Automatic Monitoring And Adjustment System Matches Coolant Pressure To Tool Needs

Sponsored by Okuma. Custom software has been developed to automatically identify the tool currently in a machine's spindle and adjust the coolant pressure to the appropriate level.


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Die/mold shops constantly try to maintain a balance between cutting tool life, heat generation and cutting speeds. Recently, one die/mold shop required its Okuma MB-56V VMC to be set up with a high speed coolant interface with variable coolant pressure. Partners in THINC collaborators Okuma, ChipBLASTER and Caron Engineering worked together to create a solution that provides the capability to not only vary coolant pressure to match the tool, but also monitor coolant pressure and flow.

The ChipBLASTER interface originally allowed for 1,000 psi of steady coolant flow through the spindle for every tool. An alternative was to purchase a factory-preset option that offered a choice of four pressure settings (200, 500, 600 or 700 psi). However, the pressure presets could be changed only by a company service representative.

“It’s not always possible to drive coolant at 1,000 psi through every tool on a machine,” explains Ron Raniszewski, Okuma senior application engineer. “In fact, it’s impossible to do that through a 2-mm drill, for example. In addition to putting too much pressure on the tool, it’s a waste of energy at the coolant pump.”

Now coolant pressure can be matched to each tool in a machine. This was made possible by combining clever programming through the THINC-OSP control, use of the control’s application programming interface (API) and seamless Ethernet communication. Software developed by ChipBLASTER identifies the tool currently installed in a machine’s spindle and automatically changes the coolant pressure accordingly. This capability allows for an infinite number of pressures that can be selected for each tool that is installed in the machine spindle.

Coolant Pressure And Tool Wear

Caron Engineering, which provides software and engineering products to enhance CNC controls, developed an adaptive control system to monitor both coolant flow and pressure for the MB-56V VMC. Mark Munroe, the company’s national sales manager, explains that the next step in the process involved Caron’s Tool Monitoring Adaptive Control (TMAC):

“The data collection features of the TMAC system allow users to view historical data to determine wear issues,” Mr. Munroe says. “For example, an operator can compare what the coolant pressure and flow levels were when a tool started to draw excessive horsepower and then determine if those conditions are affecting tool wear. Adjustments can then be made to correct tool wear issues as needed.”

The partnering between Okuma, Caron Engineering and ChipBLASTER shows an example of how an infinite number of opportunities are available through crafty programming and the advantages of the Okuma THINC-OSP control.