Hi-Tech Machine Tools gets to grip with 5th Axis workholding systems

Innovative workholding solutions help you hold onto productivity and profit in a machining environment. Consider the cost of an up-to-date CNC machine tool, the cutting tools and toolholders in the toolchanger or tool turret, the hardware and software devoted to programming, and compare these investments to the cost of appropriate workholding equipment. Workholding usually costs only a fraction of the amount the rest cost. Yet the potential for time savings and process improvements offered by innovative workholding solutions is enormous. The success of many an application has hinged on a rethinking of workholding strategies. Workholding innovations probably represent the best value in metalworking technology.

Fortunately, workholding seems to be a fertile area for creative minds in metalworking. New inventions and clever developments appear constantly. Rarely do you open a metalworking magazine or visit a trade show and not find one or more workholding devices making a first appearance.

Hi-Tech Machine Tools have taken cognisance of this and have announced that they have been appointed as the new distributer in South Africa to market and distribute a range of workholding solutions manufactured by US-based company 5th Axis.

“Major decisions about workpieces, machine tool selection and CAM software are all very influential to the overall productivity of machining. But strategies for using the right fixturing and tooling can make or break the efficiency and cycle time of the components produced on a CNC machine,” explained Hi-Tech Machine Tools MD Peter Killian.

“Over the years, Hi-Tech Machine Tools has adapted to the ever-changing metalworking processing conditions, such as the machine tool and processing parameters. We are very fortunate that for 30 years we have represented one of the world’s biggest and well-known manufacturers of machine tools – Mazak – a company that manufactures solutions including multi-tasking, 5-axis, milling, turning, CNC controls and automation. I have been associated with the company for even longer.”

“For years we have concentrated on selling Mazak machine tools and where possible we added the necessary add-ons such as tooling, probing and software onto the sale. When my son Christopher Killian (Sales Manager) joined the company in 2014, through his enthusiasm, we started to look a bit broader but not in the sense of taking on more machine manufacturing agencies. We are not specialists in grinding, for example, so we stay out of that area of machining but will offer advice if required.”

“We looked at preferably offering a machining package whereby we would not just supply the machine and then rely on others to get a quality component machined on a quality machine.”

“After dabbling here and there we looked at it seriously and in 2018 we set up a partnership with hyperMILL, a high-performance, complete CAM solution from Open Mind. 2.5D, 3D, 5-axis milling and mill/turn tasks can be programmed perfectly and precisely with hyperMILL.”

“After you decide to purchase a new CNC machine, it is essential to get the software, training and support required to make your investment pay off. Although 5-axis milling is one of the most challenging forms of CNC machining, Open Mind’s hyperMILL CAM software makes it possible for programmers to generate 5-axis NC programmes quickly and easily, with short machining times and high-quality surface finishes.”

Albrecht Precision Chucks
“Shortly after attending EMO 2019 in Hannover, Germany we were appointed by the German precision chuck manufacturer Albrecht Precision GmbH & Co. KG as the exclusive distributor for the sales and service of Albrecht Precision products in South Africa.”

“We have always offered CNC metalworking machines, whether they are turning centers or milling machines, that will perform with the highest precision and accuracy. But if you want your machine to perform at its optimum ability you need to equip it with an Albrecht Precision chuck or drill chuck. In fact, I will go even further and say that a machine equipped with an Albrecht Precision chuck or drill chuck will unlock the potential that you never thought you could achieve with the machine,” continued Killian.

Blaser Swisslube
“Then mid 2020 we were appointed the exclusive agents for Blaser Swisslube, a globally active company in the metalworking fluid sector that develops and produces high-quality cutting and grinding fluids for various industries, to market and distribute its range of coolants, cutting oils, grinding oils and micro emulsions.”

“The oils, coolants and lubricants used in metalworking shops are often overlooked as an opportunity to improve process efficiencies and the bottom line. Metalworking fluids have a greater financial impact on a company than the purchase price alone. Experts say the cost of these fluids could be between 0.5% and 2% of total sales. It is generally accepted that the material costs are fixed at 22%, tooling costs are between 3% and 6% and the other 72% to 75% are made up of overheads (21%), manpower (28%) and machining (26%). However, metalworking fluids can affect up to 95% of the production cost per workpiece.”

“We were well on our way to being a supplier of high-end, high-quality products as a package.”

5th Axis is changing the industry standard – workholding evolved
“Now we have added to that package by being appointed the new distributer for 5th Axis workholding solutions. When you’re working on strong machines that regularly turn higher speeds and feeds you need workholding equipment that keeps the component in place so the machine can produce the component to the microns that it is manufactured to do.”

“Workholding solutions vary almost as much as applications. This gives shops the ability to choose workholding that’s targeted to their needs, prioritising different factors depending on the type of work they do. Job shops that handle high-mix, low-volume work will place a high value on flexibility in workholding. Production shops seek workholding that will increase throughput by working with automation systems. Shops that do 5-axis machining need specialised workholding that provide access to five sides of a workpiece for machining. And those that handle delicate workpieces, or parts that require access to the full outer diameter for machining can benefit from ID workholding.”

“The company 5th Axis was established because San Diego, California-based company NYC CNC was introduced to 5-axis machining in 2005 and in their opinion, there were no quality workholding systems in the market for 5-axis machining. The company’s engineers designed their own systems and before long other machine shops were wanting the same.”

“This is when they decided to develop precise, high-quality workholding solutions that are built to withstand the harsh conditions of the machining environment. Today two thirds of the company’s business concentrates on manufacturing workholding solutions and they offer a quick-change system for almost all 3, 4 and 5-axis tables.”

“Their product range consists of RockLock quick change system bases, double station and self-centring vise solutions, dovetail fixtures, top tooling setups, master alignment pallets, jaws and multi-fixture mounts such as tombstones and pyramids. Additionally, they offer dovetail cutters, pull studs and accessories and round bar fixtures.”

“5th Axis workholding was created out of necessity by a leading 5-axis machine shop. They found themselves producing their own custom workholding and decided to make them available to the public. Designed by machinists for machinists, they manufacture the highest-quality 5-axis workholding fixtures on the market.”

For further details contact Hi-Tech Machine Tools on TEL: 011 608 0088 or visit www.hitech.co.za