Technical Blog excerpt courtesy of Techniks USA
It is important to understand how collets work, what impacts their performance, how to maintain collets for long service life, and how to recognize when to replace them.
Collets are a high-precision wear component of a tool holding system and require maintenance to ensure accuracy. First, it’s important to remember that collets are the softest component in a collet-based tool-holding system assembly and are designed to wear out.
Here is an overview of the wear pattern of a collet-based tool-holding system. The machine spindle is harder than the tool holder/collet chuck that fits into the spindle, so any wear between these two components will mostly occur to the collet chuck. That’s good. It protects the spindle from expensive maintenance.
Collets are softer than both the collet chuck body and the cutting tool, so any wear forces between these items will mostly occur to the collet. Since collets are generally the least expensive component in a collet chuck tool holding system, it is preferred that the collets wear out before the other components.
Worn-out collets will not achieve the same level of accuracy and rigidity that newer collets can provide. The result is more chatter when cutting workpieces, less accuracy, and shorter cutting tool life.
When to Replace Collets
Collets are designed to wear out as they lose accuracy and rigidity with use. High side-load forces during milling operations cause cutting tool deflection as illustrated below.
Over time, these side-load forces will bell-mouth the collet at its face.
As the collet experiences bell-mouthing, the cutting tool is allowed to deflect more and more during milling operations.
Unfortunately, the collet may still indicate good accuracy on a presetter where there are no side-load forces. However, once the tool is put into service and begins experiencing side-load forces, the cutting tool is allowed more room to deflect, resulting in increased chatter and reduced tool life.
It is recommended to change collets out every 4-6 months, depending on usage, to ensure the most rigid and accurate collet chuck assembly.
A good rule of thumb is to replace collets every 4-6 months to maximize the performance of your tooling.
Again, collets are designed to wear out and are generally the least expensive component in the system. It is much less expensive to replace the collets as opposed to prematurely wearing out cutting tools.
The following tips will help you in maintaining collets:
Signs that Your Collet Should be Replaced
Technical Blog excerpt courtesy of Techniks USA
Collets come in many different types and sizes. Here is an overview of three of the more popular types of collets, along with the pros and cons of each system.
The ER collet system has become very popular due to the flexibility of the system to hold a variety of cutting tool shank types including drills, end mills, and taps. Also, ER collets provide several solutions for increasingly popular coolant-through cutting tools.
Most standard ER collets have between a 0.020” and 0.040” holding range, making them a good choice when needing to hold odd-sized cutting tool shanks. This holding range also means fewer ER collets are required to hold a range of cutting tool shank diameters as opposed to other collet systems like TG.
The popularity of the ER collet system has led to several variations to hold a wide assortment of cutting tool shanks. Some ER collets have been modified with squares at the bottom to hold taps. Others have been modified to provide quick-change capabilities or compensation, also called “float”, for rigid tapping cycles as shown in the images below.
Specialized ER Collets
Other modifications include special slotting designs that seal around the cutting tool shank and force coolant through channels in coolant-through tooling, as well as modifications to include coolant ports in the collet that direct coolant to the cutting area.
TG collets have about the same accuracy as DA collets, but because there are more slots, and therefore more faces clamping on the cutting tool shank, they tend to deliver greater holding power.
TG can be a good solution for larger shank diameter cutting tools, but they generally limit how far down into a pocket you can reach due to interference with the collet nut, as TG collet nuts tend to be quite large.
TG collets are not as popular as ER collets for several reasons. Most notably, the larger diameter collet nuts can require the use of extended end mills to avoid interference from the collet nut when milling pockets.
Also, since TG collets have a very small collapse range, they are intended for use with one size cutting tool shank.
ER collets, by contrast, offer a large collapse range that can be helpful when clamping odd-shank diameter tools.
On the flip side, TG collets tend to have a bit more holding power than ER collets due to the collet base having a 4° taper as opposed to the 8° taper found in ER collets. This can make TG collets a good choice when machining with longer-length cutting tools.
Double-Angle (DA) Collets
Double-Angle (DA) collets have been around for a long time and continue to be used in the market. There are, however, many issues associated with DA collets of which users should be aware.
Let's just clear the air and say it: Don't use them. If you have them in your shop, replace them with ER Collets and ER Collet Chucks as soon as possible and you will recoup the cost of the new holders and collets in your tool life probably within a month or two.
One of the primary issues with DA collets is that they essentially clamp on the cutting tool shank with only two opposing faces in the I.D. bore.
DA collets have four slots in the front of the collet and four slots in the back of the collet creating four clamping faces.
