Flexibility and simplicity are the two words behind the trends in tooling and workholding systems today. Manufacturers want to save time and money, therefore they want flexibility to change out tooling and parts quickly.
“We are developing solutions for power workholding such as hydraulic swing clamps and block clamps, because the real estate on a fixture is so valuable,” says Jason Betz, product specialist for Carr Lane Roemheld (St. Louis). “This pushes the use of smaller workholding components as much as possible because the more parts on the fixture the greater the productivity.”
“Coatings and substrates are growing by leaps and bounds,” says Michael Castner, director of rotating products for Sandvik (Fairlawn, NJ). “We are developing tooling that allows machine tools to be a lot more flexible. We are working with the machine tool builders in the beginning stages, more of a partnership, where the tools and new machines come out at the same time,” he adds.
“For hydraulic workholding, the simplicity of coupling and uncoupling pallets from a power supply is one of the most critical issues for the next generation of clamps,” says Rod Nelson, senior VP at Vektek (Elwood, KS). “Simplicity for the user is really key across the board, making the product more usable and user friendly.”
Tom Jensby at Sumitomo Electric Carbide Inc. (Mt. Prospect, IL) says that there is a trend away from grinding with the use of CBN and PCD inserts. “Two major areas in grinding where CBN has an advantage are the finish and the size it can control. We are adding and continue to add more grades for more areas where only grinding was an option. Most of the CBN business is a direct replacement for grinding,” he remarks. “In general, grinding could hold tighter tolerances and also much finer finishes. But now we are improving CBN with grades and coatings to give tighter tolerances and better finishes in turning applications instead of grinding. I can’t say that we’ll replace all grinding, but we certainly have a large area of the spectrum now.” He adds that selecting CBN over grinding gives better cost savings, because, at times, hard machining can be done without coolant or with less-expensive coolant, and energy costs can be reduced. Also, the cost of CBN versus grinding wheels is another factor to consider.
“We are seeing many companies switching from a single-station vise to a double-station one, says Bob Nuccitelli, from Parlec (Fairport, NY). “It gives them double the amount of workpieces that can be presented to the spindle. The company will stack vises side by side on a machine table, so they can present 15 or 20 workpieces to the spindle. This allows the spindle to machine various features on the workpieces with far fewer toolchanges and to rapid the spindle between parts.”
Another trend that Nuccitelli sees now is manufacturers trying to enclose their vises to keep chips and coolant out. “The worst problem with a vise is that people are constantly picking chips out of the drive mechanism. So we are enclosing the vise to eliminate this. We are also seeing customers using a tombstone with standard vises on it as a base, then building all their workholding systems off it,” adds Nuccitelli. “So instead of pulling the whole tombstone off the machine for a part change, they just take the jaws or the fixture plate off the machine. The heaviest part of the fixture stays on the machine at all times which helps speed up changeovers.”
“Workpiece materials are becoming more specific, and there are growing trends in these materials such as high-silicon aluminums in the automotive industry which take advantage of lighter weight, says Steve Ortiz, director of product management for Kennametal (Latrobe, PA). On the cutting tool side, he says that the company has to adapt to machine these materials at higher speeds.
Another material that is gaining favor with diesel engine manufacturers is compacted graphite iron (CGI). “We continue to keep a finger on the pulse of CGI. There isn’t a lot of volume right now in North America, but we are seeing more of it in Europe. We are working with suppliers to learn the material and develop ways to machine it better.”
“Our business is evolutionary not revolutionary,” says Bruce Belden, president, Carboloy (Warren, MI). “There is a huge installed base of machine tools in the market that really don’t change tooling that frequently. Even though a tool might be a revolutionary new product, it’s only going to affect a small percentage of the market immediately. There might be some great development in a given area, but it takes time for it to filter into this large base of machine tools. So we still have to serve this manufacturing base on a continual basis.”
Belden sees a trend to smaller machined components, such as in the electronics and the medical orthopedic industries. “These industries challenge us with new shapes and classes of materials. However, in terms of cutting tool consumption, the market might only be 2%.” For this market, Carboloy has developed a 3/8″ (10-mm) diam indexable insert, square-shoulder milling cutter that competes head-to-head with solid-carbide end mills, which will be displayed at IMTS.
