Article From: 2/13/2014 Production Machining, Chris Felix , Senior Editor
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Acquiring non-perishable tooling after a major machine purchase can require a large expenditure—one that is often uncomfortable for companies with limited budgets. In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace (especially in the middle of a questionable economy), this cash outlay might even be considered crippling. A quick-change system from WTO Inc. is aimed at addressing these concerns for leaders focused on conserving costs and improving productivity.
The QuickFlex quick-change system for driven toolholders is designed to save money in out-of-pocket tooling costs while reducing tool change time and providing greater flexibility. “Providing an ER collet chuck and quick-change system in one toolholder allows you to buy many fewer tools than you would have to otherwise,” says Anthony DeHart, director of sales and business development at WTO USA. “Best of all, this flexible system doesn’t compromise rigidity, performance or accuracy, which is great news for high precision contract manufacturers.”
Officially introduced in 2012, the system is now available for the North American market, offering a complete toolholder program for the most popular turning center models using bolt-on turrets.
Specifically, Mr. DeHart says, the base unit allows customers to clamp tools directly into the ER collet of the toolholder—no additional purchases necessary. If customers acquire additional types of tooling in the future, they can be accommodated by using the QuickFlex adapters, which are mounted directly into the base unit.
“The base unit comes in a straight (radial) or right angle (axial) configuration, which, combined with the range of adapters available, covers virtually any machining process requirement, all in a single system,” Mr. DeHart explains. “This approach enables the company to incrementally invest in a range of options with minimal initial capital requirements. It also accommodates the multiple setups and frequent change-overs that are required for the short manufacturing runs in today’s production environment.”
The system covers a range of different tool clamping adapter types and sizes and contributes to longer toolholder life. The modular design means that customers do not need to buy a complete quick-change system right away, but instead can begin by simply clamping the cutting tools directly into the toolholder using a standard ER collet.
For all manufacturers, time is money. The longer it takes to change from one tool to another, the longer production is paused. These setup delays can seriously cut into productivity and limit profits. QuickFlex’s cutting tools can be preset while the machine is operating, meaning that the setup time for tool change at the machine can be significantly reduced.
Designed for precision and performance, the system also provides quick tool change with its one-hand wrench, which is used to hold the QuickFlex spindle while the large collet nut is tightened with the spanner wrench. Adapters (which use the built-in thread nut) are tightened the same way.
The system is also designed for flexibility. While the toolholder can be used without a quick-change system, a quick-change function can be easily added. Adding quick-change adapters after the initial purchase can reduce tool change time even more dramatically. The complete quick starter kit includes three different adapters and a one-hand wrench set.
In the past, changing tools has been difficult, time consuming, and in some cases, risky. The QuickFlex system is designed to address these issues. “With QuickFlex, our goal was to develop a compact, simple and safe quick-change system for driven toolholders,” says Karlheinz Jansen, technical director and member of management, WTO GmbH.