The Tooling & Workholding Division of leading manufacturing technologies equipment supplier, YMT Technologies, recently announced the launch of the full range of Alfa-Sys products that are designed and fully developed to aid machine shops accurately and efficiently achieve the build-up and pre-setting of cutting tools. The Yeovil-based company is the exclusive UK and Eire agent for the complete Alfa-Sys range that is produced at the company’s impressive facility in Liechtenstein.
Supporting the end-to-end process of building and pre-setting cutting tools, the range starts with the Alfa-Clamp. This new tool assembly device provides a simple and elegant solution to the needs of machine shops trying to efficiently pre assemble the spindle tooling, cutting tool body and indexable inserts. The unit can be specified with 90o or 45o incremental locking points and is secured to a bench or work surface to provide a stable tooling assembly station. Quick-change spindle taper matched holders slide into the unit, with all popular designs, such as BT/CAT, Capto, HSK-A, VDI and KM tapers, available. Taking just a few seconds to change between different tapers will be crucial to any workshop operating a variety of machine tools, saving both time and capital expenditure.
Once assembled, the cutting tool can be accurately pre-set using one of the comprehensive range of Alfa-Set units. The pre-setters can be bench-top or free-standing, and feature contact free high accuracy vision systems to measure the exact location of each cutting tool insert, as well as the tip geometry. A TFT touch-screen provides measurement options, feedback and graphical confirmation.
Jason Short, YMT Technologies’ Tooling & Workholding Division Manager, states: “Tool pre-setting offers a number of advantages for any workshop. With accurate tooling offset data supplied to the CNC machine, programs can be run at an optimal level, knowing that components produced will be within tolerance. Tool wear is reduced and the structure of the machine tool has less chance of having to absorb extreme cutting forces.”
“From experience, we know a tool can be pre-set in around 3 minutes using the Alfa-Set units. This time saving, added to the previously stated benefits, results in a quantifiable cost saving for any manufacturing business. We can demonstrate savings of between £10,000 and £30,000 per year for shops running four or six machines.”
For bench-top users the Alfa-Set 33- and 35-Swift can measure tools up to 250 mm diameter by 380 mm long for the 33-Swift and 500 mm long for the 35-Swift. The 6 inch touch screen unit has fixed and floating crosshairs for automated measurements. All cutting edge profile data points, including any radii and angles, are measured and indicated within just 1 second. Measuring programs for radius, angle and distance can be loaded and up to 99 reference zero points can be set.
Offering even more functionality, the free-standing Alfa-Set 23/44/64 units can measure a comprehensive range of tool assemblies up to 600 mm diameter for the largest and up to an impressive 900 mm long. Like the Swift range these units are designed for ergonomic use and built for maximum mechanical stability. Tool loading and unloading is unimpeded and adjustments to the measurement settings can be carried out with just one hand.
A state-of-the-art high resolution CMOS camera with a fully developed image processing system is fitted as standard. With colour reflected light imaging used for automatic contour recognition and for inspection of the cutting edges. However, even more functionality can be specified with increased magnification options as well as measuring programs for the non-contact checking of fluted cutting tools.
An additional X-axis fixed camera with LED incident lighting can also be added to automate the measurement of the centre height on turning tools. To measure helical angle, wear, spacing and other axial and radial geometric data a second swivelling camera with incident lighting can be installed.
Finally, there is the Taper Cleaner. This easy to use device effectively cleans dried emulsion, cutting oils and other debris off the spindle contact surfaces with specifically designed brushes. As well as increasing the service life of the cutting edge of the tools keeping these areas clean increases runout accuracy. It also protects the spindle from long-term damage such as fretting.
“Any capital expenditure has to be justified, but we believe the quality and functionality of the Alfa-Sys range means it is one of the easiest to clearly highlight an impressive Return on Investment. For YMT to equip your tool pre-setting station with all the necessary elements is not prohibitively expensive and the ongoing savings will just keep accumulating,” Jason Short concludes.