At Carr Lane Roemheld, Betz says that they’ve learned that a lot of their customers are relying more on position monitors that tie back into the machine’s CNC. In addition to magnetic proximity switches for position monitoring, the company has developed a swing clamp that uses pneumatic sensing. It has a switch that ties into an air line. So if the clamp is in the clamped position, it can tell the machine that it’s set. “Being air-driven is an advantage, because it can be in a more aggressive environment than electrical components,” adds Betz. “So we are trying to think of different ways to solve our customers’ problems.
“We have a new product that is a hybrid of a push clamp and a work support. It pushes with a certain amount of force, and it retains two or three times the amount of push force. We are also working on products that are similar to a swing clamp, but they’ll swing different ways for easier part access,” Betz remarks.
Craig Segerlin, from Iscar (Arlington, TX), says that the company has developed a line of toolholders called ShortIN. They have a cantilevered beam that is close to the spindle bearings, offering better TIR. With this feature, the bending moment is shorter and rigidity is increased along with a reduction in deflection and an improved TIR under load. A 20% reduction in overhang can impact deflection by as much as 50%, and a 0.0004″ (0.01 mm) improvement in TIR can improve tool life by as much as 50%.
Sandvik Coromant has developed an indexable cutter for high-speed aluminum cutting with high edge security and accuracy and minimal runout, which will be shown at IMTS. In the 1.5″ (38-mm) diam version, the new CoroMill 790 safely mills at 37,500 rpm with a typical runout of just 0.0007″ (0.017 mm) TIR. Standard ISO cutters in this diam are limited to around 10,000 rpm with about 0.004″ (0.10 mm) TIR.
Several other products that Sandvik will have at IMTS include the CoroMill 390 long-edge indexable milling cutter for slotting, edging, and deep pocket milling operations. It reduces horsepower and improves chip removal. Another is the CoroMill 300 round-insert cutter for faster machining in die and mold, aerospace, and turbine blade milling applications. The toroid-shaped end mill can handle feed rates up to ten times higher than conventional cutters and has low cutting forces and reduced heat generation.
At IMTS, Vektek will be showing new hydraulic coupling technology and several new clamp designs. The coupling technology will eliminate the tricky pushing and pulling needed to release components.
Sumitomo is currently working on diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings. Jensby says that these are primarily used in high wear applications, but the company will introduce tools at IMTS with this coating on inserts for aluminum machining along with more PVD coatings.
“We also have a fine-grain PCD that has the strength of a C7 carbide called DA2200, and it’s probably the only one of its kind in the world. So we can do applications with this grade that were only covered by carbide before,” says Jensby.
Ortiz says that baby boomers are living longer and needing replacement body parts such as knee implants. Kennametal has developed its KM Micro tooling line that is a small quick-change tooling system for smaller machines to do micro machining for these types of medical industry parts or miniature electronic ones. These machines take a lot of setup time and Kennametal’s KM Micro tooling reduces setup times significantly to help productivity in this area.
Ortiz says that the company is also seeing a growing trend in automotive in the use of silicon aluminum such as 356 and 390 which are fairly difficult to machine. “We’ll see a lot of usage of the more exotic cutting-tool materials and some of the synthetic diamonds. In low-silicon aluminum, you’ll see PCD-type tooling.”
Diamond-coated carbide taps and drills are made from a premium grade of carbide and coated with Exocarb, a diamond ultra-fine coating. The grain size of this diamond coating has been reduced to one micrometer with greatly improved tool adhesion. The result is a smoother diamond surface that enables the tools to cut rather than rub. These coated tools have been very successful in graphite applications, showing upwards of 50 times the tool life of noncoated tools.
OSG Tap and Die
Taps for Tough Applications
Modern Application Taps are highly specialized for problem tapping functions in stainless, nickel, titanium, and other difficult-to-machine alloys. They have shorter thread lengths to reduce drag and tapping torque, better fluid passage, specifically engineered geometry for flutes and threads for each material group, and a wide variety of pitch diameters in both inch and metric sizes.
Besly Products Corp.
