Saturday, July 9, 2011

Manual Tool Changer Carousel

My Bridgeport CNC mill uses 'Quick Switch 30' tooling. I like it for prototype work- it's easy to change out a tool by hand. All that's required is a spanner wrench at the spindle nose to loosen and tighten the knurled ring. It only takes a quarter turn to secure the tool in the taper. When I bought the mill, it came with a small aluminum plate that had 5 holes in it for holding tools, that could be clamped down to the table. This made it convenient to have 5 tools within reach while running programs. This is not enough for the programs that I am running nowadays. Right now, I have 29 Quick Switch 30 toolholders and I like to use the hell out of them during a program. Sometimes I have 8 different tools in a program.
I have been thinking about using an old Heathkit turntable platter that I have had in my stock pile (junk pile) for many years- to make a tool carousel. It's a substantial aluminum casting that's .20" thick in it's cross section and about 11" diameter. It looked like I could put 10 holes in it that would comfortably hold 10 QC 30 tools.
I ended up writing a program in HeeksCNC, using scriptop to bore holes with an end mill. It ended up being pretty slick- it descends in a helical motion and then spirals out with an even chip load on the tool. It was kind of fun to write and use.

Here's a link to my 'array_of_holes.heeks' file that was used for this project:

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