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Technology Tailored to Shop’s Machining Needs

Jim Lorincz
By Jim Lorincz Contributing Editor, SME Media
Visual display of tool measurement on a Makino iQ300 micromachining center generated by the MIDA Diamond VTS
is shown in the inset.

You don’t have to look too far to find tooling presetters that fit the machining requirements of just about any size shop. The value of off-line tool presetting—rather than stopping machine spindles to touch off tools as machines sit idle—continues to prove itself invaluable, especially to the smallest first-time user shops. Larger shops have generally recognized that presetting tooling delivers significant quantifiable results. According to Brendt Holden, president, Haimer USA (Villa Park, IL), these benefits include minimizing idle time and rejects, reducing tool costs, increasing process reliability in production, improving tool life, and ensuring consistent product quality. “One survey I’ve seen identified presetting technology at the top of the buying equipment wish list for 2017,” said Holden. “That is remarkable for an investment in non-chipmaking technology.”

For their part, suppliers of precision presetting technology have kept pace with the requirements of everything from the smallest job shops to high-volume production houses. Presetting models from entry-level basic machines to the latest sophisticated automated systems measure tool length, radius or diameter, angles and radii, among others. The real differences from model to model are found in the construction, size of tools handled, use of sophisticated imaging technology, and availability of postprocessing and RFID communications capabilities, both of which are becoming more important.

Presetter technology has evolved to minimize errors caused by operator interpolation and transcription. Capture of measurement data and direct loading into machine NC controls are facilitated by camera systems, lasers, and RFID and machine readable chips providing seamless automatic data communications. The ultimate goal of presetter technology is to keep spindles turning and not leave machines sitting idle.

Automated Presetting Sets Shops Up for Success

Automated presetting that reduces cycle times and ensures accurate offset measurements without time-robbing manual intervention has resulted from a recent collaboration between Rego-Fix Tool Corp. (Indianapolis, IN) and Zoller Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI). Both companies have developed an innovative approach to automated tool presetting and measuring system. “Called the Venturion 600 with powRgrip clamping, the system virtually eliminates the need for any operator intervention and, thus, significantly increases tool presetting speed, precision, and repeatability,” said David McHenry, Rego-Fix engineering and technical manager.

“In working closely with our customers, we realized there was a high demand for the use of the powRgrip technology as part of an automated presetter system,” said McHenry. Venturion 600 with powRgrip is capable of high-precision clamping/unclamping, measuring, and presetting of tools of all types. High-torque powRgrip collet clamping technology operates with less than 3 μm of runout as well as dampens vibrations to achieve excellent surface finishes in high-speed machining applications.

Zoller Venturion 600 with Rego-Fix powRgrip delivers automatic presetting without manual intervention.

“The marriage of advanced automated presetting technologies with that of powRgrip further expands powRgrip’s application reach, especially in production line manufacturing environments. Large production companies—often in the automotive and aerospace sectors—require the consistency and speed that only highly repeatable automated presetting systems can deliver,” said McHenry.

What Makes the Venturion System So Powerful?

In operation, the Venturion 600 provides easy, simple navigation in terms of input and operation. Shops create profiles for each cutting tool used and specify parameters, such as gage lengths and diameters. When an operator presets a tool, he places it inside a collet, then into the presetter, selects the correct preset information in the software, and initiates the system. The system then measures the cutting tool, presses it in and measures again to attain the final assembled measurements. As a safety feature, the operator must manually start the press-in cycle to ensure hands are clear of the machine. The system then prints the tool data or exports it to an RFID chip.

Zoller’s presetting products include hardware for tool presetting, measuring, automated inspection, and software. All functions are designed to provide a complete solution for meeting process reliability and traceability. All standard measuring functions are available, including longitudinal and cross dimensions, radius, two-angle technology, and concentricity and run out.

Tool identification and data transfer, especially for small to medium-size companies, are accomplished without network connection. Tools are measured by the Zoller presetting and measuring devices and the measured tool data are encoded in a QR code, which is printed on a label. Once the QR code is scanned with the reader, the data are automatically transferred to the control of the CNC machine, eliminating the possibility of error resulting from manual data entry via typing.

