11/15/1999 | 3 MINUTE READ

Geography & Technology

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Otto Bilz Werkzeugfabrik GmbH & Co. (Ostfildern, Germany) has a solid reputation with the European automotive community for the tooling it provides.


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Otto Bilz Werkzeugfabrik GmbH & Co. (Ostfildern, Germany) has a solid reputation with the European automotive community for the tooling it provides. According to Allan R. Molsbee, managing director, Bilz/RMT Tool Co. (Melrose Park, IL), the domestic version, the company is undertaking an initiative to help gain some of the Detroit-driven market, too.

One of the things that Molsbee thinks will help Bilz get onto more bid lists is the international presence that the pioneer in quick-change tooling for transfer lines and other highly productive machines has. According to Molsbee, "In today's market and global economy, a transfer line may be designed in Detroit, manufactured in Germany, and end up in South America." And so he lists all of the places where Bilz has operations—independently or as a partner in a joint venture—and the locations pretty much cover all of the important terrain.

Tapping quality is assured even in multi-tool setups with the HFP system.

Of course, while position is certainly valuable, people buy technology. So what is it that Bilz has to offer in that regard? Plenty.

First up, there's the SDH System that comes out of the company's British operation, Morris Tooling (Coventry). The system, specifically for multi-spindle drilling, was developed in large part to address some of the needs that were voiced by Ford engine manufacturing personnel in the U.K. This system puts the toolholder in the spindle. There is a simple mating action which is: slide the tool in and then twist into place. There is accurate location and secure locking by the retention adapter. It is designed so that there is a coolant adapter that can be fitted so all the tools used can have coolant if need be (there is no need to inventory additional tools, as there can be with some other systems).

What is most interesting about the SDH setup is that not only does it provide quick toolchange—which is pretty much expected nowadays—but it provides quick, one-handed toolchange. Wrenches and keys aren't required Consider the benefit this provides when there is a multi-tool arrangement: as long as someone can reach in and grasp, the toolchange can be effected.

One of the things that sometimes happens in tapping operations—and never at a good time, because there can't be one—is that for whatever reason (e.g., there is no hole; the hole hasn't been drilled to full depth; there is a broken drill in the hole), the tap can't do its job. Picture the difficulty of dealing with this when there is a multi-tool head involved. One way people are dealing with this is that after drilling is done, a probe is used to assure that the hole is what it is supposed to be.

Bilz has developed what it calls its "HFP" system that not only eliminates the need for the post-drill probing, but which helps assure that in the event that there are problems encountered during tapping, the problem isn't complicated by broken taps.

There are two aspects of HFP. One is that there is a ball clutch adapter used. It works such that if the tool reaches 60% of the torque that will cause it to break, then the holder "collapses," in effect, so that the tool doesn't break but the automatic sequence occurs unimpeded. Which means that the tap is protected. But that's only part of what's needed: The need to know that the hole hasn't been tapped is paramount. HFP takes care of this because there is a detector ring on the tool that gets moved when the safety clutch comes into play. It activates a radio-frequency signal that's picked up by a receiver that then alters the operator that the tapping was not performed to depth.

Finally, there is the Bilz approach to using heat to clamp tools in place. It calls its system "Thermogrip." Fundamentally, an inductive heating coil is used to heat a localized area of a toolholder such that the ID of the toolholder expands. The cutting tool is then slid into place, and when the chuck cools, there is a radial runout of just three microns. Not only is there a 360o grip on the toolshank—critical in high-speed applications—but there are no moving parts in the toolholder. This process can be repeated thousands of times without any degradation of properties.

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