Vacuum Clamping Technology Increases Machining Flexibility

J. Schmalz GmbH is expanding its extensive range of vacuum clamping solutions for metalworking with the flexible Innospann system. The fully compatible Vacuum Operation Center, which integrates completely with the system, is available for vacuum generation.

Vacuum clamping system Innospann
Vacuum clamping system Innospann: Flexible vacuum clamping system, specially designed for all-round machining and recesses
Vacuum Operation Center
Vacuum Operation Center (VOC): Stationary vacuum generator for integration within the machine controller or as a stand-alone solution

In industrial manufacture, vacuum clamping technology is a reliable, effective, and gentle means of securing workpieces – especially aluminum and other non-precious metal workpieces. For thin-walled workpieces in particular, vacuum is often the only reliable clamping option. Schmalz has now adapted its patented vacuum clamping system Innospann to the requirements of metalworking for the production of recesses and trimming.

Set-up times reduced thanks to hose-free vacuum block positioning
The Innospann system consists of a magnetic, 3 mm-thick stainless steel plate with vacuum openings, vacuum blocks in a number of different standard sizes, and sealing magnets. The stainless steel plate is mounted onto the Schmalz matrix plate, an aluminum base plate with grooves for the vacuum line. During setup, the suction cups are positioned and any superfluous vacuum openings are sealed with the sealing magnets. The vacuum blocks are available in two different heights to also permit front machining with the spindle in a raised position. Three different suction cup shapes ensure maximum use of the available clamping area. Special friction cups ensure a high horizontal force absorption. Schmalz produces the cups to fit, guaranteeing their dimensional accuracy. The simple, hose-free positioning of the vacuum blocks – especially in combination with a zero point clamping system – allows users to reduce set-up times to a minimum.

Process-integrated vacuum generation with cooling lubricant separation and recirculation
The Schmalz solution also includes a reliable vacuum generator that has been specially designed for the application. The Vacuum Operation Center (VOC) generates the vacuum, separates the cooling lubricants and chips that have been sucked in, and monitors the system. It is based on an oil-lubricated vacuum pump, which supplies a maximum vacuum of 980 mbar and is available in various performance levels with suction volumes of 63 m3/h to 250 m3/h. A filter prevents vapors from condensing in the pump and prevents liquids from getting in. The automatic recirculation process starts as soon as coolant or lubricant is sucked in. The liquid is separated by the VOC, collected in the reservoir, and continuously returned to the machining cycle. The operating vacuum and liquid level in the reservoir are constantly monitored. A signal is sent to the machine controller if a value drops below a critical vacuum value, or if more liquid is sucked up than can be separated. The available reserves allow machining to be completed successfully. Reliable monitoring prevents vacuum-related production losses. This enables processing that is free of interruptions and increases machine productivity.

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