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The ‘smart’ thing to do: Making the case for offline tool presetting

With offline tool presetting, manufacturers get more for less.

ZOLLER’s world-leading technology specialises in finding and freeing-up capacity that already exists within a factory, at only a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new CNC machine.

When tools are prepared for machining with micron precision, they work to their optimum level. That means they last longer, improve surface finish quality and dramatically reduce non-conforming and rejected parts.

Perhaps most importantly, replacing an on-machine setting system allows your machine tool’s spindles never need to stop turning and it can be left alone to get on with the job it was intended to do – making parts.

Regardless of the size of the machine shop, eliminating down time and increasing productivity are key drivers of success. Still, adding a new piece of equipment – even with the promise of improving the efficiency of your existing assets – can often be a difficult sell to management.

Making that case is, however, getting easier.

Today’s advanced range of ZOLLER solutions give investors more bang for their buck due to their connectivity benefits and compatibility with the ‘smart factories’ of Industry 4.0.

data transfer in manufacturing

 

Data transfer

Matt Brothers, an Industry 4.0 Tech Center manager for ZOLLER Inc in the US, believes that ‘smart factory’ concepts are having a significant impact on the tool presetter market globally.

Irrespective of the CNC machine control system that a business is using (and no two are the same), ZOLLER’s tool presetters and inspection systems interface with them all and make transferring tool data automatically, reliably and securely a straightforward process, uniting existing assets and streamlining production.

Data transfer is made possible using a variety of methods, including printouts, bar codes, QR codes and read/write RFID chips.

Mr Brothers said: “We are seeing that many tool presetters are going into central tool rooms. This is enabled by data sharing and connectivity.

“Various locations throughout a factory, say the production floor, regrind facilities and tool storage locations, are all connected through tool data management systems.”

Since they are all working from the same database, the state of the tool and its measurements are all traceable. In those cases, the tool assemblies are prepared, measured and inspected in that central location, then transferred by cart or hand-walked over to the proper machining cell.

ZOLLER’s higher-end machines, such as the Venturion 450, also convert measurements of tools and assemblies into 3D models that can be used in a CAM machining programme.

 

data transfer in manufacturing

 

“There are so many measurements available on a tool presetter you just could not do on a CNC machine that can only touch off,” said Mr Brothers.

“Not only can we verify the actual cutting tool edge geometry, we can also confirm that it will cut the part accurately. I can now maybe start to add some inspection packages on the machine, measuring the runout, or wobble. But not only that, I can also verify where the issue is.”

Operators can determine if improper runout is due to the tool, the holder, or even the spindle.

“What we can do is eliminate the runout from the holder when we measure the tool,” he added. “One of the optional packages we can add to our Pilot 3 software is ‘wobble compensation.’”

Mr Brothers said he often needed to explain to customers (even those that have installations of ZOLLER presetters) some of these extra capabilities and how useful they are for troubleshooting – including checking the tool when first received, final inspection, tool assembly verification and even using the camera to measure tool wear.

A smart customer can find issues in the workholder and spindles by eliminating any potential error from the tool itself.

Another key feature of a programmable tool presetter is its ability to take potential human variation out of the mix.

Mr Brothers said: “For any given tool and assembly you write a measurement programme once, you save it in the machine, and when that tool assembly needs to be measured again it’s the exact same measurement sequence.”

This is in contrast to the operator doing a tool touch-off, a process that could vary widely even between skilled and experienced operators.

Crucially, implementing a new tool presetter means a change in both culture and process.

“You need to engineer it into your process to maintain consistency in the measurements,” Mr Brothers said.

 

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