Manual Rotary Indexer

What is a manual rotary indexer?

A manual rotary indexer, also called a manual rotary index table, is a type of rotary tables that is applied with the milling machine or lathe, which is used to allow the workpieces that are clamped on the table to be able to rotate in order to accommodate to the requirement of angular cuts when the milling machine is operated.

The manual rotary indexer is set beside the head of the milling machine or lathe against the tool holder, and this machine is mainly used for clamping on the workpieces for being machined. Although the clamping forces of the manual rotary indexer in combination with the milling machine or lathe can be either pneumatic or hydraulic, the indexing or positioning of the workpieces on the table when the workpieces are not clamped is by the manual force of the operator instead.

A rotary indexer plays a vital role in the completion of angular cutting for intricate parts of the products and the alignment of the cutting tools when the cutting processes are conducted on the milling machine or lathe.

Since to produce a complex part of a product requires cutting with different cutting tools from various angles. The former technique can be achieved by the operators who change the tools manually or the automatic tool changing device on the machine, while the latter requires the different setups of the tool holder or the work holding device.

Here we focus more on the work holding device, which means to attain the angular cuts with the setup of the table, a rotary table must be adopted. With a rotary table, it frees the operators from turning the workpieces manually when the other sides of the workpieces are supposed to be cut.

In addition to the ability to rotate the workpieces during the machining processes, the alignment of the workpieces are also important, since whether the workpieces are arranged in place or not determines the quality of the final products.


How is a manual rotary indexer installed?

The variation of the manual rotary indexer installation is depending on how the connected milling machine or lathe is operated. There are two types of installation methods for these tables, including the horizontal mounting and the vertical mounting.

For the horizontal mounting, the rotary table is installed on a horizontal surface, and the cutting orientation is supposed to be parallel to that of the rotary table, which is suitable for cutting relatively smaller workpieces.

As for the vertical mounting, the rotary table is installed vertically, and the cutting tools would cut through the surface of the workpieces axially or radially from the sides. In other words, no matter the cuts are conducted axially or radially, the cutting orientation is perpendicular to the surface of the workpieces.


How does a manual rotary indexer form?

A manual rotary indexer is mainly formed with the rotary table, the T-slot, and the table locking mechanism, and a right-angle tailstock is used optionally.
Rotary table
The rotary table, which contains the clamping system, is the main device for the manual rotary indexer. It supports and clamps the workpieces in place while rotating during the operation, which means it should be capable of receiving the forces that are given from the machine, either hydraulic or pneumatic, that it can holds the workpieces firmly without slipping during the processes.

T-slot
The T-slot on the rotary table is used to allow for the rotary table to turn relative to the base under it, which is one of the components that stabilize the table when it rotates.

● Table locking mechanism
The table locking mechanism that is on the base of the table not only ensures the stability of the rotary table by locking the table to avoid it from moving, but also facilitates the smooth performance when the machine is operated. 

Therefore, it consists of ball bearings in order to maintain accuracy and eliminate friction to be produced, worm gears and the drives that provide the chip and dirt-free motion for cutting, and the lubrication system that smooth the contacting surfaces between the cutting tools and the workpieces.

● Right-angle tailstock (optional)
The manual rotary indexer is primarily adopted for the smaller workpieces. When there is the need to cut the larger or heavier workpieces on a vertical milling machine or lathe, the tailstock would be used. It can help clamp the workpieces from the other side of the machine, which offers better support for the cutting processes.


How does a manual rotary indexer work?

As the above introduction has mentioned, the main purpose of a manual rotary indexer is to clamp on the workpieces for being cut, and the stabilizing of the workpieces would be clamping and indexing. The workpieces can be clamped hydraulically or pneumatically. While for the indexing process of the manual rotary indexer, opposite to the automatic indexing on the CNC rotary index table, the operators take the place of indexing the workpieces instead.

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