Some people are hard to buy gifts for. Machinist- and engineer-types are especially difficult because they often want things for their shop, which many family members and friends aren’t privy to.
While we all know the importance of picking the right machine tool for the right job, it’s important to remember that there is so much more to making chips than just the mill or lathe you are using. Choosing the right tools and workholding for your job is just as important, if not more so!
When buying a machine tool, it’s easy to get carried away. The excitement of purchasing a fancy new mill from Tormach makes you want to buy all the tools and accessories under the sun. Eventually, your budgeting conscience starts yelling, and you’ve got to draw a line somewhere. Often, when this line gets drawn, machine owners will skip buying a 4th axis, figuring they can do everything needed with some workholding ambition. While that might sometimes be true — though hardly worth the effort — here are three big reasons it’s valuable to consider a 4th axis.
Machining parts is easy... work-holding is the hard part! Fixturing, part setups, and work holding is a never ending skill. Any time I have the chance to tour a factory, walk a trade show, or talk shop with another machinist, I try to learn as much as possible about workholding. There are countless creative uses for vises, soft jaws, 1-2-3 blocks, toe jacks, and other tools. A good workholding setup can mean improved surface finishes, more accurate parts, and better tool life. Furthermore, setups can simplify short production runs, ensuring that all parts in the batch meet tolerances. Process reliability is a key part of machining and making. The easier it is to implement good fixturing, the more likely you are to embrace it! One of the best ways to increase the functionality and work area of the machine table is with a fixture or tooling plate. Check Out the SMW Tool Plate There are three key benefits to a fixture plate: