Cryogenics — as if freezing people to wake them up later wasn’t weird enough, now you can freeze your tools. If you saw this post on Milwaukee’s “Ice Edge” recip saw blades, you might have thought a cryogenic heat-treatment process was an oddity. But cryogenic deep-freezing of metals is becoming common, and not just because it can cut production costs. Something good happens to metal at -300 Fahrenheit — testing shows better wear, greater flexibility, and increased durability.
The NW Cryogenics site shows an example of a manufacturer who’d been using T15, titanium-nitride-coated, premium drill bits and getting about 15 high-tolerance holes before having to replace the bit. Then the manufacturer switched to an off-the-shelf, M3 drill bit, that by itself wouldn’t produce a single hole of the necessary tolerance — but after the cryogenic treatment, it could drill 200 or more holes within the necessary requirements, saving the manufacturer $100,000 a year.
These testimonials tell how the treatment dramatically improved the performance of a GT gearbox, mower blades, a helicopter engine, and even guitar strings. A quick search could turn up many more applications for the “deep freeze” — for Toolmongers, this is a “cool” trend in tooling.
NW Cryogenics will treat tools piecemeal, at $2 for a small 1/4″ drill bit, up to $16 for a 12″ long, one-inch bit — or you can pay by the pound. Paying for the treatment by the piece may sound steep, but buying your own freezer could really set you back a pretty penny.