What Is Automatic Rotary Table?

Posted on Jan 3, 2021

Automatic Rotary Table

Automatic rotary tables have a large range of applications, for example, in manufacturing or inspection stages of sophisticated components in the aerospace, automotive, and other scientific industries. When it comes to automatic rotary tables, they are tables that are motorized and equipped with a CNC system.

What Is a Rotary Table?

A rotary table is an accessory that performs high precision positioning for a variety of metalworking applications. Widely used in advanced machining, the operators can perform drilling, milling, cutting, and other jobs at exact intervals on the axes in a horizontal or vertical structure. To achieve a high level of accuracy and efficiency, many operators install index plates or dividing plates to work with the basic rotary tables. With the help of these accessories, the rotary tables can be more versatile for indexing applications and enhance precision when machining by positioning the materials at divisions on the dividing plates. 

Rotary tables are more widely mounted flat with the rotations around the vertical axis. The arrangement is the same as the structure of working planes and milling cutters in the vertical type of milling machine. In another setup, the rotary table is mounted on a 90° angle plate and the rotation will be performed on the horizontal axis. The tailstock can be utilized to grip the workpiece between centers. Rotary tables can be used in a wide range of applications, such as machining spanner flats, cutting straight, arcs, curves, circular pieces, drilling holes, milling helix, and so on. By adding a compound table or X-Y table on the rotary table, the operators can adjust the center freely, allowing cutting to perform at any desired position on the surfaces.

Automatic Rotary Table & CNC Machining Center

Automatic rotary tables, or CNC rotary tables, have a large range of applications, for example, in the manufacturing or inspection stages of sophisticated components in the aerospace, automotive, and other scientific industries. When it comes to automatic rotary tables, they are tables that are motorized and equipped with a CNC system. Automatic rotary tables are also preferred devices widely applied in CNC machining centers to act as the fourth axis since they can precisely locate the parts with different angles, helping the machine tools to perform multiple face machining at one time

In a normal machining center that has 3 axes, the three linear axes include X, Y, Z-axis. The Z-axis is the one aligned with the main axis of the 3-axis machining centers. While the X-axis works in the vertical direction, the Y-axis represents the horizontal working direction. The rotary table can replace the fourth axis in machining centers which is the rotational axis 180° around the linear lathe axis. With a CNC motor, the automatic rotary tables can increase the flexibility of metalworking applications without additional human supervision. For example, this configuration that involves an automatic rotary table machining center can be applied to helical grooves producing, blade machining, and more. 

:: Read more: An Introduction to Powered Rotary Table

Construction of Automatic Rotary Table

The core components of an automatic rotary table include the supporting disc where the metal pieces are clamped during cutting, a solid base which is the connecting element to another larger table, or machines like a drill press and milling machines, the CNC motor. The table disc acts as the spinning surface on which the workpieces are positioned and clamped. The chuck can grip the workpieces, and the dial indicator can be helpful when checking if the chuck and pieces are centered. After mounting the chuck with bolts, critically calibrating and locating the jobs on the table, the disc is ready for rotation under the control of the CNC motor. The indexing plate or dividing plate can be added in most types of disc. When the CNC controller and the CNC motor provide inputs, the rotation of the worm gear is activated and the mating gear mounted beneath the table surface begins to spin, either. The worm gears perform the precise rotations of the rotary table and every part of the disc are critically calibrated in degrees. 

Different Types of CNC Motors 

The motors in an automatic rotary table can determine the router's precision and overall efficiency. The two classes of CNC motors used in automatic rotary tables are the stepper motors and the servo motors. Differences between servo motors and stepper motors lie in the overall pole count. Servo motors have a lower pole count (from 4 to 12) than stepper motors (between 50 and 100). 

Stepper motors work with a consistent pulse providing ideal drive control and high torque at low speeds. Compared to servo motors, the stepper type is also inexpensive and widely available. However, they generate considerable vibrations and higher amounts of heat, which might lead to failure in some applications. Servo motors need the encoder to regulate pulses for precision positioning. The main advantage of servo motors is they can provide high torque even at high speed and stepper motors cannot. They do not create vibration or resonance problems and maintain at approximately 80% efficiency.

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