Selecting the best workholding system for your specific needs will ultimately lead to a better end product. Close communication with your vendor results in the best tailored system.

With manufacturing operations using higher cutting speeds that place greater force on workholding equipment, choosing the correct system to hold your work is trickier than ever. Careful examination of your clamping application may lead you to either a ready-made solution or a customized workholding answer.

To provide these answers, Emuge Corp. has a workholding division that provides tailored solutions to troublesome work pieces and manufacturing. It specializes in fixtures that demand the highest accuracy and repeatability in a broad market which includes low volume job shops through high volume automotive production environments. Emuge’s workholding group stays close to its customers to learn about their unique challenges and production environments. Doing so helps Emuge avoid potential miscommunication and minimizes additional project costs.

Emuge offers the following tips for obtaining a unique clamping solution that works for you:

Establish Open Communications

Be sure your vendor has an open ear beginning early on in the quotation process. It is critical that they understand the requirements for your entire operation. Although not always immediately evident, some of this information may prove to be essential to the success of your workholding system.

Supply your vendor with complete operation specifications, and then keep them informed of any changes to these specs even if you feel these modifications are not workholding related. When we stay close to our own customers, we are usually kept informed without even asking. However, even when we are receiving timely updates, changes to the original specs may lead to some added cost or a delay in project delivery because the design or build process may be too far along.

This is where the flexibility of customized workholding devices is really put to the test. In most cases Emuge designs allow us to react and adapt quickly to minimize the impact of unforeseen changes. There was a time when a customer didn’t tell us about a special clearance problem and another time when a customer changed the specs on a grinding wheel design.

Difficult Workpiece Considerations

If you are taking the route of having a custom workholding solution produced for you, chances are you are dealing with a difficult workpiece and/or operating environment.

For instance, one challenge is holding very thin-wall parts while performing operations with high transferable torque values. Emuge’s System SG (based on a series of short tapers) spreads the clamping forces over the largest possible area of the workpiece. The result is a very rigid, accurate, and repeatable workholding solution for these types of difficult workpieces. System SG is commonly used for hobbing, shaping, shaving, turning, grinding, and inspection applications.

Selecting the best workholding system for your needs will ultimately lead to a better end product. (Courtesy: Emuge)

Ensure all Areas of System are Accurate

Not only should your new clamping system be precise, but several other related areas of the operation should also be reviewed to ensure the best possible results. Look at your production environment and tooling and make sure these areas are suitable for your application (don’t simply rely on what has worked in the past). The accuracy of the locating and clamping surfaces on the workpiece should also be considered. Further, a clean workpiece yields the best end product. When debris builds up in the clamping area of a workpiece, it may affect how the piece is being held, and negatively affect the outcome of the entire operation.

Consider Volume of Work to be Performed

If work volume is planned to be high, then a mechanical workholding solution can be the answer. In the case where your workpiece has a challenging bore to length ratio, a hydraulic system may be an alternative.

Emuge does offer hydraulic arbors, but in cases where the volume is considered to be high, a mechanical solution that we would offer is our System SP. It has high accuracy and repeatability (like the hydraulic device) and touts the reliability of a mechanical system. The System SP can also be used in other high-accuracy areas such as toolholding, grinding, workpiece inspection, etc.

Ability to Use your Workholding Solution Now and Later

Try to choose a clamping solution that will serve you now and into the future. When your vendor is designing your fixture, take the time to convey what you believe your needs will be down the line. Perhaps your workpiece is just one of many in a series or part family. This may mean that relatively minor changes would have to be made to the workholding device to accommodate the new workpieces.

For instance, Emuge’s Systems SP, SG, SM, and SZ can easily adapt to a workpiece change within a range. In some cases all that will be required for a change in diameter would be a new clamping sleeve or expanding bush that is designed to match the new clamping diameter.

Selecting the best workholding system for your needs will ultimately lead to a better end product. By following some of the guidelines provided here and staying close with your vendor, you can meet the challenges of today’s demanding production environments.