How Crafts Technology’s Modular Composite Countersink Drilling Solutions Reduce the Cost Per Hole in Aerospace and Automotive Applications

Countersink tools are used in the aerospace and automotive industries to produce holes that allow fasteners to sit flush to the surface on advanced composite and aluminum applications. Integral countersink drills consist of a single piece that produces countersink holes. Crafts Technology has successfully reduced the cost per hole by designing a modular system with no adverse performance effects.

Crafts has been perfecting modular countersink drilling for decades. The modular component includes a holder, insert, and drill.  According to Jeff Roberts, vice president of engineering, “Our solution has revolutionized countersinking applications by allowing the end-user to systematically refurbish the countersink inserts and PCD drills, which reduces changeover time and overall cost.” 

Crafts Technology Modular Countersink Drill

Over the years, our experience and continuous improvement culture have developed alongside the exponential growth in composite usage, particularly within the aerospace sector. Today, the most technologically advanced companies from Silicon Valley to the largest airplane producers in the world incorporate modular countersink tooling.

Holders are engineered and manufactured per application using customer specifications and the highest quality materials. The modular design allows users to harness current drill solutions without changing engineering/production specifications. At Crafts, we have successfully created modular designs that substantially reduce tooling costs for various clients, including major aerospace companies.

As a design leader, we embraced continual improvement, which has resulted in improved runout, ergonomics, and regrinds. Our ongoing experience has allowed us to pioneer design changes like converting existing product-specified drill tips to straight shanks within a modular system that maintains the validation process.

Crafts always provides modular composite countersink drilling parameters and prototype assemblies to clients to confirm each component works seamlessly as a complete solution. End-users understand that incorporating modular engineered systems allows for dramatic cost improvement over integral (solid/single piece) designs by seamlessly replacing inserts and drills.  A recently released white paper, “Modular Composite Countersink Drilling for Aerospace and Automotive Applications: Optimizing Cost per Hole”, further describes how we reduced the cost of tooling for a major aerospace company.

By partnering with Crafts, a company that has been perfecting this technology for years, your tooling life can be dramatically increased by refurbishing precision components and sub-assemblies. Our system provides an analysis of every stage of the value stream, from Just-In-Time [JIT] inventory management to the packaging and ergonomics of tooling returns and replacements.

Discover the possibilities and learn how Crafts can develop a custom refurbishing system for your application that delivers significant cost savings.

Crafts Technology Presents at AeroMat 2021

On Monday, May 24, 2021, Jeff Roberts, Vice President of Engineering of  Crafts Technology conducted a presentation on “Composite Cutting Solutions that Greatly Reduce TCO of Countersink Tooling and AFP/ATL Machines” during a technical program session at the virtual AEROMAT 2021 Conference. This technical program was part of their Composite Materials & Structures session.

AeroMat is hosted by American Society for Metals (ASM). ASM International is the preeminent association for engaging and connecting materials professionals and their organizations to the resources necessary to solve problems, improve outcomes, and advance society. As the world’s largest and most established materials information society, ASM engages and connects a global network of peers and provides access to trusted materials information through reference content and data, education courses, international events, and research. AeroMat is the forum that showcases the interchange of pertinent technical information on aerospace industry material and processes. With over 125 technical presentations, plenary speakers featuring the aerospace industry’s most pre-eminent leaders in aerospace materials and a diverse exposition with over 50 companies and organizations showcasing state-of-the-art products/services.

Crafts Technology specializes in using superhard materials for cutting solutions that can dramatically reduce TCO for all specialized cutting applications in the aerospace manufacturing process, including AFP, ATL, and countersink drilling. Crafts Technology collaborates with Fives Industrial Engineering Group to develop optimal cutting tools that achieve higher performance for both the machine manufacturer and the OEM. This video was created and presented by the VP of Engineering and the full video can be viewed on the Crafts Technology YOUTUBE channel.

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A New Standard: The Dynamic Partnership Between End User, OEM, and Industrial Machine Consumable Manufacturers

Large industrial machines produce a lot of something. That ‘a lot of something’ varies from laying composite tape on the outside of an airplane fuselage, to cutting fabric for baby diapers, to dispensing droplets of adhesive on electronics so your phone won’t break after an accidental drop.

Most of these industrial machines use consumables like knives, drills, and needles that perform a critical manufacturing operation. These consumables govern the performance and efficiency of each machine. If the components are not of the highest quality and/or not appropriately maintained the industrial machine’s productivity can dramatically drop. At the same time, consumable enhancements can result in noticeable increases in a machine’s functionality. 