Machinable Uniforce Clamps
Uniforce clamps with machinable jaws are now available in five sizes. The clamping jaws can be machined to conform to the shape of a workpiece, enabling fixturing for unusual applications. The specially designed steel wedge spreads the clamping force uniformly on both sides of the 7075-T6 aluminum channel. A unique locking plate that eliminates vibration is provided to make the clamp rigid while machining the jaws to specifications. These clamps have clamping force from 500 to 6000 psi (3.4 – 41.4 MPa).
Mitee-Bite Products Inc.
Arnold-Mat vises offer a complete line of high-pressure/high-precision vises for machining centers. They use a screw mechanism with integral self-contained hydraulic power booster to create very high clamping pressure with little operator effort. Vises are available with optional power preset allowing even more control over clamping pressure, or with a hydropneumatic clamping mechanism producing up to 11,000 psi (75.8 MPa) clamping pressure with normal shop air. Jaw widths of 90, 125, 160 and 200 mm are available. All critical surfaces are precision ground to 0.09 mm along with the vise bed, and all guides and jaws are hardened to RC60.
Step-Chuck Collet Closer
New 5C pull-back-style collet closers are now offered with threaded nose. The closer accepts standard 5C collets up to 1.1″ (28-mm) diam, 5C chucks for parts up to 6″ (152-mm) diam, and expanding-nose 5C collets for ID holding. The 5C joins the bigger 35J and 22J modules as the newest additions to an extensive line of precision air and hydraulic collet workholding systems.
90º Centering Drill
This drill can replace most standard centering drills to reduce inventory. It can plunge, groove, edge break, and profile. It has a through-coolant passage for chip evacuation and edge cooling.
Vermont Indexable Tooling Inc.
Air Check for Part Verification
Air checks verify part positions for tombstone fixtures. These systems are located on the key datum surfaces (both machined and as cast surfaces) to ensure that the part is properly positioned prior to clamping and machining. Company offers a full line for most tombstones.
Ahaus Tool and Engineering Inc.
Ultra-Precision Mega Chucks for machining centers are micro-mirror finished to assure perfect concentricity for high-speed machining. Precision ground on every surface and dynamically pre-balanced, these chucks are ideally suited to run at speeds up to 40,000 rpm when used with symmetrically ground cylindrical shank tools without flats. Chucks are available with body diameters to 13 mm and two collet-series chucks.
Stanley Sheppard Co. Inc.
Multistation Toolholding System
ThermosGrip ISG 3100 is the company’s newest multistation thermal-toolholding system. It has an ergonomically enhanced design to ease operator use, improved software for easier shrink/unshrink transitions between HSS and carbide toolholders, and an expanded toolholder capacity that can handle tools up to 50-mm diam. A user-friendly control panel guides the operator through the program with a menu-driven alphanumeric display.
Bilz Tool Co. Inc.
The AQX multifunctional insert drill/mill features a unique design for the body and insert to allow various machining operations. It employs a center cutting edge that enables drilling as well as milling with one tool. The insert geometry and two cutting edges result in higher feed rates and cutting strength. Coolant-through or air-through holes aid in excellent chip evacuation. The body is made of special alloy steel with high heat-resistant properties. Surface treatment increases wear and corrosion resistance.
Mitsubishi Materials USA Corp.
Cobalt Drill Eliminates Stringy Chips
The VA INOX cobalt drill can improve productivity in stainless steel and other stringy chip-making metals. It breaks stringy chips into easily managed short, broken ones. Increased speed and feed rates, close to carbide drills, are possible due to new aggressive point geometry, new flute design, and TFT coating. It’s available in sizes from 3 to 16 mm.
Titex Tools Inc.
Multidirectional Turning System
MDT toolholding system provides a rigid, stable, and strong contact surface. It uses a single toolholder and insert for turning, profiling, and grooving in both axial and radial directions. This versatility yields improved production economies through fewer tool changes and machine stoppages. The system has been expanded with the addition of modular small and large-diameter face machining systems along with PCBN inserts for tougher materials and small-diameter boring bars.
The A2-5 16C pneumatic-collet block mounts on any HMC or VMC in any production environment, for every tool-room application, assembly operation or inspection, and surface grinding applications. It accepts all standard 16C round, hexagon, square, and specially shaped collets, step chucks, and Sure-Grip expanding-collet systems. The 5C tooling can be used with a simple collet adapter. The collet block is pneumatically actuated with a manually operated valve.
