Ice as vice

Ice as vice

Clamping tiny, 3D workpieces usually involves time-consuming and costly methods such as foundering molds or resins. But now, shops can freeze small thin-walled, parts securely into place for machining.

Within seconds, the Ice Vise freezes a workpiece to its clamping surface.

Thin-walled, tiny parts are frozen securely into place for machining on the Ice Vise.


Clamping tiny, 3D workpieces usually involves time-consuming and costly methods such as foundering molds or resins. But now, shops can freeze small thin-walled, parts securely into place for machining.

One icy system, offered by Witte, Bleckede, Germany, consists of an aggregate for cooling and a clamping plate. The workpiece rests on the precooled plate, is moistened with a thin water film, and, within seconds, freezes level to the clamping surface of the plate. A constant -10° C regulated to within ±2° C is the ideal temperature for clamping. According to the manufacturer, there is no part vibration during the machining process so a high degree of precision is possible.

The technology, called Ice-Vice, fixes onto any machine for cutting. It is especially suited for use with tiny prefabricated and thin-walled parts. It holds glass, quartz glass, plastic, graphite, and most metal. With uneven workpieces, the columns or recessions in the workpiece can be filled with water and then milled or ground, while three-dimensional parts can be completely surrounded by water and held firmly. Freezing onto the Ice-Vice plate takes up to 90 sec, and the thawing process, which is supported by an integrated heating element in the plate, also takes 90 sec.

Manufacturers can use two Ice-Vice plates simultaneously by connecting them to a cooling aggregate. This setup lets users reload one plate after it's switched to melting/thawing while another is on the worktable. Adapter plates also clamp several workpieces to be clamped simultaneously. A rubber seal prevents any unnecessary freezing of these plates to the cold base plate.

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