This unusual method of workholding is suitable for irregular, fragile parts that are very difficult to grasp. This technique was originally used in the watch making and jewelry industries, but is now being used more widely.
Ice clamping devices use a cooling medium as it is commonly applied to a deep freezer. The latent heat of evaporation of the cooling medium contained in a closed coolant circuit is used. The cold gas passes through a labyrinth of channels in the machine table bringing its temperature to about -8C. Both the machine and the workpieces are covered with a fine film of water using a water atomizer. This causes the workpiece to stick to the machine table within approximately 15-60 seconds.
The process is reversed to release the workpieces. The device then operates rather like a heat pump, so that the dew point is reached again very quickly, and the workpieces are released.
The adhesive strength is 10-20 times greater than vacuum clamping. Hard mechanical shocks should nevertheless be avoided. Since no clamping forces are applied to the workpiece, parts with plane base surfaces can be machined with very high precision.