could be brought to bear, either as part of Sandvik Coromant's under-development Adveon software (see box, below) or a separate software module. And another benefit reported by Sandvik Coromant is that "according to CAM system suppliers, automated input of cutting tool data to CNC systems can increase the productivity of a machining process by as much as 50%". The benefits clearly look to be high. But the big deal right now is that two large companies have come together to drive development, based on standards, offers Mr Paradise. "This the first time, perhaps, that two major companies from different parts of the solution chain have come together to address the problem and build on the standards ISO 13399 and STEP," he underlines. That said, he does add this rider: "This won't work unless other software vendors eventually move to take advantage of the same standardised tool data. That said, I think that, as this standardised data becomes available from more tooling vendors, then the software industry will follow suit." Well, with Sandvik Coromant, Iscar, Kennametal and others (see box) on board, the momentum is building, so expect to hear more of ISO 13399 at EMO and thereafter. Box item 1 of 2 Sandvik Coromant's solution – Adveon While Sandvik Coromant ( and Siemens PLM (0121 745 0300) are working together to create a software solution as part of the Siemens PLM offering, the cutting tool maker is also developing its own Adveon system, which will be a stand-alone software tool that other CAM manufacturers can integrate or to which they can interface. Adveon will allow the use of ISO 13399-defined tools from other manufacturers. No release date has been given, but it is likely to be seen sometime this year. (A system that can be implemented within machine tool CNCs, in support of on-machine programming, has also been mooted.) Box item 2 of 2 Who's in the ISO 13399 club? Machinery asked for comment from several other well-known cutting tool and CADCAM suppliers about their involvement with, or application of, the new standard. It would be fair to say there wasn't an avalanche of response. Cutting tool specialist WNT (0800 073 2073) came back with a positive, however, saying that the company was almost at the end of updating its product definitions to ISO 13399, moving from the previous DIN 4003 standard. This data will be associated with all 2D and 3D product data files/models, with these files downloadable in DXF or STEP format, for example. Both CGTech (01273 773538), author of VERICUT toolpath proveout/optimisation software, and CADCAM company Edgecam (01233 506100), have been involved with Sandvik on the ISO 13399 journey, with Edgecam saying it is ready to use ISO 13399 data within its tool library. Clearly, Iscar (0121 422 8585) and Kennametal (01384 401000) are also on board with the Sandvik Coromant/Siemens PLM push. First published in Machinery, March 2013