Ever set up a Swiss-style machine and run out of tooling stations? With many Swiss machines today boasting upwards of 20 or even 30 tooling stations, it’s hard to believe you might run short. But on older or smaller machines, as well as when running complex jobs involving multiple operations, this is sometimes the case.
To solve this problem, many machine shops resort to something machinists are good at: improvisation.
Richard Waters, shop manager for Aerospace Contacts LLC, Tempe, Ariz., said, “On some older machines, you don’t have anywhere near as many stations as on the newer equipment. Then you’ve got to figure it out yourself.”
According to Waters, some of the shop’s older machines have just three end-working stations. “If you only need a center, a drill and a boring bar, you’re fine, but if you also need a form drill and reamer, you’d need to use a gang-style holder in a square-shank station, then put the center drills and boring bars on the gang tools.”
Another trick that Waters shared is mounting an endmill, center drill or engraving tool in the end of a slotting-saw holder. Depending on toolholder orientation, this would allow for end slotting, OD milling and engraving, or OD slotting and various end-working operations—all from the same station.
“Back in the day,” Waters noted, toolholders such as these were homemade. Now, they’re commercially and readily available from some toolmakers.