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Modular Quick-Change Systems Not Created Equal

Scott Leitch Sales/Marketing Manager EXSYS Tool Inc.
By Scott Leitch Sales/Marketing Manager, EXSYS Tool Inc.

While the initial investment for a modular quick-change tooling system is higher than that of traditional toolholders, significantly improving the connection between spindles and tooling is well worth it. Modular systems increase production efficiency because they eliminate the need to remove and re-indicate toolholders with every tool or part change. This translates into shorter setup times and an immediate impact on a shop’s bottom line.

A Range of Adapters

Modular quick-change tooling systems typically incorporate a range of adapters engineered to hold a variety of cutting tool types and shank designs. But not all modular quick-change tooling systems are the same. There are specific features and capabilities a shop should look for to ensure it receives the most performance for its money.

Accuracy is key when machining. Quick-change tooling systems are well worth the investment because they enhance accuracy. Without a quick-change system, operators are forced to load as much tooling as they can in the machine’s turret because it takes too long for tool changeovers when completing parts in one clamping. But with quick-change, operators easily process parts complete because changing out additional tools as needed is a simple process that not only reduces part cycle times, but also eliminates the potential for human error.

Productivity Helps Shops Decide

Manufacturers that make the switch from a familiar collet system to a quick-change system typically find they are much more productive. With quick-change, shops have the option of using a collet in the toolholder, or they may use an adapter system.

When considering a quick-change system, choose one with an adapter that can be used with the widest range of available cutting tools. For example, an adapter allows a machinist to use a standard collet. This is helpful for operators accustomed to the collet system. Or, the collet can be integrated with the quick-change system through versatile adapter systems for different types of toolholding. For shops that must purchase different tooling for several machines, a quick-change system saves them money by expanding their existing machines’ capabilities.

In addition, quick-change systems save capital because of their changeability. Assuming manufacturers choose tooling that will always have the same interface on the front working area, an adapter can run the same production process on different machines because all dimensions are based off of the cone interface of the collet. This is only possible if the collet pocket is the same size.

Internal Designs Play a Key Role

Adapters and tooling interfaces are among the external features to consider for a quick-change system. But what about internal designs? Buyers should focus on systems with mono-block housings.

In this streamlined design, one piece of steel houses everything—from spindles to gears to collet chucks. The benefit of a system with a mono-block housing versus a split housing is that one piece of steel absorbs the energy entering the machined material. In a split-housing design, set screws and dowel pins hold the housing together. If the cutting tool moves due to heat, it will cause the toolholder to run off center.

Modular quick-change tooling systems with a range of adapters that hold various cutting tools and shanks can cut setup and changeover times from hours to minutes. Using them offers cost-savings—from less machine time to decreased tooling costs—making quick-change systems a sound long-term investment.

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