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Rummaging in the IMTS Tool Box for Tooling Solutions

Jim Lorincz
By Jim Lorincz Contributing Editor, SME Media

One thing remains clear about IMTS 2018: Solutions to virtually every conceivable tool holding or workholding challenge could be found, if visitors to the exposition took the time to walk aisle after aisle in search the latest advanced technology, whether in the supplier’s booth or at work on machines in builder booths. With leadtimes stretching out for machines, suppliers of much needed tooling and fixturing find themselves in the enviable position of being in demand to tool up new machines, as well as legacy equipment, to meet the resurgent manufacturing market. Yes, the economy continues to be good, job shops and production contract manufacturers order books are bulging, and there is a nagging need for a qualified and skilled workforce. A walk through the Tooling and Workholding Pavilion was eye opening and rewarding. Here are some examples why that was a walk well worth taking.

Engineering Solutions and Augmented Reality

“Engineering solutions and customer products go hand in hand,” said Rob Keenan, president, Seco Tools LLC (Troy, MI). “We’ve scanned the world for the Best in Class solutions for our customers.” Newly introduced Seco unveiled its new consultancy service which provides three layers of Manufacturing Efficiency Evaluation for its customers: machining process, manufacturing systems, and manufacturing environment. Seco has partnered with Machining Metrics to implement machine monitoring in its own manufacturing facility where it does a lot of five-axis machining. Services to its customers include helping them capture and evaluate data to evaluate their processes holistically including workholding, work flow, coolant systems, material handling as well as the cutting performance. Visiting Seco’s booth was a real trip using AR (augmented reality) glasses. Wearing AR glasses, you could look at any product category in the booth and have all the pertinent information, videos etc. displayed. New Seco products included the Double QuattroMill 22 which was introduced for roughing and semi-finishing milling of a range of materials including steel and cast iron, 15-5 stainless and superalloys like titanium and Inconel. Other products included Perfomax indexable insert drills with improved helix angles, smoother chip flute exits and wave design that minimizes contact between chips and flute surfaces, the company said.

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Rego-Fix’s powRgrip toolholding system and Zoller’s Smile 420 tool presetter and measuring system were combined with and attended by a Universal Robot to create an automated cell.

Automating Presetting, Tool Holding

Rego-Fix Tool Corp. (Indianapolis, IN) exhibited its powRgrip toolholding system and its full line of technology solutions, including the secuRgrip anti-pullout toolholding system and devices like intRlox Mini-Nuts, and reCool retrofitable coolant-through system for live or static tooling. powRgrip toolholding is a way for shops to expand capacities that are stretched by improving surface finish, reducing tool life and improving part quality, according to Bill Obras, vice president sales and marketing. “A real sweet spot for powRgrip technology is found in the medical industry for micromachining and microdrilling orthopaedic devices,” he said. In partnership with Zoller Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI), Rego-Fix demonstrated how its powRgrip toolholding system could be integrated with a Zoller Smile 420 tool presetting and measuring machine to create an automated cell tended by a Universal Robot in an Industry 4.0 friendly configuration. Rego-Fix celebrated 30 years in the U.S. with special edition powRgrip machine, the PGC hand pump machine and the PGU automatic. The manual PGC machine will be offered at an affordable price with special starter packages of toolholding as an entry to smaller job shops. The automatic PGU machines sported a specially painted look for the Wounded Warriors program.

