Optimizing Machining System Accuracy

by | Jul 22, 2022

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A manufacturing shop can apply the best machine tools, toolholders and cutting tools, but bad parts or even machine crashes may result if the workpiece setup is not accurate. Every element in a machining system is important for success.

Precisely establishing workpiece location is a key consideration. Properly used, a mechanical edge finder can determine the location of the workpiece and the positions of features to be machined on it. A traditional mechanical edge finder requires that user clamp it in the machine spindle, bring the machine up to slow-rpm operation, then move the spindle slowly towards the workpiece until the edge finder tool touches the part. The measurement shown on machine control or digital readout at that point, however, does not indicate the actual position of the workpiece edge, because it doesn’t take into account the diameter of the edge finder tool itself. Final determination of part location requires the user to subtract half the diameter of the edge finder tool from the recorded measurement. The procedure is repeated in both x- and y-directions.

Mechanical edge detection is very common but is subject to a few problematic details. Starting the machine and moving it slowly to touch the workpiece consumes production time. A user has to be careful to run the machine spindle at a low-enough rpm; inadvertent high-speed approach to the workpiece will damage the edge finder and perhaps be a danger for shop personnel. And a very frequent error in the use of mechanical edge finders is neglecting to perform calculations to compensate for the tool’s diameter, significantly affecting the accuracy of the measurement.

With its comprehensive offering of top quality toolholding products, REGO-FIX focuses on helping customers achieve the highest levels of accuracy and repeatability. The company realizes, however, that its holders are always part of a machining system, and a key element of success is precise determination of workpiece position and features.

Accordingly, REGO-FIX recently introduced the 3D-EdgeMaster precision centering device. The tool provides fast and precise detection of reference edges, setting of the zero point and measuring with repeat accu­racy of ≤ 0.01 mm. Shops can also calibrate the measuring path, center the machine axis and determine bore centers. The device enables shops to adjust runout by setting the X-axis and Y-axis. It also has Z-axis capability to determine workpiece height. Designed to shorten setup time and improve precision, REGO-FIX provides both metric (16 mm shank) and inch (5/8″ shank) versions of the tool. The unit’s ceramic probe is engineered to fracture in the event of a minor crash, for easy replacement and to prevent damage to the instrument itself.

Compared to other edge finders, REGO-FIX designed the 3D-EdgeMaster with a number of detail features that reinforce its value. Each device is engraved with its own unique serial number and a QR code that enables a user to go to the REGO-FIX website and view product information and the unit’s individual inspection certificate. This is important if the original paper certificate is lost, especially when customers in high-precision industries such as aerospace and medical equipment production require certification of all measuring processes.

From an ergonomic point of view, the device is as small as possible for ease of handling, and it features milled surfaces for enhanced grip and appearance. The dial face is graphically organized for easy reading in shop conditions. The 3D-EdgeMaster is shock and splashproof in accordance with IP67 regulations.

Manufacturers should remember that the strengths of the individual elements of their shop systems add together to maximize productivity and profitability.