Machine Vices

A vice is a mechanical apparatus used to clamp an object securely in order for construction to be completed on it. There are different types of vice, including metalworking, woodworking, hand held vices and machine vices. The machine vices is used in many industries to clamp a workpiece and is used on a regular basis by workers in industrial trades such as engineering, construction and manufacturing. However, it is also an essential tool to many DIYers and non-tradespeople. All vices work in a similar way. It is to hold a workpiece in position by clamping it in-between its jaws. This then allows the user to complete a number of tasks.

A vice leaves the user's hands free. It is a tool that offers greater strength and stability to a user, compared with holding an object by hand. Vices can be permanent or portable, and are available in either portable or permanent versions. Portable types can be moved and then quickly clamped to any convenient work surface, whereas permanent types are attached securely to a worktop by screwing bolts into the provided holes.     Vices can hold large and heavy objects, and permanent vices are most commonly used, as they are capable of clamping large or heavy objects safely without risk of the vice falling off an object. 


The History of the Clamping Technique

The clamping technique used in a machine vice was originally developed in the middle ages with the introduction of clamps with threads. In 1750, a breakthrough came with the development of the wooden parallel vice. This was a tool that had sliding jaws which moved horizontally on adjustable slots. The first cast iron vice was later produced in 1830. These vices were much more durable than the previous wooden versions.

Original vices were made out of liquid iron. During this period however, iron vices were not ideal as they were made from liquid iron. It is due to when the liquid iron is poured, it produced cavities and left the casting structure porous and brittle. This meant the vices would often crack under pressure. As a solution to this problem, during the late 19th century, high grade unbreakable vices were made from forged steel instead, until the quality of cast iron was improved. Modern day vices have developed considerably since the early days of the parallel vice, due to improvements within the manufacturing process. Vices still have two parallel jaws that adjust to hold workpieces of a variety of shapes and sizes, however, the cast iron and steel that vices are now made of are much stronger than in the early years.


The Basic Structure of Machine Vices

Vices have been developed and there are now many types. New types of vice have now also been introduced to accommodate specific applications. A machine vice works by positioning and restraining a workpiece while using a machine such as a drill press or milling machine. As the pressure from a machine tool’s bit can result in the spinning or throwing of an object, the vice removes this risk by keeping a firm grip on it.

The vice is firmly attached to the table of a machine tool, making drilling and similar operations more secure for the user. It has two jaws which clamp together in a parallel motion in order to hold objects securely, one jaw is fixed while the other is movable and slides in and out to accept workpieces of different shapes and sizes.    The sliding jaw is connected to a threaded screw which keeps it in constant alignment to the stationary jaw. The screw is held within the body of the vice by a nut which is secured within the iron base of the vice. The handle, which is fitted at the outer end of the machine vice, then controls the movement of the screw. When turned, pressure is exerted by this handle through the main screw, which either opens or closes the machine vice jaws depending on the direction of rotation.

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