Where To Buy a Special Tool Holders & Tool Holder Solutions
A tool holder is a vital assemblage between a tool and a machine, holding the end mill securely in place for high-precision applications. Custom tool holders ensure an accurate and secure fit and are invaluable for increasing product quality, decreasing noise, and improving the machine’s life. Failure to invest in the proper tool holder solution can lead to waste and rework from poor quality products or expensive repairs for broken spindles or machines. Choosing tool holders should hold the same importance as picking the tools themselves.
The right selection depends on several criteria, including the type of machine, specific process, the product that is being machined, desired cutting size or finish, insertion depth, and the necessity of quick tool changes. Determining the appropriate length of the holder requires achieving the ideal intersection between a dimension that is short enough to mitigate the risk of imbalance with one that is long enough to meet depth requirements. Let’s look into the types of tool holders in more detail.
Types of Tool Holders
One of the defining characteristics that separate different tool holders is how it secures the end mill. At T.M. Smith, we offer four primary types of solutions:
- Shrink fit holders
- Collet chucks
- End mill holders
- Tap holders
Shrink Fit Holders
Shrink fit holders clamp to the end mill tightly using heating and cooling rather than a set screw or collet chuck. The holder’s interior dimensions are slightly smaller than the end mill. As heat is applied, the holder expands to allow the tool to fit. As it cools, the metal contracts around the end mill to secure it firmly in place. One consideration for using this type of holder correctly is a shrink-fit tool holder machine to heat and cool the metal in seconds.
Benefits of shrink-fit holders include:
- Tight grip.
- Excellent concentricity.
- Smallest nose diameter of all holder types.
- No moving parts.
- Ideal for high RPM applications.
- Variety of nose profiles and gauge lengths.
- Great cost/benefit ratio.
Collet chucks secure the end mill using a slotted collar. Sizes vary by millimeter and can be customized for even more options. The need to machine very small parts in the range of 0-3 inches in diameter led to the development of the collet chuck, although they come as large as six inches. The wide range, streamlined design, and small nose diameter allow for more tool clearance, making it one of the most useful tool handles. The design also provides optimal rigidity and superior surface finishes since the machining is performed much closer to the chuck.
Advantages of using a collet chuck include:
- Excellent for high RPM applications.
- Accommodates small parts and tight clearances.
- Ideal for tubes or thin-walled parts.
- Preferred for bar feeding.
- Faster setup and unclamping.
- Increased accuracy.
- Highly versatile.
- Great concentricity.
- Tight grip.
End Mill Holders
End mill holders employ a set screw to tighten down the tool, resulting in a grip that delivers well-defined machining. They are an essential component in most machine shops due to their variety. End mill holders are known for their various lengths and small nose widths. Because they screw on easily, they are excellent for quick-change operations.
The benefits of end mill holders include:
- Simple and fast tool changeover.
- Good balance.
- Excellent grip.
- Moderately priced.
- Small nose diameters.
- Good concentricity.
- Superior rigidity.
- Variety of gauge lengths.
T.M. Smith offers an extensive inventory of tap holders, including rigid, floating, and cartridge-style. Rigid holders have no compression or tension, are available in extended lengths, and are ideal for horizontal machining. Floating tap holders minimize axial force, increasing the functional life of the tap. Cartridge-style taps are ideal quick-change tool holders.
The options of tap holders each provide advantages, including:
- Rigid tap holders are modular for rapidly changing and are easily stored.
- Radial floating tap holders mitigate misalignment issues between the tool and the workpiece, can be changed quickly, and have easily adjustable centering pressure.
- Tension/compression holders have an adjustable compression ratio, accommodate axial compensation, and can be changed rapidly.
- Tension/compression with radial float holders have adjustable centering pressure and are available in full compression, full tension, or tension and compression varieties.
- Close center tap holders are an option for when standard holders are too large. They come in rigid or tension varieties and can be combined with an extension.
- Cartridge-style tap holders with tension are compact and can be used in conjunction with an end mill holder or in a tool block.
Extended Length Tool Holders
Even with all the updates to machining and the variety of holders available, there will always be a need for extended-length tool holders in some circumstances. When maneuvering around features like the machine spindle snout or those on a vertical machining center, long gauge extended length tool holders are invaluable. T.M. Smith has over 50 years of experience in customizing tool holders to proprietary lengths. Our extension taps are designed for superior precision, operating within an alignment of a few thousandths.
Our extended length tooling solutions include:
- 5659 – Extended length tap adapters.
- 5925 – Extended length end mill holder, shell mill adapter, shrink fit holder, collet chuck.
- 3539 – Custom HSK63F ER20 mini nut extended length collet chuck.
Our standard and custom tap adapter extensions offer features like custom nose designs for hard-to-reach holes. They are manufactured to maintain rigidity while providing the required reach and projection. Custom tool holders are recommended instead of “stacking up” or combining tool holders to achieve increased precision for tight tolerances and extended tool life.
Small Diameter Tool Holders
T.M. Smith has an extensive catalog of tool holders to fit all types of applications and circumstances. When machining must be performed under tight clearances, and close quarters, a small diameter nose is required. Small diameter tool holders are adaptable to accommodate milling, reaming, and drilling while working around fixtures.
Our small diameter tooling solutions include:
- 3386 – Slimline noses for reach and clearance.
- 3369 – Custom nose design for clearance.
Our tool holders offer several advantages. The flush precision collet nut grips tool close to the cutting edge for increased accuracy and rigidity. Custom mini nut collet chucks or straight shank extensions can help reduce the diameter for areas that are difficult to reach. The particular part or fixture design can also necessitate the use of a custom tool holder.
Pioneers in Quick Change Tool Holders
T.M.Smith understands our customers’ machining needs and challenges. We offer a wide variety of catalog tool holders that can accommodate most circumstances. In fact, ranges between 2″ and 8″ will work 90% of the time. For the 10% of situations where standard extensions don’t work for extremely small parts or extended lengths, we can design and manufacture a cost-effective tool holding solution.
Custom tool holders provide a guaranteed ROI, as they are made specifically for the circumstance. They save time, fit more securely, and allow for better reach, movement, and visibility, making them much more cost-effective than you may expect. With our focus on quality engineering and attention to the exact specifications to fit your application, you’ll find yourself working much more quickly and efficiently, saving time and money. To find out more about what the T.M.Smith team can do for you, please contact us today.