However, when DA collets are tightened towards the lower end of their collapse range, two of the faces tend to be pushed out of the way so only two of the faces are clamping on the cutting tool shank. This may cause some runout at the nose when the tool is inspected in a presetter.
Additionally, when the tool begins cutting and side forces are applied to the cutting tool, the cutting tool tends to deflect into the area where the faces are not clamping on the tool shank.
This results in excessive chatter that dramatically reduces tool life and results in rough surface finishes. You will be hard-pressed to find a quality end mill holder manufacturer endorsing the performance of their tooling in DA collets.
If you work in the metalcutting, signmaking or cabinet making manufacturing industry, the term “collets” is already very familiar to you.
There are many types of collets used in many different industries and applications. This article is focused on collets used in rotary tool holders found in CNC milling machining centers and CNC Routers and also used in CNC Lathes and Swiss Style CNC's.
Let's cover the basics:
What are Collets?
Collets are the critical connection between the cutting tool and the tool holder, also called a collet chuck. Most collets are round, cone-shaped, and slotted. Collets encircle the cutting tool shank to evenly distribute holding power around its center bore.
Before getting too deep into the technical aspect of collets, It's going to be helpful to anyone new to the use of collets to understand the basic anatomy of collets and of a collet chuck system.
How Collets Work
The tapered collet base is made to fit into the collet pocket of the collet chuck body. The free release locking tapered (16°included, 8° per side) design of the collet base and collet pocket allows the collet to be centered in the pocket as it is pushed in by the collet nut on the lead face during setup.
This centering effect enables the collet to achieve a high degree of accuracy (concentricity); much more than drill chucks and side-lock style end mill holders.
As he collet nut is tightened down on the collet, it is pushed into the pocket collet chuck pocket. The slots in the collet allow the I.D. bore to collapse and apply clamping pressure to the cutting tool shank. It's essentially a spring that is compressed tight around the shank of the cutting tool such as a drill or end mill.
The result is a very strong and rigid clamping force on the cutting tool. Since the collet base is tapered to match the collet pocket, tool runout (T.I.R.) is reduced.
Total indicator runout (TIR) is a term often used in manufacturing, especially when dealing with rotating parts such as cutting tools, particularly endmills and drills. TIR is defined as the difference between the maximum and minimum values measured across an entire rotating surface about a reference axis.
It’s been estimated that a tool with a run-out of 50% of the tool’s chip load will reduce its tool-life by 40%.
That means that a 1/8” tool with a 0.00019” chip load per tooth will lose 40% of its tool-life with a run-out of less than 0.0001”.
Excessive and inconsistent run-out from a properly setup ER collet chuck assembly typically occurs due to friction build-up between the 30° face of the collet and the collet nut.
Other Parlec P3 collet advantages:
Don’t throw away you ER collet chucks to improve accuracy
Try Parlec P3 collets and supercharge your ER collet system.
Written and edited by Bernard Martin
PowerCOAT Collet Nuts provide up to a 75% increase in holding power!
One of the most important elements of the toolholding 'system' is the collet nut. Each toolholder "system" consists of a precision ER tool holder that comes with a special "Power Coated" high power nut that holds tighter than any other nuts.
According to Techniks, the 'Power Coat' nut is the secret to their high holding power. Because it holds so tight, the 'Power Coat' nut improves T.I.R., extends carbide tool life, and improves finish in heavy milling operations.
Techniks recommends that for best results always tighten the nut to the proper torque using a torque wrench with a tightening stand, and never over-tighten the nut because this can damage both the collet and the collet pocket.
To demonstrate the difference between an uncoated and coated collet nut, Mike Eneix, from Techniks did some testing.
He took an uncoated, imported nut and put it to the test against the Parlec PowerCOAT nut. Mike took them to the limit to see which one gives you more holding power. Check out the video below!
What makes the difference?
As anyone knows who has changed a flat tire on their car, tightening down a nut on a 60 degree thread involves some friction as the mating metal surfaces interact. That's why nuts can be a bit 'hot' to the touch when you take them off. The objective with the "Power Coated" nuts was multifold:
First Techniks needed to reduce the coefficient of friction on the thread angle to enable more lubricity for the nut to tighten down farther. As we all know 'heat' causes metal to "grow" so what may at first appear to be tight, in fact, loosens, as soon as you stop tightening it.
Second they needed to make sure that the front surface of the collet that engages the shorter 30 degree taper on the front of an ER collet did not 'twist' as the night tightened down.
