Soft jaws are the jaw units that are made of softer materials such as aluminum, wood, copper, etc to clamp the work pieces in order to protect work pieces from being scratched for the delicate works. In the machining process, if the mode is metal working, most jaws are of hardened materials.
However, this premise is because most work pieces in metal working today are steels or other harder metal materials. Therefore, most jaws are made of steel rather than soft jaws such as aluminum, copper, wood, or plastic soft jaws.
According to the Mohs hardness scales, copper’s hardness is at level three, and ordinary aluminum is at level around 2.5 to 3. Compared with the hardened steels that are often at the level eight, it is obvious that soft jaws made with copper and aluminum materials are relatively soft. If the work pieces are not as hard as steel, using steel jaws on chucks or other clamping devices would normally cause some unnecessary partial stresses on the work pieces, which may lead to unwanted results.
On the other hand, of the work pieces are made of hard metals such as titanium, manganese, osmium, quartz, vanadium, topaz, cubic zirconium, chromium, tantalum carbide, silicon carbide, boron carbide, etc, then the jaw materials shall not be too soft, otherwise the precision machining would be affected since the jaws may be pressed backwards during processing, which is not ideal to the whole process.
For this type of hard materials, hard jaws are the best match. Hard jaws are the jaw units that are installed on the jigs, chucks, and vises for the clamping of tools and work pieces’ tightening works. There are two types of jaws, and one is the hard jaws and the other is the soft jaws. Both jaws are widely used in the industrial applications. The hard jaws are mostly used to clamp the work pieces with certain materials that can be hold by hard materials that will not make scratches and other harmful effects unto the clamped work piece materials.
If the materials are too soft, soft jaws are the clamping jaws that are designed specifically not to make any scratches or other unnecessary pressing effects unto the work pieces that may be less hard regarding the hardness values, so that the soft jaws on the discs or chucks would not cause further scratches to the work pieces. According to the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, there are ten levels regarding the hardness of the mineral materials. So when one work piece to be clamp is not as hard as the clamping jaws, the clamping action may cause further scratches and unnecessary problems to the whole process, leading to failure outcomes to the results.
Soft jaws are used in many clamping mechanisms such as vises, or vices, and they are vise soft jaws. In the metal working industry, a vise or vice is a mechanical apparatus utilized to secure a work piece object in order to allow works to be processed on it. Vise soft jaws have two parallel jaw units, one fixed and the other movable, threaded in and out by a screw and lever. Although wood working also uses vise soft jaws, here in the present article we only talk about metal working vise soft jaws. Machine vises are mounted mostly on machining centers, drill presses, grinding machines and milling machines. While in turning machines, chuck and cylinders are the standard accessories for the similar purpose. Abrasive chop saws have a special type of machine vise built into the saw. Moreover, there are a variety of magnetic vises that also works the same purpose to hold work pieces in order to secure the machining duties to be done.
Soft jaws on jigs and clamping mechanisms are one of the most critical accessories for machine tool machining process because the fixture effects they offer provides the feasibility for further machining process. Machine tool jigs’ soft jaws are more like hooks that claw on the targets firmly with the jaws.
Soft jaws are also applied to chuck and cylinder mechanisms like hard jaws do. Spindles and chucks and the corresponding hydraulic cylinders are also well developed as the fastening units. As the oils in the cylinder flow in the tubes and channels, the chucks would work the way it is planned, and the installed jaws would go close to hold the work pieces with the inward force and then the work pieces or tools are thus clamped firmly in the right place.
Hydraulic mechanical clamping force gives the mechanism very steady clamping mechanism as long as the hydraulic mechanism works well. When the electricity is off or the hydraulic mechanism does not work well, the hard jaws may lose and then the clamping force would go wrong. There is another clamping method, the magnetic method. Magnetic Chuck is one of the most critical accessories for especially grinding machine tools because the magnetic fixture capability they provide offers the possibility for further machining procedure.
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