(Just as a quick side note, we have not figured out why this blog engine won't let us use the word h-o-l-e (without the dashes) in our posts. So wherever you see h***, simply think of the word that should go there.)
Many manufacturers are familiar with the term “fast cutting” when it comes to high-speed spindles on machine tools. It is so closely related to cutting tool technology that it is hard to separate. However, high-speed drilling or hole production is not achieved only through faster spindle rpm rates. One of the most effective ways to speed up a drilling or holemaking process is with a multiple spindle system. These systems can be used to create just a few holes or they can be much larger and produce several thousand holes at a time. Obviously, the second example is in high production situations.
I want you to think for just a moment about a situation where you are drilling one hole at a time. Suddenly, you have the need for increased output. You have already worked with your tooling supplier to provide tooling that allows you to run a bit faster and with a slightly more aggressive feed rate, etc. No small tweaks are going to save you now. You need a totally new way of doing things in order to keep up. It might seem like a good idea to purchase more machines and hire more people to run them. Before you decide how many more machines you need, what the costs are going to be for payroll, insurance, additional space, etc. you wonder to yourself if there is a better answer. What if you decided to make the existing machines more efficient or even go to a dedicated machine that is specifically built for the process?
AutoDrill loves to solve high-production holemaking problems for their customers.
According to one expert in the field, “Manufacturers seek dedicated production solutions for two main reasons: first, because they have high production requirements on a newly designed part; or second, because they are currently using flexible machining centers to produce a part – or a family of parts – in large quantities, and they have reached a production plateau. Regardless of the reason, the goal is the same: to produce a large number of parts accurately, effectively and efficiently. In most cases, this involves creating multiple holes in a single pass.”
Imagine you need to perform a hole process on twelve holes. Now imagine that each hole requires three operations. First, you need to drill the hole to the proper size, then you need to chamfer the hole and finally, you need to tap a precision thread. With an AutoDrill set-up, you could drill and chamfer from one side of the part and then tap from the other. If the part does not allow this type of dual-sided operation, then you could set up two machines side-by-side and trigger both by a manual button push or PLC signal to perform the 36 operations in one step. You would simply use a rotary table or a shuttle mechanism to move the part from the first step to the second step while loading another part into the position for the first step.
Through an automated part fixture, the part would be drilled and chamfered at the first cluster, then moved to the second for tapping. This entire process would take only seconds. With a single spindle drill press, this same process would take much longer.
Because AutoDrill can mount a multiple spindle drill head or a multi-tap head onto a standard drill press, many customers choose to perform these processes manually but with the tremendous advantage of a multi-spindle solution for their process.
Some processes are much more simple requiring only two holes to be made whereas many drilling solutions are not always as simple as what we have described above.
AutoDrill has a customer who currently drills and taps three holes in a bolt circle pattern. However, their bolt circle pattern often changes between 1.800”, 6.000” and 9.250” in diameter. While AutoDrill could not offer an adjustable head for the process, they were able to make a nine spindle head that had the ability to meet all three patterns. The customer simply removes tooling from the spindles that are not in use. This type of creative solution allowed the customer to use a single machine to perform more than one part process.
High speed production processes are often most effective when coupled with high-speed part handling. Indexing systems, robotic part handling systems, and even automatic part feeders facilitate simultaneous load and unload as a part of the machining cycle. These technologies are often paired with the AutoDrill machines for a highly reliable, highly efficient set-up.
Multi-spindle hole making opens a whole new arena of chip making and removal. AutoDrill often cautions its customers that chip removal and evacuation must be designed into the process. Many times, it can not simply be added later on after the drilling fixture is complete. It is very important for the end user or machine builder to study and evaluate customer applications. Often, this must be done not just from the standpoint of metal removal requirements, but also with consideration of all the operations that will be performed on the part before and after the drilling and/or tapping process. AutoDrill is often able to suggest changes in the process that contribute to the overall success of a project.
Although multiple-spindle drilling, tapping, reaming or other hole processes may sometimes be limited in terms of its rotational speed, it is extremely valuable because of its ability to produce many holes at once. Whether that is two holes or several thousand, the process can often be performed in less time than it would take to machine each hole individually on a CNC. The end result is not just an increase in production levels, but usually a lower cost for the equipment as well.
You can learn more about the AutoDrill product by contacting them.
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