High-Volume Efficient Tapping

Emuge Corp. exhibited its Punch Tap which was originally developed in partnership with Audi AG, making it especially well-suited to high-volume applications like automotive. “The Emuge Punch Tap is designed for helical thread forming in cast and wrought aluminum alloys and similar lightweight materials,” said Bob Hellinger, president. “Punch Taps provide a new, shortened tool path process for producing internal threads in under half a second, resulting in significantly less energy consumption during the machining process and a reduction in threading time by 75% compared to cold forming and conventional taps,” he said. Prior to the threading operation, the tool quickly punches into a pre-drilled hole and the first tooth of each flute produces a helical groove which assists in guiding the tap to the application depth. Once the depth is reached, threading commences by cold forming with a synchronous movement of feed and rotation. The thread is produced with a half left-turn in the pitch, and each tooth of the Emuge Punch Tap produces half a thread (approximately 180°). After the threads have been formed, the Punch Tap is retracted in a helical movement from the hole via the grooves. The finished cold-formed thread is interrupted by two helical grooves offset by 180 degrees. The Punch Tap fits precisely with an Emuge PT-Synchro Punch Tap Holder. Force-locked rigid clamping via a cylindrical ER collet provides high torque. Also, Emuge has partnered with the leaders in CAM software solutions to develop a family of carbide end mills called Circle Segment tools. These tools have unique cutting edge geometry that allows five-axis programmers to maximize their cutter path effectiveness. Emuge’s portfolio of high-performance taps, drills, end mills and other rotary tools were also exhibited.

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The HARVI Ultra 8X by Kennametal Inc. roughs Ti-6Al-4V titanium at a rate of 1,000 cm3 (61 cubic inches) per minute.

Cutter for Aero Alloys

Kennametal Inc. (Latrobe, PA) displayed the HARVI Ultra 8X at IMTS, which it says rough Ti-6Al-4V titanium at a rate of 1,000 cm3 (61 cubic inches) per minute. Using a 95 mm (3.74 in.) axial depth of cut, 200 mm (0.78 in.) radially, and a feed rate of 423 mm/min (16.65 ipm), the 80 mm (3.15 in.) diameter HARVI Ultra 8X steadily difficult aerospace superalloy for nearly three minutes in a test cut. Tim Marshall, senior global product manager for indexable milling, has tested the HARVI Ultra 8X with a variety of customers and materials, from 15-5 PH to cast iron to Aermet 100 (high strength steel). “Kennametal developed the HARVI Ultra 8X to meet two distinct needs,” Marshall said. “The first came from the aerospace industry. At the same time, machine tool builders and users alike are asking for tools able to withstand higher cutting speeds but generate lower machining forces, so as to reduce wear and tear on machine components during extreme cutting conditions.”

Kennametal also introduced a vibration-free boring system that uses a serrated, bolt-on connection that clamps a variety of styles and sizes of indexable heads. The heads are coolant-fed and direct a stream of high-pressure coolant for chip control together and maximum cooling in the cutting zone. The internal dampener is a mass that’s supported by a pair of elastic supports, inside of which sits a dampening fluid. The mass vibrates at a predetermined frequency during machining, attenuating the natural frequency of the bar around it to suppress vibration. The system accommodates boring applications up to 10X diameter deep.

Complete Toolholding Solutions

At a joint technical conference with Starrag USA (Hebron, KY) on the Sunday before IMTS, Haimer President Brendt Holden, detailed the developments that have helped Haimer extend its portfolio of tool holding solutions. Haimer acquired Microset tool presetting technology, which complements its existing portfolio of toolholding solutions and as a result added the UNO entry-level Microset presetter and V10 Linear to its product categories. The Haimer portfolio of products includes shrink fit, balancing technology, tool management logistics as well as 3D measuring devices and solid carbide cutting tools. The latest development in Haimer’s lengthy strategic partnership with Boeing involves sponsoring a joint membership at OMIC R&D (the Oregon Manufacturing Center R&D) for research in advanced machining. The partnership between Boeing and Haimer reaches back more than 10 years when the Haimer Safe-Lock system became the Boeing Portland standard for roughing in milling. With one of the largest titanium machining shops in the world, Boeing Portland has set the standard for cutting tools and tool holder applications. Due to its technology advantages, Haimer implemented an open licensing policy where additional American and other cutting tool makers offer this technology as a standard solution which are widely used in the Boeing machining operations. In fact, the Boeing Co. has also received an IP, patent and trade mark license from Haimer to be able to quickly respond to their machining needs for this innovative technology.

