This Chuck is Like an Airplane

The composite chuck is in the foreground with the dark-colored body.


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The composite chuck is in the foreground with the dark-colored body.
A comparable (heavier) all-metal chuck sits beside it.

Some shops have found themselves machining increasingly more composite material in addition to metal parts. Modern aircraft (among other products) make greater use of composite structures, in part because of the combination of high strength and light weight. With composites, a plane can deliver more payload and/or greater performance for a given rate of fuel consumption.

Workholding equipment supplier Hainbuch sees similar advantages in composite material. In addition to machining more composites, this company anticipates shops doing more machining with composites. Specifically, the company offers a chuck that replaces various large metal parts with composite.

The composite material in the chuck is comparable to composites used in aircraft, and it delivers comparable advantages. The chuck has less than half the mass of a comparable metal chuck, with no loss in reliability or holding strength. As a result, the power of the spindle can drive the chuck up to speed that much faster. Hainbuch says it’s reasonable to expect an existing lathe might accelerate the chuck to its machining speed in 30 percent less time, and decelerate to a stop in that much less time as well. In a 60-second turning cycle, the spindle acceleration and deceleration might account for 20 percent of the cycle time. If so, then replacing a metal chuck with the composite one could cut total cycle time by 6 percent. For parts made in production quantities, that time savings might constitute considerably more parts produced per year.

Energy savings are also significant, the company says. Few consider how much power consumption is necessary specifically to keep a 40- or 50-pound chuck spinning at hundreds or thousands of rotations per minute. However, quantifiable power savings result when the 17-pound composite chuck is used in its place. The corresponding reduction in machine tool wear and tear might not be as easy to quantify, but this, too, represents a likely potential source of savings.