The Venturion 600 presetting system features a Zoller image process software “pilot” along with intelligent touchscreen operation and intuitive, ergonomic operating elements that optimize workflow. Equipped with Zoller’s high-precision spindle “ace,” the system delivers a concentricity of 0.00008″ (0.002 mm) and quick-change tool clamping. A CNC controls the spindle C axis for automatic focusing of the tool cutting edge, while a rotational encoder allows for fully automatic positioning of the spindle to the nominal angle and/or evaluation of the C axis for measuring.

There is no need for the operator to manually move the tool between a measurement system and the powRgrip mechanical toolholder unit with Venturion 600. The automated presetter clamps the tool in less than 10 seconds then measures its height, determines the machining offsets, and sets the tool in the toolholder—in as little as one minute.

Haimer Acquires Proven Presetting Product Portfolio

Haimer GmbH has acquired the Microset presetter product line from DMG Mori and rebranded it as Haimer Microset. “Acquisition of the Microset line of presetters is a great fit for our portfolio of solutions, which includes toolholders, shrink-fit machines, and balancing machines as well as 3D sensors and solid carbide cutting tools,” said Haimer USA President Brendt Holden. Haimer Microset portfolio of products comprises more than 29 models from the entry level UNO Smart machine to the VIO linear tool shrink model.

Haimer Microset presetters are compatible with machine tools of all manufacturers and are capable of bidirectional communication and postprocessing.

“Successful machining requires both powerful machines and highly precise toolholding technology, which ensures that the precision is transferred from the spindle right to the cutting edge,” said Holden. “The benefits of presetting include reducing scrap, minimizing time-wasting downtime, and getting more accurate information into the machine tool to help reduce scrap. We are able to utilize the machine tool fully because we’re not wasting time touching off on tools or manually probing a tool. All the while the machine tool is running and that’s where the real payback is found,” said Holden.

“Our challenge is to match the right presetting technology to the user’s needs. Of course, you have to start with quality construction of the product to get accurate readings, but then we ask our prospective customers what their needs might be looking ahead to the next five years. For example, will they want to transfer offset data directly to the machine tool,” said Holden.

The answer about which presetter to choose is found in the breadth of the Haimer Microset presetter product line. Presetters are compatible with machine tools from all manufacturers and are capable of bidirectional communication and postprocessing. Measured data are directly transferred to the machine tool NC control systems from Siemens, Heidenhain, FANUC, MAPPS and others connected by USB data storage, Ethernet LAN or RS232. In addition, RFID communications are available. Haimer Microset presetters can be used on the shop floor, as well as in the toolcrib.

Making the Right Tool Presetter Selection

The biggest challenge for shops of all sizes, but particularly job shops, is getting the choice and economics of selecting a presetter right and the only way to do that is really to scope out the shop’s tooling requirements. “Key considerations are to match the shop’s budget to its presetting requirements,” said Doug Sumner, product manager tool measuring systems, BIG Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc. (Hoffman Estates, IL). “Information about the shop’s requirements includes holder sizes, the greatest length and diameter of the tooling, total tolerances and level of automation. Equally important is how tool setting is organized in the shop,” said Sumner.

“In job shops, it isn’t uncommon for operators to do their own tooling setups right on the shop floor. Speroni machines are shop hardened and we actually prefer the presetters to be out on the shop floor. It all comes down to how many machines and how many tools per shift are being used. For example, many cells usually have one presetter dedicated to the cell,” said Sumner.

Speroni Magis presetter, BIG Kaiser’s best seller, guarantees 0.0003″ (0.008 mm) runout 16″ (406 mm) out of spindle.

Speroni presetting technology covers everything from entry level machines to machines designed for higher production shops. “Our entry-level presetter is the Diaset which comes with an indicator, or optical projector. It’s a perfect presetter for drills, mills and boring bars, with plus minus a thousandth accuracy. For mid-level applications and shops with tolerances under a thousandth, there is the Speroni Magis bench top unit for diameters under 14″ [356-mm] comes in a variety of sizes including 16, 20, 24″ [400, 500, 600 mm] in length. The Magis benchtop tool presetting and measuring system features a single screen user interface and is available with manual motion, gravity feed or is upgradeable to include tool clamping and CNC spindle to do runout checks.

