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Intelligent Toolholder Controls Cutting in Real Time

Matt Panosh Group Manager Toolholding SCHUNK
By Matt Panosh Group Manager Toolholding, SCHUNK

Vibrations, chatter marks, and tool failure are all problems that can be prevented with intelligent monitoring and feedback systems. One such system is the smart iTENDO hydraulic expansion toolholder from SCHUNK and startup company Tool IT, a toolholder system that monitors the machining process directly at the tool and allows real-time control of the cutting parameters.

Schunk Smart Toolholder 768x432.jpg
The smart iTENDO toolholder enables real-time process monitoring and control directly in the tool.

The intelligent toolholders from SCHUNK were designed in cooperation with the Vienna University of Technology and Tool IT GmbH, Vienna. They employ integrated process monitoring directly where the chip is formed. SCHUNK calls this strategy “closest-to-the-part,” whereby the intelligence is integrated directly into the first wear-free element of machine equipment closest to the workpiece.

The smart tool is offered in combination with SCHUNK TENDO hydraulic expansion toolholders, allowing documentation of process stability, unmanned limit value monitoring, tool breakage detection, and real-time control of the speed of rotation and feed rate.

SCHUNK considers the iTENDO a milestone in toolholder technology. For the first time, the mechanical properties of the company’s flagship TENDO have been combined with the possibilities of digital process monitoring.

According to Friedrich Bleicher, managing board director of the Institute for Manufacturing Technology (IFT) at Vienna University of Technology and founder of Tool IT, the intelligent toolholder makes a unique synergy possible: “Embedded systems combine the highest degree of process transparency with the potential of autonomous process control without users having to do without the performance of proven precision toolholders,” he said.

Toolholders with integrated process intelligence have the same interfering contours as conventional toolholder mountings. Using coolant is still possible. Equipped with a sensor, battery, and transmitting unit, the intelligent system records the process directly in the tool and transmits the data wirelessly to a receiving unit in the machine room. From that unit, the data is transmitted via cable to a control unit, where the data is analyzed. An algorithm continuously determines the ideal parameters for process stability. Depending on the application, a web service can be used to define both the exact limits and corresponding reactions if they are exceeded. Process data remains within the closed control loop of the machine, ensuring data security.

During machining, the intelligent toolholder permanently analyzes the process. If it becomes unstable, it can either be stopped in real time and without the intervention of the operator, reduced to previously defined basic parameters, or adapted until the cut returns to a stable range. The system enables complete documentation and limit value monitoring as well as improved machining quality by automatically adjusting the cutting data during vibration. Moreover, the intelligent toolholders enable an analysis of the tool condition and allow the metal removal rate to be increased.

The system can be retrofitted without modifying or replacing machine components. Since the algorithms run in real time and the operator defines only exact limits and reactions, no expert assessment of the data is necessary. Instead, the system manages the process autonomously.

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