Both problems really involved reducing friction and through a combination of engineering tolerances and unique coating process we believe that we've found the most economical solution to eliminate the use of cheater bars and collet over torque. Here's what they've found out in testing the "Power Coated" Nuts:
“Power Coat” is an innovative, permanent coating that increases clamping pressure of the nut up to 75% compared to standard ER nuts. More holding power reduces the chance of spinning the shank of the tool inside the collet, which can cause premature failure of the collet.
by Bernard Martin
There have been some who claim that drawbar gripper fingers and/or ball marks that appear on retention knob head after several tool changes is normal.
It is NOT.
THAT IS FALSE.
According to Haas CNC, ball or gripper marks on the edge of the pull stud indicate that the drawbar does not open completely.
If you see these indication marks you should check your drawbar and replace these pull studs immediately.
by Bernard Martin
Retention Knobs are the critical connection between your machine tool and the tool holder and they are the only thing holding a steep taper tool holder in the machine’s spindle.
Techniks has recently introduced their MegaFORCE retention knobs that have some rather unique features when compared to standard pull studs. Before delving into the features of the MegaFORCE pull studs, let's review some things that you may not know, or think about, on a daily basis.
According to Haas, you should expect a service life of about 6000-8000 hours for a retention knob.
Most all rotary toolholder manufacturers state that you should be replacing your pull studs at least every three years.
However, if you're running multiple shifts, 24-7, making lots of tool changes, making very heavy cuts with long reach or heavy cutting tools, and/or have ball lock style grippers instead of collet type grippers used on the retention knob, you will probably need to replace your studs at least every six months.
Given the spindle speeds that we are running at to remain competitive, retention knobs are not an item that you want to take a chance on breaking. I can tell you firsthand that 5 pound toolholder with a drill in it flying out of the spindle at 23,000 RPM is not something you want to experience.
METAL FATIGUE: WHY THEY FAIL
Pull studs encounter catastrophic failure as a result of metal fatigue. The metal fatigue can be caused by a number of reasons including poor choice of base material, engineering design, machining process, poor heat treatment, and, sometimes, they have just met or exceeded their service life. We're going to dig into each of these reasons below but first let's look at some threading fundamentals.
The load on each subsequent thread decreases from there, as show in the table. Any threads beyond the first six are purely cosmetic and provide no mechanical advantage.
Additional threads beyond the sixth thread will not further distribute the load and will not make the connection any stronger.
That is why the length of engagement of the thread on a pull stud is generally limited to approximately one to one & a half nominal diameter. After that, there is no appreciable increase in strength. Once the applied load has exceeded the first thread's capacity, it will fail and subsequently cause the remaining threads to fail in succession.
RETENTION KNOB DESIGN
Repetitive cycles of loading and unloading subject the retention knob to stress that can cause fatigue and cracking at weak areas of the pull stud.
What are the weak areas of a standard retention knob?
The most common failure point for a retention knob is at the top of the first thread and the underside of the pull stud where the grippers or ball bearings of the drawbar engage and draw the toolholder into the spindle.
Remember, bigger Radii are stronger than sharp corners. More on that soon.
Not all retention knobs are made from the same material, however, material alone does not make for a superior retention knob. Careful attention to design and manufacturing methods must be followed to avoid introducing potential areas of failure.
Techniks MegaFORCE retention knobs are made from 8620H. AISI 8620 is a hardenable chromium, molybdenum, nickel low alloy steel often used for carburizing to develop a case-hardened part. This case-hardening will result in good wear characteristics. 8620 has high hardenability, no tempering brittleness, good weldability, little tendency to form a cold crack, good maintainability, and cold strain plasticity.
There are some companies making retention knobs from 9310. The main difference is the lower carbon content in the 9310. 9310 has a tad more Chromium, while 8620 has a tad more nickel. Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS) is the force at which a material will break. The UTS of 8620H is 650 Mpa (megapascals: a measure of force). The UTS of 9310H is 820 Mpa. So, 9310H does have a UTS that is 26% greater than 8620H.
That said, Techniks chose 8620 as their material of choice because of the higher nickel content. Nickel tends to work harden more readily and age harden over time which brings the core hardness higher as the pull stud gets older. The work hardening property of 8620 makes it ideally suited for cold forming of threads on the MegaFORCE retention knobs.
It should be noted that some companies are using H13. H13 shares 93% of their average alloy composition in common with 9310.
ROLLED THREADS VS. CUT THREADS
A cut thread, image 1, has a higher coefficient of friction due the the cutting process, while a roll formed thread, image 2, has a lower coefficient of friction which means that it engages deeper into the toolholder bore when subjected to the same torque. You will notice that Cutting threads tears at the material and creates small fractures that become points of weakness that can lead to failure. Rolled threads have burnished roots and crests that are smooth and absent of the fractures common in cut threads.