Modular Fixturing For Welding
Demmeler modular fixturing system features a universal five-sided table made of high tensile-strength steel with an accurate grid pattern of bores in the top and the four sides. Hardening of these tables to RC 55 is now offered as an option using an ion-nitriding process. Benefits include sliding and abrasion wear resistance, a non-stick surface for weld spatter, rust resistance, and inhibiting of carbon migration to stainless steels. Tables from 1000-mm square up to 3000 X 1500 mm can be joined to fixture larger parts.
Interchangeable Turret Tooling
Ultra XT is a new tool system for punch presses using thick turret-style tooling. Features of the system include: quick adjustment of the punch length, hardened-and-ground guides to reduce the abrasive action of punching, and interior and exterior spiral grease grooves that diffuse heat effectively. The tooling system also has slug-free dies, a unique design feature that clears the slug every cycle, thereby eliminating slug pulling. These features extend both tool and turret life while improving part quality and reducing scrap.
Mate Precision Tooling
Faster Workholding Setups
MTS workholding system increases productivity by permitting parts to be set up while the machine tool is making chips. Due to its repeatability and accuracy, fixed positions are easily maintained, allowing express jobs to be inserted between programmed jobs without the loss of setup time. Additionally, five-sided machining in one setup can be done. A standard interface makes the product suitable for any machine.
EROWA Technology Inc.
Serrated Workholding System
SeraLock tower and pallet workholding systems provide precise repeatable part clamping with complete flexibility to quickly change the setup to meet changing part requirements. Designed to provide modular, high-precision, high-density workholding, they have precision serrated surfaces that match and align with serrated moveable jaw modules. Positioning and clamping parts for machining is fast and accurate. No special equipment or skill is required to align the clamping components.
Kurt Mfg. Co.
TiAlN-coated jobber and taper-length QC Drills are made of M-7 high-speed steel and engineered for deep-hole drilling. They feature a 135° self-centering split point, wide-land parabolic design, reduced-margin width, and unique flute form that incorporates a stronger cross section with greater flute area behind the cutting lips. These features provide increased strength, rigidity, reduced heat generation, and improved chip evacuation. Additionally, the low coefficient of friction in the TiAlN coating creates an improved thermal barrier by providing increased wear resistance and higher oxidation threshold.
Precision Twist Drill
Ball-Nose End Mill
Ball-nose end mills perform semifinishing and finishing applications at high feed rates. They are designed with two cutting edges that provide cutting even with small cut depths. The BCR D inserts used in them can withstand high feed-rate forces. Inserts are produced with a protrusion on the bottom that mounts in a mating slot in the pocket. The ability to maintain high cutting-edge location precision results from very firm clamping that relieves most of the stresses normally exerted on the clamping screw. This new insert has a straight edge tangent to the round corner. It enables machining of a shoulder with a round corner.
Iscar Metals Inc.
SpectraTurn and SpectraMill PVD-coated inserts offer both TiAlN and AlTiN coatings for superior edge integrity and wear properties. For turning, TiAlN-coated inserts can run up to 100% faster than uncoated grades and up to 40% faster than PVD TiN-coated grades. For milling applications, TiAlN-coated inserts can machine at up to 50% higher speed than uncoated grades, and up to 20% higher feed rates than conventional CVD-coated inserts.
Valenite Metalcutting Tools & Systems
Face Mill for High-Speed Machining
CoroMill Century high-speed machining face mill combines high edge security with minimal runout to maximize throughput in aluminum, graphite, and other nonferrous materials. It gives automotive, aerospace, and general industrial manufacturers a productivity-enhancing face mill capable of 40,000 rpm. The new segmented cutter uses carbide or polycrystalline diamond inserts. The serrated inserts and microadjustable mating pockets (patent pending) locate cutting edges accurately with repeatably despite high radial loads. It’s available from 1.5 to 6.0″ (40 – 160-mm) diameter.
