“SpindleChecking” Machine Tools Improves Bottom Line

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Measurement of machine tool spindles for preventive maintenance and troubleshooting has proven to save money. Lion Precision's new SpindleCheck system makes machine tool spindle measurement technology easier to use and more affordable - increasing ROI.

machine tool spindle measurement
It’s a great asset to know which job goes on which machine depending on the tolerances required; even better to know when error motions are increasing and a machine is in need of maintenance – before it fails.

A precision machine shop ordered a new $1M machine. Before taking delivery, they measured the machine’s capability including a “spindlecheck” of the rotating spindle. Measurements were not within specification and delivery was refused. The shop avoided a $1M investment in a machine that would not produce parts with the accuracy they required.

Another precision machine shop was going to replace a $15K spindle as a last-ditch effort to solve a surface finish problem. Fortunately, they decided to measure the spindle first. The spindle was fine. They discovered and remedied a much less expensive problem.

“SpindleChecking” is now possible for a much larger segment of machine tool users thanks to the introduction of the SpindleCheck Spindle Qualification System from Lion Precision. SpindleCheck empowers maintenance departments and machine operators to know how a machine is performing before making parts. It is designed to make spindle measurement of rotational and thermal errors fast and easy. While measurements like those in the true stories above have been possible for years, SpindleCheck has reduced the cost and complexity of the measurement.

Because operators and maintenance personnel haven’t had access to dynamic spindle measurement equipment, spindle performance had been a neglected measurement in machine tool maintenance; yet it provides critical data for preventive maintenance, problem analysis, and cost savings. Multiple money-saving scenarios promise to significantly affect a shop’s bottom line via SpindleCheck: qualify a new machine before delivery; faster installation verification; prevent unnecessary spindle rebuilds; troubleshoot form errors in parts; preventive and predictive maintenance; planned downtime rather than unexpected production stoppages and missed delivery dates.

Thermal drift is the biggest contributor to machining and part errors. SpindleCheck measures changes in the point of machining as the spindle warms up, as chillers run, as the environment changes etc. Precise warm-up times can be determined for each machine and sources of thermal drift can be identified. This is the only method that tests thermal effects at the point of machining.

SpindleCheck is a system of software, noncontact capacitive sensors, and precision target pins. The target pins are placed in a tool holder in the spindle. The sensors are installed in a “nest” and mounted to the machine table. The target is moved into position in front of the probes. The spindle is rotated at full operational speeds while the sensors and software capture, analyze, and display the error motions in X, Y, and Z axes. SpindleCheck directly measures what happens at the point of machining, where the tool contacts the workpiece. SpindleCheck tests are compliant with tests indicated in ANSI, ISO, and JIS machine tool standards.

“Machine shops can run with confidence when they know how machines are behaving,” according to Don Martin, president of Lion Precision. “It’s a great asset to know which job goes on which machine depending on the tolerances required; even better to know when error motions are increasing and a machine is in need of maintenance – before it fails.”

SpindleCheck has a lower price tag than other systems and is easy to setup and use. Precision machine shops now have a realistic option for understanding the capabilities and condition of every machine in the shop. They can make well-informed decisions about machine maintenance and job assignments. Rather than live at higher risk of machine or part failures, shops can operate with greater confidence.

SpindleCheck details and videos are available on the SpindleCheck website at http://www.spindlecheck.com.

In 1995, Lion Precision introduced the Spindle Error Analyzer, the industry’s first complete dynamic spindle measurement system. It is the gold standard for machine tool measurement around the world and is now at version 8. SpindleCheck uses the same technology and techniques but has a reduced selection of tests and the hardware and software have been redesigned for the easiest setup possible. The Spindle Error Analyzer will continue as a product for those requiring the most demanding measurements and analysis tools.

Lion Precision introduced capacitive displacement sensors to industry in 1958. The company has expanded its product offering to include eddy-current displacement sensors and some application specific sensors for the machine tool, packaging and PCB industries. The company is built on assisting users with sensor selection and implementation by providing technical knowledge resources, expert guidance and optimized systems including custom designs. Lion Precision provides high-performance noncontact sensors and experts to help use them.

For more information, contact Lion Precision:

Lion Precision
563 Shoreview Park Road
St. Paul, MN 55126 USA
651-484-6544
http://www.lionprecision.com
info(at)lionprecision(dot)com

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Mark Kretschmar
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