Getting the most from your lathe live tooling
Investing in a new CNC lathe is a big step for any company, but often, toolholder selection is overlooked. Your new machine may come with a starter package consisting of two straight and two angle driven tools–including external coolant supply only.
This is a good starting point, but how can someone take full advantage of the new equipment and increase productivity? By quoting on jobs one couldn’t execute before, and by machining those parts in an economical and efficient fashion that couldn’t be offered before.
This is where modern high performance live tooling kicks in.
4 different approaches to higher productivity
1. Quick tool change
Reduce cycle time with quick tool changes within the machine. By using live tools with a real quick change system, you reduce machine set up time. This means less down time and more production.
Real quick change systems should not be confused with tools with interchangeable spindle adapters as those systems do not significantly reduce downtime.
Modern live tools clamp regular ER collets as well as adapters with pre-set tools in the same spindle. Don’t pay extra for quick change. It’s part of high quality standard toolholders these days.
2. Coolant through spindle toolholders and gear ratios
Reduce cycle time and cut material faster with coolant through the spindle toolholders.
Modern coolant through the spindle toolholders are sealed to maintain high coolant pressure over the full speed range.
This leads to maximum cooling of the cutting tool. High cutting performance, excellent surface finish and longer tool life are the result.
Think about higher gear ratios. Axial, radial and adjustable live tools can be made with higher gear ratios (1:2, 1:3 speed ratios).
Depending on the job, combine higher gear ratio with coolant through and you have maximum productivity and efficiency.
On the opposite side, increase torque by choosing a toolholder with gear reduction, for example, tapping applications.
3. Multiple toolholders
Modern CNC lathe turrets have 12, 16, 20 or 24 tool stations. Some machine models have two or even three turrets. The number of machining tasks increases with the number of cutting tools in the machine. In other words, the more tools in the lathe, the more operations without tool change that are possible, thus reducing cycle time.
High performance multiple live tools increase the number of cutting tools per turret station in the machine.
For machines with Y Axis and sub spindle, driven toolholders with up to eight tool spindles in one turret station are available. The result, again, is a gain in productivity through less downtime for tool changes.
4. Dedicated toolholders
Special jobs require special tools. In recent years, new types of live tools have emerged, such as adjustable drill/mill units for drilling at different angles, slitting saw units for cutting a spline or a slot, hobbing units with adjustable angles for hobbing gears (spur gears or helicoidal gears), and thread whirling units for screw production. They also offer easy quick change of the insert holder ring.
For broaching of inside and outside keyways or splines, and torx profiles, broaching units are standard live tools.
Modern live tooling is versatile and flexible. High performance live tools finish complex parts in one set up in the lathe.
They contribute to high quality end products at high productivity. Live tooling contributes greatly to the success of your business and shortens the ROI of your purchased equipment. SMT
Thomas Mittmann is owner of Mittmann Inc., exclusive Canadian importer of WTO GmbH.