From Universal Tool Clamping to Automated Presetting
The opening of Rego-Fix's new U.S. headquarters caps a long series of developments in precision tool clamping technology.
Officially unveiled in Whitestown, Indiana, during a May 5th ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rego-Fix’s new U.S. headquarters facility includes all the usual—office space, a storage area, space for training and machining demonstrations, and so forth. It also includes some of the not-so-usual, such as workout facilities for employees. There’s plenty of space left over, too, as the company continues efforts to expand sales, service and support on this side of the Atlantic. The Swiss company had certainly outgrown its previous location here in the states, but at 20,000 square feet, this one is more than twice the size. It can reportedly accommodate more than twice the inventory of the previous location, even prior to the potential addition of a mezzanine level later. The lot has space to expand the building by another third if needed as well.
Rego-Fix is perhaps most renowned for its 1972 invention of the ER collet, which has since become a staple in shops around the world. Other notable tool clamping milestones include the development of the PowRgrip, a clamping system that works mechanically rather than hydraulically or via heat, as well as the reCool system, which is designed to add coolant-through capability to existing turning tool stations. However, talking to representatives also clarified the importance of continued innovation during the time between major releases—that is, improvements to or novel applications of already established products and technologies.
One of the most recent examples arose from the company’s partnership with Zoller, which offers tool presetting and measuring devices that are highly complementary to Rego-Fix’s own technology. After all, securing tools in their holders with a system like the PowRgrip goes only so far if those tools aren’t measured to ensure correct offsets. Thanks to recent work between the two companies, these machines can now be integrated into one unit to automate the process of presetting, clamping and measuring tools. Although neither are brand new systems, this capability can be significant for, say, a high-volume automotive manufacturer that desires an alternative to heat-shrink technology but doesn't want to give up automated presetting and clamping.
The process is simple (here’s a video). The tool is installed in a PowRgrip toolholder mounted in the receiver of the Venturion and measured, just as it would be on a standalone system. During the measurement, the tool moves up and down within the holder and collet on a set screw until mounted properly. The system offers length presetting repeatability of less than 10 microns. With the tool’s position established, the PowRgrip unit clamps it securely into place in less than 10 seconds. Runout is reportedly less than 3 microns. Another quick measurement on the Venturion verifies the tool assembly prior to its installation in the machine.
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.
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