Productivity Building Lathe Products

Heimatec Inc. (Prospect Heights, IL) exhibited new product lines for Swiss machines and expanded sizes for its angle head product lines. The core of Heimatec’s business area involves high-end multitasking lathes with one, two, or three turrets. Its products are especially well-suited for sophisticated multitasking machining for medical devices as well as smaller aerospace parts like connectors done on smaller machines. Heimatec offers angle heads that allow the manufacturer to machine more part features on one machine more productively. One of its newest offerings are spindle speed increases that allow achieving speeds of up to 40,000-50,000 rpm on slower machines. Heimatec’s new line of live and static tools for Swiss-type CNC automatic lathes are optimized to the required machine parameters for automotive components, screws and pins for the medical industry or precision parts for electrical engineering.

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SW Autoblok’s APS Zero Point Clamping System.

5-Sided Machining Vises

SMW Autoblok (Wheeling, IL) highlighted the GENIUS and SINTEX precision vises for 5-axis machine tools in its booth at IMTS 2018. Both vises are equipped with SMW Autoblok’s proprietary SinterGrip technology. Instead of clamping a large surface area of the workpiece like most systems, the SinterGrip technology on the SINTEX precision vise requires only 3.5 mm of clamping surface. This clamping design allows for obstruction-free processing of all five sides of the workpiece and minimizes deformation risk. A series of solid carbide serrated inserts grip the workpiece securely that vibration is virtually eliminate vibration.

The company also displayed its APS Zero Point Clamping System. The APS (Automatic Positioning System) is the latest addition to SMW Autoblok’s new line of stationary workholding products. It is a universal connection between the machine tool, the clamping device and/or the workpiece. The APS can be used in turning, milling, measuring, or grinding operations. With an emphasis on flexibility and speed, users can realize a reduction in set-up times of up to 90%.

Also on display was the BP Series Chuck. A sealed chuck with a large through hole, the BP Series combines the flexibility of a standard open center power chuck with the long life and precision of the company’s Proofline sealed chucks. This makes the BP Series Chuck appropriate for bar and bar stock clamping as well as shaft clamping. Available in three sizes, the BP is sealed from outside contaminants. This allows it to maintain a constant grip force for excellent repeatability and consistency as well as safer operation, whereas non-sealed chucks can lose more than 50% of the grip force if not maintained properly, according to SMW Autoblok.

Versatile Precision Workholding Systems

Hainbuch America Corp. (Germantown, WI) exhibited its Spanntop high-precision workholding system and its centroteX quick-change chuck system. The Spanntop high-precision workholding system offers users the option of converting the basic chuck for OD, ID and three-jaw clamping operations with a changeover time of two minutes or less. Both Spanntop and ToPlus chucks for turning are low profile chucks that are well-suited for tool room application. Hainbuch’s workholding systems feature high-precision chucks designed for the fast change of collets, bushings, jaws, and other clamping devices. The centroteX chuck changeover system was demonstrated on an Okuma CNC lathe at IMTS, facilitating the fast and easy changeover of the entire chuck. This not only increases the range of part diameters that can be machined, but extends the capability of the machine tool in terms of process variability. It allows workholding devices to be quickly and accurately mounted on multiple milling and turning machines within a shop. At the heart of the centroteX system is a precision-machined adaptor/flange plate aligned with centroteX interface, equipped with a bayonet mount and a drawtube adapter. This in turn accommodates an extensive variety of chucks and holding devices that are easily connected and locked by six simple fasteners. Changeover time of the centroteX system is typically less than five minutes, while maintaining repeatability and changeover accuracy of < 0.002 mm.

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John Zaya demonstrated how Big Kaiser’s Unilock stabilizing system is able to hold workpieces of uncommon shape and size so that they can be machined vibration and chatter-free. Various types of clamping hold the UniLock to the table.