Rolled threads produce a radiused root and crest of the thread and exhibit between a 40% and 300% increase in tensile strength over a cut thread. The Techniks MegaFORCE retention knobs feature rolled threads that improve the strength of the knob by 40%.
Also, unlike thread cutting, the grain structure of the material is displaced not removed.
By comparison, cut threads interrupt the grain flow creating weak points.
MEGAFORCE GEOMETRIC DESIGN
There are some claims that a longer projection engages threads deeper in the tool holder preventing taper swelling. While a deeper thread engagement can help prevent taper swelling, applying proper torque to the retention knob is an effective way to reduce taper swelling.
An over-tightened retention knob may still cause taper swelling regardless of how deep it engages the threads of the tool holder. Additionally, the longer undercut section above the threads presents a weak point in the retention knob.
There is a ground pilot, underneath the flange, which provides greater stability. The pilot means the center line of the tool holder and pull stud are perfectly aligned.
Magnetic Particle Tested
Each Techniks MegaFORCE retention knob is magnetic particle tested to ensure material integrity and physical soundness. MegaFORCE retention knobs are tested at 2.5X the pulling forces of the drawbar.
RETENTION KNOB BEST PRACTICES
In order to maximize the life of your retention knob and prevent catastrophic failure here are some technical tips to keep your shop productive and safe.
by, Bernard Martin
As carbide end mills gain higher and higher speeds and metal removal rates there has also been a trend by round tool manufacturers to tighten up the tolerances on both the cutting diameter and the shank diameter to improve concentricity. At the same time, shrink fit holders have become more and more popular because they hold a tighter concentricity as well. To achieve this both the shank and the bore now have similar surface finishes and this has led to a problem The tools pull out in the cut.
Shrink fit holders are the most accurate for TIR as the toolholder engages completely around round shank tools with a bore tolerance of -0.0001" to -0.0003". As high performance end mills have tightened shank tolerances to the same range of -0.0001" to -0.0003" they have used finer and finer grain grinding wheels which give the shanks a 'shiny' appearance.
Shiny means that the superfinished shank has a lower coefficient of friction. So, although the TIR is tighter, the shank is more "slippery". End mills traditionally had surface finish of about 8 μin on the tool shank. But that's changed. It's been recommended that tool shanks used in shrink fit holders should not have a finish finer than 16 μin. for optimum holding power, but tell that to the guy who just superfinished the end mill to a super cocncentric tolerance that you don't want it looking that good.
Everyone knows that the last thing you want is for the end mill to slip in the middle of a heavy cut or on the finishing pass of a high tolerance part. These 'hi performance' end mills, often times have higher helix angles which are great for ejecting chips but also create a higher pull out force on that slippery shank. And reducing the helix angle is not the answer.
We already know that the gripping pressure is a function of the interference between the tool shank and the shrink fit toolholder bore. Most shrink fit holders have a already bore surface finish of between 12 μin. and 16 μin. So they are ground to a very high tolerance and have about the same surface finish as the toolholder shank.
End mill manufacturers and machinist have tried a variety of methods over the years to stop the tools from pulling out. This has ranged from grit blasting the shank to rubbing chalk on the shank, but most everyone in the industry has felt that the problem really needs to be addressed by the longer life toolholder rather than the replaceable cutting tool.
That's the problem that Techniks wanted to address. Techniks claims that their "proprietary non-slip TTG594 compound virtually fuses the tool shank with the shrink fit toolholder."
ShrinkLOCKED Toolholders eliminate cutting tool pull-out and provide 4X the friction drive force compared to un-treated shrink holders.
It’s not just a rougher bore finish that enhances the holding power. TTG-594 is a compound that has a much higher Brinell hardness than carbide so it can “bite” into the tool shank. But this does not affect the ability to perform tool changes.
Techniks arrived at their 4x the holding power comes from torsion testing vs. a standard shrink fit toolholder. They used a ¾” carbide gage pin in a standard holder and found the torque at which the tool will spin in the bore.
They then tested the ShrinkLOCKED holder using the same test.
According to Greg Webb, at Techniks,
"We actually could not find the point at which the tool would spin in the ShrinkLOCKED holder as we broke the carbide gage pins at 4x+ times the torque of the standard holder. The holding power is greater, we just have not found a way to measure this, so we kept our claims conservative at 4x."
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.
We set up this special blog for the most commonly asked questions and machinist data tables for your easy reference.
If you've got a question that's not answered here, then just send us a quick note via email or reach one of us on our CONTACTS page here on the website
Our technical section is written by several different people. Sometimes, it's from our team here at Next Generation Tooling & at other times it's by one of the innovative manufacturer's we represent in California and Nevada.
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