This criticalness of the consumables breeds a unique relationship between the end user of the equipment, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and the industrial machine consumable manufacturer.  Each party plays an important role in the effectiveness of the wear parts, which translates to the effectiveness of the machine as a whole. 

End-User: Uses the equipment and the consumable wear parts

OEM: Designs and manufactures the equipment

Consumable Manufacturer: Designs and manufactures individual consumables that are routinely replaced, generally from wear)

How the end user, OEM, and consumable manufacturer’s relationship changes over time

At the beginning of an industrial equipment’s life, after the initial bugs are worked out, the end user traditionally appreciates the utility of the machine.  

During this period, the OEM usually supplies the end user with wear parts.  When problems that affect the machine’s performance arise, the end user often turns to the OEM for answers. The OEM is eager to find a solution to keep their customer happy, confirm their machine’s value, and maintain future business opportunities.

As the original manufacturer, the OEM is responsible for the design of the equipment and intimately understands the overall intent and specifications of the machine. OEMs don’t manufacture every component of a complex piece of equipment – that’s where the industrial machine consumable manufacturer steps in and becomes a vital part of the process. The consumable manufacturer’s engineer understands the dynamics, specifications, and functionality of the respective sub-components.

Although the OEM possesses a deep understanding of the machine, they often rely on consumable manufactures to handle the finite details of wear parts. Through engineering and manufacturing knowledge, the consumables manufacturer can discover the greatest characteristics of the component. This level of mastery is achieved by understanding the manufacturing process, design elements, and the materials science of individual consumables.

As the machine matures, aftermarket consumables may enter into the equation. Aftermarket manufacturers go around the OEM working directly with the end user, frequently offering parts at a reduced price. This relationship is not without its’ flaws. Without the OEM there is no understanding of the original design intent of the machine. To overcome this aftermarket manufacturers often reverse engineer the part, trying to make enhancements.  Without a full understanding of the machine and knowing how changes impact the system this process can lead to extended R&D time, marginal if any improvements, and troubleshooting difficulty.

Boeing, Fives and Crafts Technology developed an open-source partnership to find a better way

By creating an open-source partnership that leverages the strengths of each entity a win-win-win solution can transform the relationship, resulting in measurable benefits for each party including improved utility, performance, throughput, and revenue. 

Crafts Technology (consumable manufacturer) embraced one such partnership with Boeing (end user) and Fives (OEM) that resulted in a new technology for Automated fiber placement (AFP) blades that are used by Boeing to cut composite tape on AFP machines. Each party brought a unique perspective to the development process. By collaborating to develop AFP and ATL (automated tape laying) solutions unparalleled success was achieved that delivered the perfect balance of cost, uptime, and performance.

A critical step in the partnership included understanding each organizations role in the process and communicating what issues and opportunities each firm faced.  By sharing information and asking a few simple questions the team developed a solution that was successfully implemented.  

Questions end users, OEMs, and consumable manufacturers should ask to uncover consumable solutions?

End User

With the benefit of seeing the equipment in action the end user has a unique perspective enabling “out of the box” ideas that can result in dramatic improvements.

  • What causes downtime? 
  • What small improvements can enhance machine operation and maintenance? 
  • What are the low hanging fruits restricting overall machine efficiency?


As the original equipment manufacturer OEMs best understand the design and intent of the machine and have experience with unique and reoccurring issues.

  • What has been done in the past? 
  • What are the restraints in the design? 
  • What new technologies are available?

Consumable Manufacturer

Being laser-focused on specific wear parts the consumable manufacturer can incorporate solutions from across industries and best understands the specific component design options and limitations.   

  • What aspects can be altered to enhance performance?
  • What materials can be used to increase performance?
  • Can the consumables be designed to incorporate re-use instead of replacement to enhance the total cost of ownership of the machine?

By developing an open-source team Boeing, Fives, and Crafts Technology experienced dramatic improvements that would not have occurred independently. The redesign resulted in an increased blade life, reduced manufacturing cost, and changeover time was cut in half.

Leverage each parties’ strengths

Next time your producing “a lot of something” consider how you can incorporate strategies that create an open-source partnership. Look at the big picture, take the time to understand the value each organization brings to the process, and most important continually strive to improve communication. By fostering strong synergies you’ll build the foundation to create systems and products that significantly enhance performance and productivity.

Learn How Crafts Technology Enhances Part Design

Crafts Technology, Inc. manufactures machinery and components. The Company offers rings, core pins, fluid dispensing components, tungsten carbide, advanced ceramics, and precision knives. Crafts Technology conducts its business in the State of Illinois.