Automatic tool changers are standard machine tool accessories today that help change cutting tools automatically on most milling-based and cutting-based machines and machine centers. With the system, milling procedures can be much more convenient compared with the manual counterpart. The tool changing time of the automatic tool changers is significantly shortened, so the process could be controlled by computer programs and the corresponding management is much easier.
Generally speaking, an automatic model can be installed on not only a milling machine but also machining centers and other machine tools that require multitasking machining processes. Though in the case of turning machines, a power turret would be the first choice for such purposes, once the tools on the turret are not enough, then there must be some other means to assist the machining process.
In the old days when there were no automation technology, nor computer programs, the change of tooling systems was mostly achieved by manual tool changers operated by onsite workers. Those manual change procedures required a series of mechanical equipment and fixture devices as the assistance to unlock the gripped tooling units. Both tool grippers and work piece grippers are necessary units that can hold fundamental objects during the operation, so those grippers, chucks, fixtures, etc were and are firmly tight. When onsite workers tried to uninstall them with their manual models, the efforts were often complicated with a series of manual processes and the manual forces requirements were also taking a lot of effort to replace. With the old methods, tool changers are a set of tools and the whole process is very lengthy. That is why in the old days, most work piece processes were very complicated and took a long time to process complicated profiled work pieces.
Clamping and working are the main functions of the tool changers, and a CNC coordinated changer with CNC tool magazines are combined as one unit that can best work the changing processing under the integrated command of the CNC controlling system. Computerized numerical control can tell the whole turning lathe, milling machine, machine center, and all other applied machinery when and how to change the on hand tools and where to store the cutting tools at which moment. The timing and the storage space are all calculated, so the process is rather smooth compared to the NC control or the manual operation model.
The change of the tooling and the following working procedures are rather complicated and involves a series of machine tool accessories. To be specific about the accessories and we take the example of lathes to illustrate. The parts for the turning machines are many, and the power turret normally equipped with the tool magazine and the automatic changer, which are also the best sellers of many Taiwanese machine tool accessory suppliers due to their higher price-performance ratios compared with the global competitors in the market.
Many tool magazine and ATC system manufacturers offer the optimal tool to tool time for customers which are designed based on their onsite plant cycle time schedule. This can help those users in the manufacturing industry keep up with their customers’ demands. Many of the processing demands required complicated curves and profile shifts, so one single cutting tool and one simple direction cannot satisfy all kinds of machining demands. The power turret, with its autonomous tool mechanism equipped inside the turret itself, can offer additional processing competence to the lathe machining during the processing procedure. Furthermore, since the cutting tools installed on the power turret are capable of spinning due to the servo motor installed inside as designed, the milling performance of those power tools is not less than the traditional machining centers for milling, turning, boring, and even simple drilling.
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