A guest blog from BIG KAISER.
High-speed machining started getting popular in the ‘90s, especially in aerospace where they replaced fabricating processes with machining monolithic parts like wing struts from billets. Machine tools capable of spinning cutting tools at tens of thousands of RPM made it easier to produce these parts quickly.
Like machines, holders adapted. The centrifugal forces they had to manage in order to keep tools cutting correctly became extreme. The toolholding systems available at that time were found not to be as effective as the shallower 1-to-10 taper ratio of the German hollow taper shank, hohl shaft kegel (HSK) in German. The HSK has since been standardized to ISO specifications (12164-1, -2).
HSK is now available in several sizes and forms to fit with small to large machines. For the most part, the market has settled on the form A for general milling. It has been adopted in Japan, North America and Europe and is truly one of the only worldwide-side toolholder standards. Form E or F is for high-speed machining. The forms have different features depending on the standard they follow.
In the end, to achieve efficient tool life, proper finish and productivity in high-speed work, holders need to be as rigid, compact and short as possible to keep the whole assembly stable.
What to know when choosing a high-speed tool holder
When it comes to balancing holders, the quality G2.5 is widely used in the industry and is described in the ISO 1940-1 (issued in 2003) standard. However, this quality class is often over-specified and is in many cases not economically or technically feasible, especially when applied to smaller and lighter tools. Standards often applied to tools are more suited for rigid rotors and are practical in a broader use for balancing.
However, it cannot be applied to a complete system of spindles, tool holders and tools adequately and within technical constraints. For example, a tool to be compliant will have to be balanced to less than 1 gmm/kg at a speed of 25,000 rpm, which in turn corresponds to a mass eccentricity of less than 1 μm. This allowable tolerance is less than the interchange accuracy for even HSK, essentially negating all the costs and time for balancing the tool to such a strict tolerance.
For this reason, all BIG KAISER tool holders are balanced according ISO 16084 (issued in 2017) specifically developed for rotating tool systems. ISO 16084 focuses on the interaction between spindle and tool factoring in the allowable load on the spindle bearings generated by the tool’s imbalance. This load must not exceed one percent of the dynamic load capacity of the spindle bearings.
According to ISO 16084, the allowable unbalance tolerance is specified in [gmm] and is not expressed using a special quality grade [G]. In conclusion, BIG KAISER does not indicate any G-values for balancing quality, but rather the maximum rotational speeds of the individual tool holder.
The BIG Kiaser MEGA holder program includes a variety of styles that can be used up to 40,000 RPM. They guarantee 100 percent concentricity and runout accuracy down to .00004" at the nose. They are built specifically to withstand speed and forces required in today’s high-throughput environment.
For more information on BIG KAISER's approach to balancing tool holders, click here. To learn more about our high-performance tool holders here.
Alternatives to Steep Tapers
Below are excerpts from a Cutting Tool Engineering article by the same title. To read the entire article please click HERE.
Author Kip Hanson, Contributing Editor, Cutting Tool Engineering
Kip Hanson is a contributing editor for Cutting Tool Engineering magazine. Originally Published: September 12, 2017 - 3:00pm
Shopping for a machining center was simpler when buyers had only two basic spindle choices: CAT or BT. Both of these “steep tapers” have an angle of 3.5 in./ft., or 7" in 24" (7/24), and are based on the 1927 patent by Kearney & Trecker Corp., Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Co. and Cincinnati Milling Machine Co.
With the development of automatic toolchangers in the late 1960s, machine tool builders in Japan modified the patented design and invented the BT standard. In the 1970s, tractor manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill., changed things again with a flange design now known as CAT, or V-flange.
During the late ’80s, machine tool builders began offering vertical and horizontal CNC mills with spindle speeds higher than the 6,000 to 8,000 rpm common at the time. As rpm increased, so did problems with steep-taper toolholders.
Chief among them is the tendency for the mating spindle and toolholder tapers to stick together. This is caused by the expansion of the spindle housing at high speeds, which allows the toolholder to be pulled upward into the spindle taper, jamming it in place.
HSK spindles, like the one shown in the illustration below, offer advantages steep-taper styles can't.
One way to eliminate this problem is by extending the toolholder flange upward, thus creating a hard stop against the spindle face and preventing further Z-axis movement.
This is the approach taken by BIG KAISER Precision Tooling Inc., Hoffman Estates, Ill. Jack Burley, vice president of sales and engineering, said the BIG-PLUS system—developed in 1992 by BIG Daishowa Seiki Co. Ltd., Osaka, Japan—relies on a bit of elastic deformation in the spindle to provide dual points of toolholder contact at its face and taper, eliminating upward holder movement as the spindle expands.
He said it’s also more rigid, with tests showing that the deflection on a CV40 BIG-PLUS toolholder measured at 70mm (2.755") from the spindle face is only 60µm (0.002") when subjected to 500kg (1,102 lbs.) of radial force, roughly half that of a traditional V-flange toolholder.
“There are now roughly 150 machine builders that either offer BIG-PLUS or have it as a standard,” Burley said. “The beauty of the system is that it can use either standard toolholders or BIG-PLUS interchangeably. So for drilling and reaming work, you can use a conventional collet chuck, but for heavy milling cuts or profiling operations at higher spindle speeds, BIG-PLUS improves accuracy and tool life.”
Burley does not recommend BIG-PLUS for older machines that have never seen these toolholders, because CAT and BT taper-only contact holders tend to bellmouth the spindle over time, leading to undesirable results.