Cutter for Tough Alloys
Milling cutters boost productivity 100% to 500% in high-temperature alloy metals by machining at cutting speeds of 3000 fpm (914 m/min) and higher. A new ceramic grade, Kyon 2100, is the key to the performance of the new milling cutters, which are specially engineered for rough milling of nickel, cobalt, and iron-based heat-resistant alloys. The new cutters and inserts machine Waspalloy, Haynes 25, Inconel 718, Stellite, and similar materials at high cutting speeds and chip loads, providing metal-removal rates 8 – 5 times faster than cutters using carbide inserts.
Tool Measuring Systems
Parsetter TMM tool measuring and inspection systems combine high-resolution video camera technology and super-small microprocessing capabilities for tool presetting solutions. Parsetter TMM LiteVision Plus and the ParleVision IV systems use a Windows 2000-based tool-management system, allowing users to manage all tool assemblies for jobs running on machining centers and cells. The PGC IV Tool Data Management and Presetter Control software, included with both systems, can store six pages of tool data, digital pictures, tool drawings, and allows viewing of CAD files from the presetter. The ParleVision IV also comes with complete three-axis automation and includes auto position, focus, and index along with the ability to run complex measuring routines.
Boring Heads Extend Range
Redesigned 112.116 high-precision boring heads have an extended range from 3.5 to 6.0″ (89 – 152 mm) in diam and are now offered in a compact, cost-saving boring-tool kit. The Full Bore kit includes two boring heads, two KAB shanks of the customer’s choice, insert holders, reduction bushings, accessories, and wrenches. It organizes everything the user needs in a portable case, making it easy to move tools and components from machine to machine. The kit’s base cost is less than 40% of what these components separately would cost without a form-fitting carrying case.
KPT/Kaiser Precision Tooling
Carbide-Insert End Mills
Millstar carbide insert end mills feature a patented V-pocket clamping system for accuracy and rigidity. Precision-ground cutting inserts with AlTiN coating provide chip control, fast metal removal, and surface accuracy. Five types of inserts are available: ball nose, mini super-finisher ball nose, superfinisher ball nose, back draft, and toroid bull nose in both metric and US sizes.
Mini Grooving and Turning Inserts
Thinbit Minigroove ‘N Turn does internal grooving, face grooving, threading, and boring up to a shoulder. Inserts are available in two submicron-grain carbide grades, DM-2 and DM-5, with groove widths from 0.004″ (0.10 mm) through 0.125″ (3.2 mm) in 0.001″ (0.02-mm) increments in right-hand and left-hand orientation. Threading tools beginning at 16 threads/inch are also part of the line. The same insert is used for internal and face grooving.
Kaiser Tool Co.
To eliminate damaging high-precision ground shanks, like HSK, the company has a toolholder locking fixture featuring a nylon sleeve to protect the shank from damage when tools are mounted or removed. Fixtures are available in 30, 40, 45, and 50 CAT taper sizes and HSK A and C tapers. One set of sleeves is included with each fixture.
T.M. Smith Tool
Toolholder Balancing System
Acuro balancing system combines an easy to set up balancing unit along with graphical analytical software providing manufacturers with an economical way to ensure that toolholders and cutting tools run true. The system will detect unsymmetrical toolholders or tool shapes and eccentric running of the spindle resulting in unbalanced operations. It features a precise adapter system that accommodates most popular toolholders.
Schunk Precision Workholding Systems
These presetters make presetting boring and milling tools quick and easy with intuitive controls and software. All units display diameter or radius in inch or metric units. Absolute or incremental measurements can be made and data can be transferred in ASCII format. All models feature a standard 50-taper spindle housed by a precision bearing. Presetter adapter sleeves are available to hold smaller tapers.
Command Tooling Systems
Wiper insert provides excellent surface finish and good chip control at high feed rates. It is available in both coated and uncoated cermets, as well as coated carbide grades in CNMG 431, 432, and WNMG 431, and 432 sizes.
Kyocera Industrial Ceramics Corp.
Thrillers Handle Four Operations
Mosys is a modular toolholder system that incorporates Thrillers to do drilling, threading, chamfering, spot facing or counterboring in one pass, improving productivity by up to 70% through cycle-time savings. Four cutting tools and operations are combined into one tool with this system. Thrilling is done by a solid-carbide cutting tool that includes a twist-drill point, a thread-milling and chamfering element, and straight-cylindrical shank with a clamping flat.
Tsudakoma TN Series rotary tables feature high clamp torque and high indexing speed of up to 44 rpm for the rotating axis and 22 rpm for the tilting axis along with a wide tilting range for reduced machining cycle times. They feature a small footprint and require no hydraulic hookups for maximum machine flexibility.
Koma Precision Inc.
Unireaming tools, URM and URH, are single and multi-cutter reaming tools designed to run on virtually any type of conventional machine tool or center. The URM-style Unireamer is a multi-cutting edge tool and the URH is a single-cutting edge tool. All of the tools are precision ground with multiple-carbide guide pads for added directional control, and better burnishing performance. Several cutting lead angles can be used depending on the application.
American Heller Corp.
Tru-Therm shrink-fit tooling system uses induction for heating/cooling. It is a low-cost system that is fast acting and can handle a range of toolholder sizes and styles for cutting tools up to 50 mm in diam. It offers a selection of four different-size induction coils that can be changed within five seconds, touch screen programming through a simple cutting tool menu, and a 7.5 kVA power supply.
Briney Tooling Systems
FlexHead allows total rotational and compound angle settings while drilling and tapping angled holes. Two vernier scales simplify orientation; the first orients the cutting tool’s radial position (0 – 360º), the second sets the angle of the cutting tool (0 – 90º). Positioning pin and drive key slots can be oriented to match a machining center’s spindle and ATC by adjusting the positioning ring. Usable in most ATCs and machine tool magazines, FlexHead can be manufactured for coolant-through spindles.
New TiAlN Coating
Called Balinit X.ceed, this coating for carbide tools optimizes properties such as hardness, oxidation resistance, and thermal stability. Cutting tests involving materials with hardness to RC 62 indicate an increase in service life as great as three-fold versus previously used coatings. Performance enhancements were achieved with difficult materials such as titanium and nickel-based alloys.
New Insert Extends Tool Life
A new tip-geometry design increases productivity and insert life in stainless steel, titanium, Inconel, and other tough-machining metals. Inserts are available in 0.1-mm increments in sizes from 9 to 50.8 mm. They can be supplied with a variety of coatings for various applications.
Aloris Tool Technology
CNC Milling Chucks
APC Milling Chucks use specially coated collets for holding power up to four times greater than that of shrink-fit and hydraulic toolholder systems. End mills are easily changed with a hex-key, and there is no heat-shrinking equipment to contend with. Coolant-through capability is standard on all models. Two size ranges are offered: 3 – 14 mm and 12 – 20 mm.
Pullback CNC Collet Chucks
Pullback-collet chucks have a new optimized geometry providing a lighter and more streamlined shape while maintaining high strength and rigidity. Benefits of the new design include reduced wear on machine tool spindle bearings and improved tool clearance. A built-in coolant slinger and internal O-ring seals provide protection from coolant and chips.
Concentric Workholding Systems
PER/HER workholding fixtures offer a high clamping force up to 60 – 100 kN with a maximum workpiece diameter of 127 – 260 mm. The center-accuracy tolerance is less than 0.01 mm. Units are protected against dirt, dust, and chips. Typical applications are for shaft end-working, pipes, and tubes. Clamping jaws and clamping arms are changeable to meet every workpiece size. Other units for smaller diameters are also available.
ARLA Maschinentechnik GmbH
Inserts and Holders
Vermonster line of Helical Ground Ball Nose Inserts features a new grade that resists chipping and wear, new geometry that creates less cutting pressure and deflection, and improved finishes. It also has a new coating that works better in wet or dry applications. Different geometries are available for steel, aluminum, titanium, copper alloys, and stainless steel. Sizes are offered from 3/8 to 1″ (9.5 – 25.4 mm).
The MTT M9 Vanadium Range of taps now includes thread-forming taps. They are available in UNC or UNF machine screw and fractional and metric sizes with TiN coating. TiN is recommended for threading in stainless, carbon, and high-alloy steels with high wear resistance.
Pascal swing clamp CT 7MPa and Link Clamp 7MPa allow maximum machining space, but hold workpieces securely. A strong camshaft holds even under great pressure. Heavy-duty scraper uses a special seal to exclude particles from entering the piston area inside the cylinder. Clamping forces vary according to clamp-head length.
Aioi Seiki Inc.
This article was first published in the August 2002 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.