Miniature Tooling System Big on Swiss Turning


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The use of Swiss-type sliding headstock machines for processing medical parts continues to grow. The work involves very intricate high-precision machining that has been placing an increased emphasis on tooling setups and change-over times.

Swiss-type machine tooling change-overs can take just as long, if not longer, than they do on conventional CNC turning machines. Shops running Swiss-type machines typically contend with full-day change-overs. One machine can include as many as 42 different toolholders, and the tools are much smaller (ER 16 and ER 11). Additionally, a lot more tooling positions need to be filled—on average 36 tooling positions, as compared with the basic 12 positions on a standard-sized CNC turning machine turret.

One way shops running conventional CNC turning machines shorten change-over times, ease tool setups, increase toolholding precision and reduce overall tooling costs is through the use of modular tooling systems. However, for medical shops and others running Swiss-type machines, finding a system that combines the precision benefits of traditional modular tooling systems into a configuration compact enough to work effectively in the small spaces of a Swiss-type machine has been difficult. But the Exsys Eppinger Deco-Flex modular tooling system addresses this exact concern, offering a compact design that allows shops to do full setup change-overs in 20 minutes or less on Swiss-type machines.

The tooling system incorporates a tooling interface designed specifically for the tight spaces within Swiss-type machines. It offers the same benefits as Exsys Eppinger standard-sized modular systems, but for the production of small, high-precision components such as those found in the medical industry.

In addition to its compact size, the system offers shops faster setup change-overs, more precise and rigid toolholding, flexibility and reduced tooling costs. Individual tool change-outs are simple and take only seconds thanks to the system’s mounting adapters.

Making the Change

To load a tool, shops simply wipe the particular Deco-Flex mounting adapter’s bearing surface and intended spindle surface and insert the adapter. The mounting adapter is then rotated about 30 degrees to a stop and is locked into position with a 3-mm hex wrench turned 45 degrees to either lock or unlock the adapter.

Along with mounting adapters, the system uses holders that are mounted into and dedicated to specific brands of Swiss-type machines as well as to Deco-Flex tooling. These holders provide three stations that accept the various system mounting adapters.

Whole machine setups—full tooling change-over and one part produced—can be done in about 20 minutes, as opposed to the typical 4, 6, or even 8 hours the task usually takes. The system’s speed comes from the fact that Deco-Flex system toolholders can remain in the machine, and shops simply use the system mounting adapters for plug-and-play capability. Shops also bypass the time-consuming operation of tool touch-off sequences that otherwise would delay making chips.

The conical and flat-face interfaces guarantee the best possible concentricity and repeatability, no matter how many times tools are installed and removed. Shops can remove and replace tools knowing that tool positioning accuracy will repeat from one to another within 3 microns to centerline and that tool runout will be less than 0.0004 inch at 1.250 inches from system face. Adapters and tools can also be set up off-line, as well as cutter stop lengths, to further slash setup time.

What’s Available

Exsys offers Deco-Flex mounting adapters for Weldon-shank tooling diameters from 3 mm to 10 mm, as well as ranges of ER 11 M and ER 16 M standard collet chucks, collet chucks with inside nuts in the ER 8 range, and mounting adapters for press fit tooling, drills, setup fixtures, test mandrels and straight shank interfaces. Setup fixtures are also available to aid off-line toolsetting, as are machine tool interfaces for ISO DIN 69871 (SK) JIS-B 6639 (MAS/BT) DIN 69893 (HSK), and straight shank.

For increased tooling flexibility, specific mounting adapters can be combined with either fixed or rotary toolholders. Additionally, instead of using the standard collets in their Swiss-style machines, shops now have the option to use the Deco-Flex system’s adapters to increase both tool rigidity and longevity while adding the capability to take more aggressive cuts without the risk of tool spin or slippage.

However, shops that opt to use standard collets or standard tooling can continue to do so with what they have on hand because the system does not require special collets or any other type of special tooling. Without the need for additional tooling for the system, tooling inventories can remain in check.