As machinists we are all aware of the standard tools of our trade; however, there are other non-standard tools available - that not everyone is aware of - that could be very helpful in our day-to-day life in the shop. Just like any other industry, if there is a time consuming and mundane procedure that must be completed, you can bet that somewhere there is someone who has already invented a tool or device that would make that task easier…if we only knew where to go to find those tools.
A few areas where these non-standard devices could be helpful are: workholding, fixture building, part and tool setup, coolant nozzles, etc... I hope you find the links provided, and the product descriptions below helpful; and they give you some new resources when looking for products that can make your job a little bit easier.
Part & Tool Setup:
Edge Technology is a company based in Tucson Arizona, that offers a nice variety of setup aids that can help you when touching off tools, centering a boring bar on a lathe, or tramming the head on your old Bridgeport mill. They also have a variety of quality vise stops – both stationary, and mechanical – and even have a magnetic leveling attachment for a tapping handle to keep the tap straight when hand tapping. www.edgetechnologyproducts.com
SDA Manufacturing, located in Piedra California, offers a handy laser edgefinder that mounts in a collet or toolholder and shines a pinpoint sized red dot on your workpiece. It can be used to locate a spot on the face of a part, or used to find the exact edge of the workpiece. The device could also be clamped in a lathe turret, and used as a reference for locating and positioning chuck jaws - so you don’t have to count the serrations…a task that only gets more difficult with age! www.lasercenteredgefinder.com
Fixture Building & Workholding:
Mitee-Bite Products offers a lot of do-it-yourself fixture clamps, pallets, vacuum plates, and other nifty products to help you with your workholding needs. I especially like their new VersaGrip products – a set of vise jaws that make fixturing round or odd shaped parts quick and easy. www.miteebite.com
Everyone has heard of Kurt Manufacturing 6” and 8” vises, and there is at least one in every shop on the planet; but when it comes to smaller precision workholding options – especially for 5-axis applications – there are some other very good, but lesser known options that really are worth a look.
Raptor Workholding Products is based in Simi Valley California, and has a fantastic line of high quality and accurate dovetail fixture options…for single part applications, or multi-part setups. www.raptorworkholding.com
Lang Technovation, in Hartland Wisconsin, is a well respected manufacturer of first class workholding equipment, and zero-point clamping systems. Their Macro-Grip vise jaws offer a non-traditional method of locating the workpiece, without the need for a mechanical stop – the part can be crimped in a hydraulic fixture, and then aligned with teeth serrations on the jaws themselves to locate the part. www.lang-technovation.com
Lang also offers a very innovative set of vise jaws, called the Vario-Tec Accesory Jaws. These jaws have small hardened pins in the face of the jaw, that can be pushed in, or pulled out, that offer a variety of workpiece locating options and accessories.
Coolant Nozzles & Systems:
QPM Products, located in Canada, manufactures coolant nozzles and related accessories for use on CNC lathes, machining centers, grinders, screw machines, manual equipment, and assorted production equipment. If you need a coolant nozzle for almost any purpose, the chances are good that QPM will have what you need. www.qpmproducts.com
Located in South Windsor Connecticut Spider Cool programmable coolant systems offers a solution for poorly positioned coolant streams when machining. The unit can be “taught” for each tool independently, and the nozzle will automatically reposition when a particular tool is changed into the spindle. The programming unit can be integrated easily with the machine control, and is very simple to use…with the desired tool in the spindle, simply jog the nozzle to the necessary position and press the knob to teach that position. It’s just that simple! There is also an oscillating option for longer tools, or when drilling deep holes. www.spidercool.com