“The one camera system with its user-friendly controls can measure height and diameter, cut path measurement of the tool by rotating the tool and locking in the greatest height and greatest diameter, as well as check runouts. Magis is our best seller with 400, 500, and 600-mm lengths and 14″ [356-mm] diameters. With the Magis we guarantee 0.0003″ [0.008 mm] runout 16″ [406 mm] out of the spindle,” said Sumner.

Speroni Futura is a high-precision modular tool presetting system designed to achieve repeatable precision of 1 μm. The Futura is available in a wide variety of configurations from a most basic manual machine all the way up to full CNC. Optional configurations include a second camera for inspection, CAD/CAM integration and RFID. With the Speroni Futura, and its high-accuracy spindle, we’ll guarantee 0.0001″ [0.003 mm] maximum runout 16″ out of the spindle.”

For fully automatic operation, the Speroni Futura AutoShrink is an integrated presetting and shrink-fit system that was developed by Speroni S.P.A. for the auto industry. The newest system was introduced as a “hands-off”, fully automatic (operator independent) completely safe solution in terms of functionality and its unmatched ±2.5 µm setup accuracy.

Tool ID Management Eliminates Button Pushing

Koma Precision Inc. (East Windsor, CT) has introduced the TID System (tool identification software) to its Elbo Controlli lineup of presetting products. TID is a tool identification system that establishes an interface between the Elbo Controlli tool presetters and the machine’s NC controller. Included in the system is a 2D Datamatrix reader and fully customizable GUI to allow transferring data directly from the CNC machine to the tool presetter.

In practice, the tool is measured with the presetter. The Datamatrix code is scanned with the 2D reader to save and update. The tool is removed from the presetter and taken to the CNC machine where the machine model is selected on a laptop or tablet. Once tool data are scanned into the tool database, the tool is selected and the data are loaded appear on the NC control.

“In addition to eliminating machinist error and manual button pushing, the TID system sends tool data directly to the machine control. Data are customizable to length and diameter of tools, angles, and radii, as well as tool wear and tool life. The user can load information about expected tool life. Once QR codes are scanned to update to the machine, remaining tool life will be indicated,” said Tim Murray, Elbo Controlli product manager, Koma Precision.

“There are eight models available in the Elbo Controlli lineup. TID is compatible with Sethy Six, Hathor 6, 66B models. E46L, and E46TW models and really fits in with shops whether small or large and using 25 or 25,000 tools,” said Murray. “It enables anyone to upload data quickly without anyone having to push the button to put in tool length or diameter. Whether selecting an entry level machine, mid-level Hathor 6, or high-end E46L, users considering presetting need to supply information on the maximum length and maximum diameters of tools, maximum tool weights, whether postprocessing and sending data directly are required, and repeatability and tolerances of different types of measurement that are required.

Ultra Precision Toolsetting with MIDA Diamond VTS

Marposs Corp.’s new generation MIDA Diamond VTS visual tool setters are designed to address the need for accuracy in micro manufacturing for industries like aerospace, aeronautical, biomedical, and die mold where the highest levels of precision for parts and molds are required. Tools employed in these processes are becoming smaller and smaller, reaching diameters of 0.1 mm or less. As a consequence, these micro tools are redefining the rules of on-machine tool measurement where traditional touch off techniques simply can’t be used.

The new compact MIDA Diamond VTS features a reduced machine table area and repeatability 0.2 μm, which is not affected by the limited table dimensions. The VTS system measures tool dimensions through the processing of images taken by a CCD camera. Relevant parameters include length and diameter measurement, tool run-out, cutter radius, tool center, single cutter integrity, and thermal drift of machine axis. The VTS is capable of checking tools as small as 10-μm diameter, reaching repeatability values of 0.2 μm, thanks to a system resolution of 0.1 μm.

VTS measures tools while that are rotating at full spindle speed. The fact that the user doesn’t have to slow the spindle down to check the tool reduces presetting time and increases measuring accuracy. VTS can be also used to manually analyze tool surfaces. A continuous frontal light allows the operator to see the illuminated tool surface on a PC monitor, allowing an operator to evaluate cutter integrity.

The VTS unit is designed to be installed inside the machine working area and features a double protection system to provide high resistance to harsh machine environments. Pneumatic shutters cover and protect the optical lens when VTS is not working. Furthermore, an air flow from the optical window forms an air barrier that rejects chips and coolant drops, keeping shutter side clean and protecting the optical lens when the shutter is open.

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