Optical Edge Finder

What is an optical edge finder?

An optical edge finder, also known as an electronic edge finder, or a digital edge finder, is a device that is used for the alignment of the machining tools on the milling machine or lathes by the LED light and sounds, in order to help find the most appropriate position of the tools depending on the requirement of the works.

An edge finder refers to a device that is equipped with an indicator arm that holds the edge probe with a collet or a drill chuck, which is the tool holding device. When the edge finding process begins, the two parts, including the probe and the indicator would be connected and worked as a unit.

In addition, an edge finder is usually capable of finding the center of the holes or parts that have been machined for the cutting tools, and this is achieved by reverse the contact head and touches the edges of the workpiece with the other end that is formed like a cone.

Unlike the traditional edge finder, the optical edge finder indicates the edges or the center of the workpieces that are supposed to be machined by the LED light, usually the red light, and the sound, for the operators, in order to strengthen the indication, and allow the operator to know that this device has reached the edges or the center even if it is invisible.

What is the importance of finding the edges?

In the fields of precision machining works, those works such as drilling or milling require the definite accuracy of the cutting, so as to perfectly fulfill what the customers want, or ensure the standardization of the products when there is large-scale manufacturing.

When the cutting tool comes in contact and cuts through the workpieces, the outcomes of the products are irreversible. If the products that are made do not meet the requirements of the customers, or some of the products are inconsistent with others in the large-scale manufacturing, the failed products should be discarded and the manufacturers would have to make new ones.

This results in the reduction of efficiency and the increasing of cost. The lower efficiency refers to the inability of the manufacturers to do what they are supposed to do, and the higher cost along with the lower efficiency indicate the low profits for the manufacturers.

Therefore, the alignment of the tools in the precision machining fields is of significant importance. Once the alignment of the tools is attained, the tools can be prevented from deviating out of the right track, and the products can also be free from deformation when they are produced.

How does an optical edge finder form?

An optical edge finder consists mainly of three parts, which are the indicator arm, the edge probe, and the digital readout display. The optical edge finder works when the indicator arm and the edge probe are attached together on the applied machine.

● Indicator arm
The indicator arm is used to hold the edge probe on the one end, which has a space that allows the edge probe to be inserted into. The other end of the indicator arm is supposed to be connected with the machine that the optical edge finder is applied for.

In addition, the most special point of this device is that it is equipped with a LED lamp, which is driven by the dry battery inside the arm, and sheds the LED light when the edge finder touches the targets.

Other than that, there would be a sound hold on the indicator arm of some optical edge finders, which makes sounds when the edge probe touches the edges along with the light. This helps the operator to be informed that the edges have been reached when it is hard to see the light.

● Edge probe
The edge probe is held by the indicator arm, which acts as the contact head that directly touches the workpieces, which is sensitive when it comes in contact with any object.

It may come in different sizes such as small or large, straight or curved, which makes it capable of being compatible with the various kinds of tools or workpieces.

● Digital readout display
The digital readout display is an additional device that is separated to the indicator arm and edge probe assembly. It is equipped with an interface that allows the operator to do the setting and observe the indications when the optical edge finder finds the edges or center of the workpieces.

How does an optical edge finder work?

To use the optical edge finder to detect the edges and center of the workpieces, replace the tool with the edge finder from the tool holder first. 

Then move the table of the machine to allow the workpiece to gradually move toward the edge finder. 

When the edge probe and the edge of the workpiece contact each other, the LED light would be turned on and the edge finder would make the beep sounds at the same time, which indicates the edge is detected. 

Move the table away and repeat the above procedures again to double check the accuracy of the measurement, and then set the concentricity to zero. 

Once the optical edge finder is replaced with the tool, the alignment is done and the works can be begun.

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