Pneumatic, magnetic, mechanical – innovative workpiece clamping from WNT
Estimated reading time 5 minutesWhen manufacturing companies are looking for productivity gains to remain competitive their first options are often to review machine tool and cutting tool optimisation, this ignores the gains that can be made through the potential that workpiece clamping technology provides. Workholding is an area that WNT has focussed its attention, with an expanded range of extremely effective clamping systems. Targeted use of WNT’s new magnetic and pneumatic clamping systems can deliver drastically reduced setup times while increasing machine capacity considerably. One key area to good workholding is the reduction in set-up times that can be achieved through selection of the correct system, especially on difficult-to-clamp workpieces. For example, WNT’s new magnetic clamping technology – which is system-neutral and can be used with all conventional machining centres – allows fast location and clamping of components, greatly reducing set-up times and increasing production capacity thanks to its fast clamping and changeover process, and more effective workpiece machining. Components can be machined on five sides in one setup. This has a positive effect on very large, complex and difficult-to-clamp workpieces in particular, as readjustment or further clamping is often no longer required. The WNT magnetic chucks are operated at the push of a button, with power supplied and grip activated within seconds, after which the machining process can be performed without any additional energy supply. For reassurance the system status, which is not power dependent, is displayed so that the operator can see at a glance whether the magnetic chuck is activated, reducing any risk of workplace accidents due to unclamped workpieces. For even greater component access the system can be complimented with three-point fixed pole extensions. The magnetic force from the clamping plate is transferred effectively through the poles to provide maximum clamping force. In addition, flexible pole extensions with axial compensation are able to clamp rough and uneven surfaces, allowing un-machined parts to be clamped. The ability to place multiple pole extensions to support the workpiece minimises vibration, improves surface quality and also enhances tool life. “Often overlooked, magnetic clamping technology is an attractive clamping solution for innovative manufacturing companies that have an eye on cost-efficiency. These systems provide a valuable addition to our range of existing mechanical clamping devices. Operators benefit from the user-friendliness and high reliability of the WNT system, while production managers and managing directors appreciate the extremely high efficiency levels and improved machine utilisation. Since an increase of up to 50% in machine capacities is not uncommon with the magnetic clamping solution, this soon puts the cost of investing in the system into perspective,” says Tony Pennington, Managing Director, WNT (UK). In addition to the magnetic system, WNT has also extended and developed its pneumatic zero point clamping system. Companies whose work involves long set-up times, combined with short cycle times, are well-placed to benefit from investing in WNT’s Pneumatic Zero Point system as it can reduce set-up times to a minimum, ensure maximum precision and process security and at the same time maximise machine capacity; all of which lead to greater productivity. Another benefit is the systems longevity with all the components, such as base plates, clamping bolts and clamping slides, are made from hardened stainless steel, therefore completely corrosion-resistant. In addition, the clamping module is hermetically sealed to create a maintenance-free unit that cannot be adversely affected by swarf or coolant ingress. The WNT pneumatic system’s maximum process security is thanks to its precise short taper centring and self-locking mechanism. This guarantees a level of repeatability of <0.005 mm. The clamping slides are initially closed by spring force and lock the clamping bolt via 15° angled surfaces, then the pneumatic power function supplies the piston surfaces with compressed air, increasing the clamping force by up to 300%. The result of this 25 kN clamping force is the ability to utilise considerably higher cutting data to help further reduce the machining process and increase productivity. Once the mechanical locking system engages via the spring assembly it is self-locking and form-fitting, meaning a compressed air supply is not required during machining. To release the clamping pressure compressed air applied at a maximum pressure of 6 bar is sufficient to open the clamping modules. “Workholding offers many opportunities to improve both workflow and productivity. With the wide choices available WNT is well placed to provide the solution best suited to an individual company’s needs and our team of applications specialists are on-hand to ensure the correct investment decisions are made to deliver long-term benefits,” says Tony Pennington. The WNT Applications and Technical Sales Engineers have extensive knowledge of not just the WNT range, but also their application. In order to tap into their experience simply call the free WNT service line on 0800 073 2 073 to arrange an appointment. Further information on the clamping systems as well as a product video can be found on the WNT website at www.wnt.com.