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 and could be very helpful in our day-to-day life in the job 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.
Here is a list of helpful products for machinists that addresses workholding, fixture building, part and tool setup, coolant nozzles and more:
Part AND 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 a magnetic leveling attachment for a tapping handle to keep the tap straight when hand tapping.
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 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!
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 VersaGrip products: a set of vise jaws that make fixturing round or odd-shaped parts quick and easy.
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.
Lang Technovation, in Hartland, Wisconsin, is a well-respected manufacturer of first-class workholding equipment and zero-point clamping systems. Their Makro-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, then aligned with teeth serrations on the jaws themselves to locate the part.
Lang also offers a very innovative set of vise jaws called the Vario-Tec Accessory 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 AND SYSTEMS
QPM Products, located in Vernon, B.C., 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, chances are QPM will have what you need.
Located in South Windsor, Connecticut, Spider Cool programmable coolant systems offer 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.
You'll find more helpful resources, such as training videos and webinars, at Hurco Connect.
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