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What are the Invictus Series of Professional CNC Tool Setters?

Learn a little about our Invictus Series Tool Setter's...

EMG Precision offer a range of world-class Industrial; Ultra-Precision Tool Height Pre-Setters for Z Height touch off measurement. Featuring outstanding environmental performance and a solid premium construction our LTS range supplies a sensibly priced solution to compliment a full range of machining centres. Repeatability precision of as little as 0.5μm with our optical CNC tool setter (OTS), the Nano500 or 1μm with our UTS-2 mechanical trigger. Ultramodern machine equipment for CNC manufacture. This Invictus Series of Electronic Tool Length Setter use a skip signal process to communicate with your CNC controller.

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What does a CNC Tool Setter Do?

The short answer to this question is that they perform a z axis tool height setter function. Sometime this may be on a different axis, for example on a lathe, but the principal is that it functions to measure the length of cuttings. To consider this function and these types of products it is worth it rewind and look a little deeper at the topic. There are many considerations to mull over when it comes to the potential accuracy of a CNC machine. In fact, it is an utter minefield. The deeper you go, the exponentially deeper the rabbit hole becomes. I am not going to go into this much more as I am already having ‘Vietnam like’ flashbacks. One thing is for sure and that is if your machine software doesn’t know the height of the tool cutter in your spindle, it’s safe to say you are going to get mixed results, even with the most precise of machines.

Depending on the application and operations required it maybe that simply zeroing off your Tool Height by eye with a known datum is sufficient. You maybe just cutting through some MDF and don’t mind going into your spoil board, so you eye up by jogging Z, zero off, and add a millimetre or two to the depth of cut and your happy.

However, when it comes to much more precise demands, a piece of paper or a feeler gauge may not be enough, or it is simply too slow and means your machine downtime is too high with slow tool changeovers. You may also need to measure and re-measure the diameter of cutting tools with do change with wear. In this article we are going to focus on the Height of the Cutting Tool in relation to the traditional Z axis of a CNC Milling Machine. In particularly, we are going to focus on the use of a CNC Z Height Setter, sometimes called a touch off setter or tool setter, to accurately measure your tool heights. We are also going to assume for the sake of this article that you need precise and effective tool height measurements.

How does a CNC Tool Setter Work?

The concept of using a CNC Setter involves the lowering of a pre-mounted cutting tool onto a measuring device. These Tool Height Setters are connected directly into the machines controller and software and allows the automatic measurement of tools in a tool holder and the resultant data to be fed directly back to your machine program and Tool Table. These are the most sophisticated types of Tool Height Setter and allow at the touch of a button, or automatic part of a CAM programme to measure tool heights and adjust Tool Table data. This is extremely useful for also re-measuring cutting tools when subject to tool wear that needs to be adjusted for if precision is to be kept. This is a process that the machine operator would have to complete manually in the absence of a programmable setter. The machine settings and offsets would also have to been adjusted manually as opposed to being automatically changed by the macro programming code. It is far more beneficial to make the job description of a machine operator focus on quality and consistency than spending their time performing prompt mundane tasks that can be fully automated for relatively low cost. Return on investment periods can be extremely short.

These systems require permanently mounting in a location of your machine, most often with the touch plate perpendicular to the Z axis. They also require hard wiring into the controller system, and it is often required that basic programs are created for initiating the measurement sequence. This will be covered in more detail in the future with separate articles for a variety of systems. These programs are often called macros and consist of programming language that tells the system to go and measure a particular tool and update a Tool Table database with the latest Tool Height data that was measured. In a fully automated system with a full auto tool changing carousel it is possible to perform various other functions that are extremely beneficial for your machining process flow. As previously mentioned, you can program the system to re-measure tool heights to apply cutting tool compensation for tool wear, but you can also take advantage of this functionality to show if a tool has broken, showed by a lack of expected physical presence of a tool when a tool measurement is simulated.

There are literally hundreds of models available nowadays on Amazon and Alibaba, but many are poor quality in terms of repeatability and build construction. Cheaper options like those available on Alibaba are not suitable in heavily polluting environments like using flood coolant. Many of the cheap and nasty variety have a short stroke distance and don’t have over travel safety functionality. Stroke distance on a Tool Height setter is the distance that the touch plate can be depressed safely by the cutting tool, without crashing the system and damaging the tool height setter, cutting tool or machine. This distance, if only exceedingly small limits the speed in which your cnc machine can feed towards the height setter and still accurately take a measurement. Over travel protection is something that only the best Tool Height Setter’s offer. This system means that the Tool Height Setter can be wired into the safety circuit of your CNC machine so if whatever reason, the mechanical system does not stop before crashing, the safety circuit is activated, stopping everything at once, before any damage is done. Higher end systems also feature the connection of an airline which connects to a system to blow the touch plate clean of contaminants that would otherwise falsely affect the tool height measurement result.

EMG Precision's UTS-2 is a professional, ultra-precision, uniaxial touch tool setter which performs a tool length measurement function, broken tool detection and automatic compensation. UTS-2 transfers the signals by cable. UTS-2 has 11mm of stroke distance which reduces the possibility of an accidental crash and a travel override protection circuit. This tool setter has an indicator light to show its operational status and uses a 6-core cable. UTS-2 adopts original micro resistance technology guaranteeing excellent durability for a pro-longed life. UTS-2 is widely used on CNC professional machining centres and features an integrated Air Blower and is IP168 Rated, perfectly suited for harsh flood cooling environments.

Explore the UTS-2 Tool Height Setter or Nano500 Precision Tool Setter.

Please watch out for an upcoming article on how to set-up this Tool Setter with LinuxCNC from TheFeralEngineer

Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoyed the article.

Jonathan Gee

Read the full article in our featured article, what is a CNC Tool Height Setter?