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Shrink Fit Tooling

1st February 2013
Shrink Fit Tooling

Tool-holding technologies have always relied on the traditional way of using machining centre type tool holders that hold the tools based on collet chucks or hydraulic chucks.  These techniques are well known and they have certainly stood the test of time within the industry. 

However, the whole story changes when it comes to the manufacturing industry and its processes. The industry requires high precision and accuracy and this is where the older strategies for holding tools fall short of expectations and company demands.  When the rotation speeds go up significantly to speeds of over 10000 to 15000 rpm, each error or aberration that the tool holders add get highly magnified.  Hence, they just cannot provide the levels of precision needed for manufacturing the parts.
Ever since machining shops started finding themselves at a disadvantage due to their older tool holding units, newer ways have been sought. This has given rise to the shrink-fit tool holding technique.  Shrink fit tool holders rely on the principles of thermal expansion.  When a body is subjected to heat, it tends to expand.  This expansion property can be exploited to ensure that a greater level of accuracy is maintained during the entire manufacturing process.
A one-piece tool is considered to be the most ideal one for achieving high precision and accuracy in a manufacturing process.  However, it is highly difficult to fashion one that is well-balanced, when it comes to factors such as rigidity, concentricity, etc.
A shrink-fit tool, even though consisting of multiple pieces, can act as a single-piece tool.  This allows both the tool and the tool holder to act as one and function with a high level of accuracy.
It is suggested that the shrink-fit tool method can enhance tool life by over 30 percent and the parameters of manufacturing the products can be increased by over 20 percent above the standard values that would be used if other tool holders were employed for the same job.
While shrink-fit tool holders offer exceptional performance, they come at a premium pricing point. Setting up a machine with complete shrink-fit tool holders and supports can escalate the pricing significantly.  But herein lays the trade off that is encountered regarding tool holders.  Better performance at a higher price or lower performance with lesser costs - the decision must be made after some careful and diligent reflection.
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