Automated Tool Clamping, Measurement
This system combines tool presetting with tool clamping to automatically set, measure and clamp tools.
I’ve written about a number of different toolholding technologies. One is the PowRGrip toolholding system from Rego-Fix. This system consists of precision, collet-style toolholders and a benchtop hydraulic press used to insert or remove collets from the holders. R&G Precision Machining is one shop that uses this system, believing (as I describe in this story) it combines high clamping force with quicker, safer tool changes than shrink-fit systems. After clamping, R&G then takes completed tool assemblies to its Zoller presetter for measurement.
However, as I learned at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) last September, Rego-Fix and Zoller have since teamed up to create an automated solution that performs tool clamping with the PowRGrip and tool measurement with a Zoller Venturion 600 presetter, as is shown in this video. Once an operator installs a tool in a PowRGrip toolholder, the system will perform tool clamping (in less than 10 seconds), presetting and measurement without further operator intervention. This system works with tools that feature clamping diameters ranging from 0.2 to 25.4 mm, and length presetting repeatability is said to be less than 10 microns. It seems right up the alley for shops that are considering other automated processes, such as machine tending using robots.
The book on hydraulic toolholders is that they are fussy to set, fragile to operate and expensive to buy. So why do many shops choose them over other holders that seem less demanding? This Chicago mold builder has good reasons for its choice.
I’ve said that the toolholder is the least appreciated element in many milling processes, but the pull stud (or retention knob) is perhaps the least appreciated component of the toolholder.
Companies concerned about strict quality requirements regularly check toolholder tapers for wear or inaccuracy because these conditions can jeopardize the results of a critical operation. However, a shop can check tapers quickly and reliably with air gages. These devices can be used effectively without special operator training. For measuring taper in a production environment, few other methods can match the speed and performance of air, as multiple-circuit air jets can be placed in very small taper gages.