4th Axis with Automatic Tool Changer

The Automatic Tool Changer (ATC) continues to be a great success and very popular with our customers. Perhaps the only real challenge we’ve experienced with the ATC is interference between long tools in the ATC tool carousel and the conventional 4th axis.  The standard 4th axis rotary table mounts upright on the left side of the machine table, directly under the ATC. Consequently, long tools in the carousel can bump into the top end of the rotary table.

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Our recommended solution to the clearance challenge is to use the new tilting 4th axis rotary table.  Where the standard 4th axis mounts on the left, the tilting model mounts to the right. The new product comes with more weight and a slightly higher price tag, but there’s also a great deal of utility offered by the ability to lock it at an angle.

Several people who thought they needed a 5 axis mill found they could get their work done nicely by manually tilting the 4th axis.  The upfront investment may seem high at first, but park the price tag next to the price of a 5 axis mill and you’ll find there really is no price comparison.

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To help owners of standard 4th axis rotary tables using an ATC, we’ve experimented a bit in our R&D lab. We’ve found that by trimming off the mounting flange on the standard rotary table, quite a bit of valuable space is opened up. The flange is only needed when the table is mounted flat and there are other ways to clamp it down flat in that configuration. One PCNC 1100 mill owners—Mike Sherick at Imaging the Heavens—took note of this idea when he attended one of our workshops and made the same modification to his own rotary table. He was kind enough to send us a really nice video of his project.

PS:  Take a look at these large telescope parts made using his rotary table as a C-axis:

We really like the fixture plate. Great Job Mike!

*Photos and video posted with the permission of Imaging the Heavens.

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