Last of the big blocks

Last of the big blocks

A toolchange system developed by a remanufacturing company lets owners of old VTLs run today's quick-change tooling.

A toolchange system developed by a remanufacturing company lets owners of old VTLs run today's quick-change tooling.

New Century Remanufacturing's toolchange system replaces the big, bulky toolholding blocks found on old VTLs with the latest quick-change tooling technology.

Developing a new toolchanging system was a result of New Century's extensive experience rebuilding, retrofitting, and remanufacturing old VTLs.

Big heavy metalblocks hold the tools on old-style VTL turrets. This setup is not only cumbersome but expensive to replace when remanufacturing the machine. For these reasons, and to give them a competitive edge over new machine toolchange systems, one California remanufacturer has designed and developed a system that does away with yesterday's large bulky toolholding.

The toolchanger, from New Century Remanufacturing Inc. of Santa Fe Springs, retrofits to any existing VTL and moves only the cutting head or tool, which is about one-tenth the weight of the old blocks. It replaces them with the latest quick-change tooling from Sandvik and Kennametal.

Prior to developing its toolchanger, New Century remanufactured machines and their turrets. Replacing the toolholding blocks for these would cost up to $48,000 for an eight-station changer. "Any time a customer was deciding between remanufac-turing or buying new but wanted toolchanging, New Century would have nothing to offer except turrets," says company president David Duquette. This new hydraulically powered tool-changing system will not only open up new markets for the company, he adds, but will also allow it to offer live tooling.

Where it can, for instance, the company incorporates a live spindle on a VTL along with a C axis. The VTL's ram can then center drill, drill, tap, and cut without setup or machine changes. At the bottom of the ram, there can be up to a 20-hp live spindle as well as standard turning tools, so the changer houses and moves both live and stationary tooling. "Today's new machines do have live tooling, but it can be costly, says Duquette. "And our remanufactured machines equipped with the new toolchanger and live tooling end up costing approximately half of what a new one would."

More than a new toolchanger
Besides developing toolchangers, New Century does complete remanufactures, rebuilds, and retrofits. Company technicians do all their own integration, panel wiring, and software generation for the VTLs.

Castings are stripped, all bearing surfaces reground and rescraped, and then the machine is reassembled to original tolerances. "The only difference between New Century and an OEM is that we start with a used base. All the components we install are brand new," says Duquette. These may include table bearings, ballscrews, lubrication systems, and hydraulics.

When the company converts a manual machine to CNC, it removes the huge old gearbox and replaces it with an up-to-date model that matches the machine's new motor. According to Duquette, it is less expensive as compared to rebuilding numerous old gears.

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