As many machinists know, one of the most common ways to machine large quantities of parts includes working with a tombstone in a vertical machining center, or VMC, setup. This has always been a cost-effective, and flexible solution when used strategically. While grid plates are a reliable option, certain orders may require use of a fourth axis to improve the run time.
What is the best course of action to integrate a fourth axis into your machining setup?
A popular solution to adding a fourth axis is to integrate a CNC trunnion table into your machining setup. This upgrade offers an A-axis, or X-axis, rotation, that would otherwise not be available on a traditional grid plate or vertical machining center. Typically, trunnion tables offer a single, precision-machined face. This face is going to either be optimized for your shop’s standard hole-pattern or customized to specific production parts. In more recent years, companies like Martin are offering a type of tombstone/trunnion hybrid, including a multi-sided trunnion table mounted to a fourth-axis rotary table (also known as a CNC rotary table). This means longer run-times, less downtime, and higher throughput—a lean shop’s dream.
The animation shown above is an example of Martin’s three-sided trunnion table. This application equips each of the three sides with 5th Axis’ self-centering vises offering both dovetail and flat-sided clamping capabilities. Due to the multi-sided nature of the trunnion table, this production run went from a solution with three machined pieces to nine. This not only improves this machine’s output but also allows a machinist to prep a different machine’s setup while supervising this run.
Learn more about the potential to improve your setup with 4th-axis fixtures here.
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