BIG-PLUS, like any dual-contact toolholder, requires particular attention to cleanliness, as chips caught between the spindle face and the toolholder can cause serious problems.
He also recommends staying below 30,000 rpm when using 40-taper holders, noting that higher speeds are better handled by HSK spindles and holders.
Keep It Clean
Bill Popoli, president of IBAG North America, North Haven, Conn., said the company started building steep-taper spindles in the late ’80s, but 95 percent of its work has since transitioned to HSK spindles. As mentioned earlier, the extreme accuracy needed to guarantee near-simultaneous contact between the spindle face and taper is challenging, requiring micron-level tolerances in toolholder and spindle alike.
These requirements were impossible to meet when steep taper was first developed, Popoli said, resulting in looser standards overall for CAT and BT spindles than the ones applied to HSK spindles and toolholders. Because of this, purchasing an HSK or equivalent toolholder automatically makes one “part of the club” when it comes to balance, accuracy, repeatability and tool life.
That’s not to say, however, that shops firmly married to steep tapers should settle for less. Popoli recommends purchasing the highest-quality tooling possible and paying close attention to the stated tolerance.
Always stay below 20,000 rpm with 40-taper holders, and reach no more than 30,000 rpm with 30-taper ones. Use balanced holders and high-quality retention knobs that have been properly torqued—otherwise distortion at the small end of the taper may occur. And whatever the taper type, keep the spindle and toolholder clean at all times.
Bob Freitag agreed. The manager of application engineering at Minneapolis-based metalworking products and services provider Productivity Inc. said the lines are evenly split between traditional 40- and 50-taper CAT or BT tooling (much of which is BIG-PLUS) and HSK.
“It really depends on the application,” Freitag said. “Most of our die and mold machines in the 20,000- to 30,000-rpm range will have an HSK63A or HSK63F. When you get up around 45,000 rpm, you’re probably looking at an HSK32. But in horizontal machining centers and lower-rpm, high-torque verticals, you’ll see mostly steep tapers, as this is generally preferred for deep depths of cut and lower feed rates, where you’re removing a lot of material at once.”
For shops that want to make the leap to an HSK machine but are leery of investing in new toolholders, Freitag advised:
“Anytime you buy a new machine, you should buy new toolholders to go with it. If not, the imperfections of the old toolholders will soon transfer themselves to the spindle on the new machine.”
We are very excited to announce that we are now able to offer on-site technical training to YOUR machinists at YOUR location! This is offered at no charge to customers who use any of the manufacturer's whom we represent in California and Nevada.
However, just because you don't purchase things from us, don't feel left out! We also offer on-site topic specter training on any of the following topics for $150/hour.
Each presentation lasts about 2 hours. The presentations last approximately 45-60 minutes with the remaining time for Q&A and discussion about unique applications in your facility.
Training Classes Available:
Advanced Part Manufacturing:
edited by Bernard Martin
As machining spindle speeds have increased, steep taper rotary toolholders like BT and CAT systems tend to lose accuracy due to higher centrifugal when running at high RPM's.
The mouth of the machining center spindle can grow and eventually "bell mouth" with these older style steep taper holders. As it grows the BT and CAT tool is under constant drawbar pull, is pulled up deeper inside the expanded spindle taper. This causes the Z-axis offset to change and can lead the toolholder getting stuck in the spindle.
Major Differences between Steep Taper and HSK
There are several major differences between "steep taper" toolholders, like NMTB, CAT & BT and HSK.
One of the big differences between HSK, short taper toolholders is the way the tool fits into the machine tool spindle. HSK uses a simultaneous fit between the short taper and the face of the spindle. The connection is very rigid. HSK provides dual contact between the spindle face and taper while a conventional V-taper only makes taper contact.
A standard steep V-taper tool system is designed to make contact along a fixed taper in the machining center spindle. The tool is held firm against this taper by the drawbar inside the spindle of your CNC. When a conventional holder is seated in the CNC spindle, there is approximately a 3 mm gap between the tool holder flange and the spindle face.
HSK is short for the German words "Hohl Shaft Kegel" or, in English, Hollow Shank Taper because of how the tool is held in the spindle.
Note how HSK taper (right) is a dual-contact taper. Meaning that it is flush with the gauge line of the spindle face, creating dual contact between the flange of the holder and the spindle face, and the taper itself and the spindle mouth. Dual contact increases tool- holder rigidity for improved performance especially at extended gauge lengths
The HSK contacts the spindle taper and flange on the spindle face to make a solid union in both the axial and radial planes. In operation, HSK tool holders are resistant to axial movement because the face contact prevents the toolholder from being pulled up into the spindle at high speed.
Cutting tools generally takes higher radial forces because the flange contact and taper contact combine to resist deflection.
The HSK drawbar "fingers" reach inside the Hollow Shank. One of the big advantages of HSK is the "Merry go Round" effect on the drawbar fingers and how centripetal forces affect it. As the RPM is increased on the HSK toolholder the drawbar fingers actually use become a tighter connection on the inside of the flange and increase the pressure in the spindle connection.
February 2023 Editors note: New graphics and minor editing and corrections have been made to this article to improve the readability. The old graphic element has been moved here to the bottom of the screen while everything above has been recreated with higher resolution (non blurry) elements.
Technical Support Blog
At Next Generation Tool we often run into many of the same technical questions from different customers. This section should answer many of your most common questions.
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