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Forkardt Acquires Soft-Touch Workholding IP for Thin-Walled Parts

Designed by General Manufacturing Systems, the technology is said to accommodate machining of aluminum die-cast materials and thin-walled components where part deformation is a concern.

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Forkardt Inc., a division of Hardinge and provider of custom workholding products, has acquired the intellectual property (IP) of Soft-Touch technology assets from General Manufacturing Systems, a workholding supplier in Saginaw, Michigan. With Soft-Touch, Forkardt strengthens its portfolio for challenging applications in the automotive and aerospace markets, such as for the machining of aluminum die-cast materials and thin-walled components where part deformation is a concern.

To meet the evolving demands of increasingly electrified vehicle platforms and rising demand for increased fuel efficiency, manufacturers and suppliers in the automotive, aerospace, maritime and rail industries are racing to design and produce lighter, more efficient vehicles and components, Forkardt says. But these flexible, thin-walled parts can easily distort under the pressure of normal machining and have a higher risk of bending or deforming in the clamping process. 

“Soft-Touch is a critical technology that allows Forkardt to address the changing needs of the market and strengthen our capabilities around advanced materials,” says Chris Brown, global product manager at Forkardt

With the Soft-Touch acquisition, Forkardt will now provide workholding technology designed for thin-walled parts made of advanced materials for which part deformation is a concern. The chuck design allows clamp fingers to conform to a part's natural, as-processed contour. Coupled with regulated clamping pressure, the resulting force dynamics actually give rigidity to fragile and delicate parts, the company says.

“The Soft-Touch technology that I created has a bladder which expands to grasp a part, matching the component’s irregular shape,” explains Gerry Mueller, CEO of General Manufacturing Systems. “This innovation meets the needs of manufacturers looking for distortion-free workholding and aligns perfectly to Forkardt’s automotive and aerospace target market needs.”

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