A jaws chuck, as the name suggests, is a chuck with jaws. It is categorized as a lathe chuck, which is used to hold the workpieces to do machining works. Unlike the vices, chucks do not always adopt the design of two parallel jaws. With different sizes and shapes of workpieces, the chucks need to be stable enough to support the workpiece. Thus, lathe chucks are typically designed with optimal rigidity and stability.
Lathe chucks are usually mounted to a spindle, which rotates within a headstock. They are typically complemented by a variety of jaws chucks, including the 2-jaw, 3-jaw, 4-jaw, or 6-jaw chucks unit. There are relatively more spaces for how the jaws are placed. With the various forms of the jaws chucks, they are able to hold workpieces of different shapes, such as round, square, hexagonal, or other irregularly shaped workpieces, which vices would not be capable of.
There is also another type of chucks called drill chucks. A drill chuck consists of only one jaw and is used to hold workpieces with round shape. Compared to drill chucks, the lathe chucks with multiple jaws provide higher diversity of applications in the machining works.
Since a jaws chuck is operated by the rotating spindle in conjunction with the clamping of the jaws, it ensures that the workpiece is placed in the center. Therefore, jaws chucks are divided into two categories depending on the centering mechanism, which are the self-centering chucks and independent chucks.
● Self-centering chucks:
Self-centering chucks come in combination of 2 jaws, 3 jaws, 4 jaws, or 6 jaws depending on the kind of workpieces the chucks are intended for. They are also called the universal chucks. They are mounted on lathes and indexing heads, and usually used to hold round or hexagonal workpieces, which require the middle of the workpieces to stay concentric. In other words, the angle of each jaw is not adjustable so that the force the workpieces receive is equal. With respect to stability, 4-jaw chucks and 6-jaw chucks are more commonly used in self-centering chucks.
● Independent chucks:
Instead of staying in the same angle or position, each jaw of an independent chuck is removable, which allows the operator to use different setup relative to the shapes of the workpieces or the requirement of the tasks. Independent chucks are usually made of 4 jaws, and are used to hold irregularly shaped workpieces thanks to the adjustable jaws. Independent chucks provide more control for the operators so that heavier and larger workpieces can be handled at ease.
In some cases, a self-centering chuck and an independent chuck would be combined together to accommodate a special need of the machining works, which is called combination chuck. Combination chucks take more time to set up since they are the compounds of self-centering and independent chucks. With a combination chuck, more versatile applications of machining works can be achieved. What’s more, a combination chuck enhances the efficiency of the machining works, since the functions of a self-centering chuck and an independent chuck are added up together.
Typical jaws chucks can be divided into two types depending on the number of jaws and the centering procedure, namely the 3-jaw universal chuck and 4-jaw independent chuck.
1. 3-jaw universal chuck
A 3-jaw universal chuck consists of three individual jaws, each jaw is positioned next to one another with equal intervals, and the jaws are not removable in order to keep the workpieces centered. The 3-jaw universal chuck can be further subdivided into two types: the 3-jaw scroll chucks and 3-jaw power chucks. 3-jaw scroll chucks are operated by receiving pressure given from the operators’ manual force, while 3-jaw power chucks is operated by hydraulic pressure. During the process of clamping workpieces, the three jaws would move at the same time, which applies the same pressure to the workpieces in order to ensure the force is equally distributed to the workpieces.
2. 4-jaw independent chuck
A 4-jaw independent chuck consists of four individual jaws, each of which can be moved independently to accommodate different shapes of the workpieces. Compared to a 3-jaw universal chuck, a 4-jaw independent chuck provides a more powerful and stable force to hold heavier or irregularly shaped workpieces. Furthermore, a 4-jaw independent chuck offers better accuracy for different kinds of machining works because the angle and position of the workpieces are adjustable. During the clamping process, the operators should adjust the jaws chuck manually so as to keep the workpieces in place and prevent deviation of the products made from the workpieces.
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