Digital Boring Tools

Big Kaiser (Hoffman Estates, IL) exhibited its Industry 4.0 friendly digital tooling—EWA and EWE finish boring heads. The EWA system features closed-loop, automatic adjustment of diameter by receiving commands wirelessly from the machine control or after the gaging process and a bore diameter correction is required. EWA boring heads are capable of self-adjusting to micron precision and have a large work range so that one tool can perform multiple sizes of bores. EWE fine boring heads also feature a digital display to show incremental movement of the cutting edge. They use Bluetooth technology to wirelessly connect to the Big Kaiser app. When used together, application information is combined with data from the boring head to show the expected output from the tool and guide operators to make a diameter correction based on the tolerance and the last measured bore produced by the tool. Color-coded dimensions give operators a visual cue when the tool is back in tolerance and ready to continue production, decreasing the risk of adjustment errors. The range of EWE boring heads has been expanded to include ultra-small diameter boring heads, completing the system for all sizes of tools.

Proper tightening is an important first step of high-precision cutting. Big Kaiser’s Torque Fit notifies the user of a correctly set torque value via an audible buzzer. If overtightening occurs, the error LED light will flash. The Torque Fit was developed to replace multiple torque wrenches and has adapters available for all common machine tool interfaces such as CAT, BT, SK, HSK and BIG CAPTO. For maximum convenience, torque values for all Big Kaiser-made collet chucks are preset. The operator can, however, use a generic setting to tighten any collet chuck with a torque value up to 80 N//pd//m.

Jet Whirling, Sintered Carbide Machining

Along with a number of new products, Horn USA (Franklin, TN) exhibited its Jet Whirling system with internal coolant delivery for Swiss-style lathes and machining solid carbide with CVD-D tipped tools. The Jet Whirling tooling combination of conical face with cylindrical collar achieves higher accuracy in the interface as well as the easy replacement of inserts with three screws. Drilling, milling, grooving and turning features and contours in sintered carbide without pretreatment or subsequent treatment isn’t possible with standard tooling. Horn’s CVD-D tipped tools are capable of machining with defined cutting edges from sharp to rounded with chamfers ranging from positive to negative for roughing and fine finishing of sintered carbide. Drilling in solid carbide up to 10xD eliminates the need for long EDMing.

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Jergens 130 Vice and QL Pallet

Self-Centering Vise and Narrow Vise  

Jergens Inc. (Cleveland) introduced two new vises to its range of quick-change workholding systems—a 130 mm self-centering vise and a new narrow vise. Both vises offer numerous features and  provide reliable performance for general purpose machining. The 130 mm self-centering  vise, part of the Fixture Pro line of  modular five-axis workholding, features a pull-down jaw design to actively reduce jaw lift caused by flex and raising up during the clamping process. The unique vise has an easy centering/re-centering adjustment and quick-change jaws  that require no tools. Jaws are reversible and available in step jaws with serrated inserts, aluminum soft jaws, steel soft jaws and hardened step jaws. Versatile mounting options are compatible with several Jergens platforms, including Fixture Pro, Drop & Lock, Quick-Loc, Lang Quick Point and 5th Axis  RockLock. Maximum clamping force is 3,600 lbs @ 50 ft*lbs. In combination with the full-line of Quick Loc pallet systems, the new vise offers versatility and quick-change  on vertical, horizontal and multi-axis machining centers. Jergens new narrow vise  is ideal for mounting to Jergens Ball Lock fixture plates to provide solid  performance in numerous general-purpose applications.

Documenting Customers’ Savings

MSC Industrial Supply Services (Melville, NY) has saved customers $400 million over the past two years.

“We provide technical expertise, so they buy the right tools,” said Steve Baruch, executive vice president and chief strategy and marketing officer for MSC Industrial Supply.

MSC sells taps, dies, drills, milling and other equipment as well as janitorial, safety and lighting equipment. MSC shows customers how they can save money. MSC documents the savings and customers sign on to the figures.

“The need for more information continues to grow,” Baruch said. MSC also supplies technical information on its website for customers to consult.

Lubricant Leaves Spotless Surfaces

Blaser Swisslube Inc.  (Goshen, NY) markets lubrication products and its new entry, Synergy 735, is described by the company as leaving “spotless surfaces thanks to neutral pH–even with sensitive aluminum alloys.” The company says Synergy 735 is “suitable for precision cleaning due to outstanding rinse behavior and easy cleanability” and has “excellent tramp oil separation and filterability down to 1 micron.” The lubricant is clear, water miscible and oil-free.

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