Tool magazines, also known as automatic tool changer (ATC), are functioned as the device of storing and switching multiple cutting tools while operating the machining progressions. Tool magazines come with various designs, such as umbrella tool magazine, chain tool magazine, flat tool magazine, turntable tool magazine, carousel tool bank, horizontal tool magazine, etc. Usually, they would be installed inside CNC machine tools.
In common situations, CNC machine tools in some specific designs would have the demand to switch cutting tools during the progression. The exchanging step of the cutting tools is usually completed with tool magazines by the automatic systems or computer programs. By the control of computer systems, the automatically switching between different cutters can help reduce the time of progression and deduct the production cost as well.
Each tool magazine has its features and can be used on different equipment for the purpose of reducing tool switching duration. Several cartridges are installed on the tool magazine depending on the capacity of each device. In general, there would be several types of cutting tools attached to the tool magazine. They might be drills, millers, cutters, or blades, etc. which is popularly used for CNC machine tools.
The step of switching different cutting tools with tool magazines is controlled by the computer programs. Before the whole manufacturing process starts, the programmers would firstly write down the proper timing to change the proper cutting tool for the next step. Therefore, during the progression, the CNC machine tools would automatically do every step, including changing tools.
Umbrella tool magazine is one of the forms of the tool magazines which functions as the device of storing and switching multiple cutting tools. Like other types of automatic tool changers, they would be installed inside CNC machine tools.
As its name shows, the umbrella tool magazine looks like an opened umbrella, basically, designed as a round plate. On the edges of the umbrella tool magazine, there would be several holders that can store cutting tools for the machine tools to choose. According to the size of umbrella tool magazines, the holders could be 6 or 12 or 16 or 20 or even more, from small to large sizes, the number of holders would be more and more.
When it is necessary to switch the cutting tools, the control arm of the CNC machine tool would go to the tool magazine. Then, almost at the same time, the umbrella tool magazine would rotate, show the right cutting tool to the control arm in a very short time, even within one second.
During that time, the computer program that controls the machine tool would pick up the proper cutting tools from the tool magazine and return to the machining progression. By the cooperation of the computer program, the control arms, and the tool magazine, the CNC machine tool that contains multiple cutting tools can work well with different stations of manufacturing and complete many complex tasks properly and perfectly. Moreover, since the switching duration has been shortened as well as possible, the tool switching would not slow the production speed and influence productivity in negative ways.
From the surface, we can say the structure of umbrella tool magazines is simple. However, to complete perfect tool switching each time, there would need several parts to cooperate accurately. Below are the parts work the umbrella tool magazine to switch different tools:
This DC motor would drive the slip clutch arm to shuttle in and out of the spindle.
This is also a DC motor. It is responsible for rotating the umbrella tool magazine for the control arm of the CNC machine tool to pick up the right tool.
This is the official name of the holder set. Each holder in this assembly consists of two extractor fingers, a spring, and a locating tool key.
This is a mechanism part that couples the shuttle motor to the carriage casting. If there occurs any crash, the slip clutch arm would slip to prevent the possible damage to the tool magazine or the tools on it.
The motors and the sensors would be linked to this connector bracket to control the rotation of the tool magazine.
These sensors are responsible for directing the shuttle position for the control arm.
This sensor is responsible for directing the carousel position for the control arm.
By the method they are powered, umbrella tool magazines can be divided into three categories:
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