Why is Workholding Always Put on the Back Burner?

Post written by: Ed Kroliczak, Director of Sales

I was at a customer site recently showing off our newest magnetic workholding chuck for milling, the Multi-Flux system. The operator and production engineer were impressed by the new magnet and its features, and we began to discuss the different ways their company tries to improve production, part quality, and machine downtime. It was said that the company will spend a million dollars on new and improved machining centers and cutting tools, but workholding is never given a second thought.

These new milling machines and cutting tools reduced production time per part anywhere from 5% – 50% depending on the job, but they still clamped conventionally, taking up to 45 minutes to set up an application. Sometimes setting up the part would take longer if the toe clamps, bolts or torque wrench weren’t readily available. Why is workholding so rarely, if ever, considered for improving production or reducing machine downtime?

Workholding technology, and in particular magnetic chucks, has made great strides since its introduction on milling machines in the 1970’s. These chucks use newer, stronger magnetic materials making the holding force extremely accurate and powerful maximizing stock removal. These new magnetic systems also utilize permanent-electro technology, ensuring a fail-IMG_1089-savesafe operation even in the event of a power loss.

A magnetic milling chuck is activated simply by pushing a button which takes less than a second once the part is located in place. There are no toe clamps to machine around or wrenches to find. Not only does a magnetic milling chuck reduce set up time to mere seconds, but it will improve the quality of the cut as it is uniformly clamping the entire work piece. With the use of simple top tooling, the operator can have greater access to the whole part for a faster turnover time.

See the table below for a side-by-side comparison of the different methods of workholding.

AbilitiesConventional ClampingMagnetic ClampingHydraulic ClampingVaccuum Clamping
Free access to five-side machiningnoyesno yes
Uniform clamping of entire workpiece in contactnoyesno yes
Predictable and accurate holding forcesnoyesno maybe
Vibration-free machiningnoyesno maybe
Push-button technologynoyesyesyes
Requires manual force/strength to clampyesnono no
Requires torque wrenchyesnono no
Can clamp irregular shaped workpiecesyesyesyesno
Quick turnover from workpiece to workpiecenoyesmaybeno
Moving partsN/Anoyesyes
Requires continual source of external powernonoyesyes