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Definition of a keyseating machine
A keyseating machine is a cutting machine tool, used to produce internal grooves in hollow profiles. It is used when a lathe or milling machine cannot be used.
The function of a keyseater
A keyseating machine works along a vertical, linear movement and uses a one-sided draw knife for cutting. This removes material off the workpiece bit by bit using an even, downward motion. The width of the groove is determined by the corresponding ground knife. The depth of the groove is determined by the number of strokes. This is why these machines are related to planers. A keyseater is used to create uniform grooves on particularly tight hollow profiles. The form-fitting connection between the knife and the workpiece creates an exact and uniform cutting movement. They are very precise machines; their axes are particularly parallel. The one-sided draw knife uses a cutting, rather than a machining process, which ensures a particularly high quality surface.
Areas of application of keyseating machines
These internal grooves are created for full floating axles, carriers and springs. Another use is the uniform and simultaneous production of internal grooves in a row of workpieces. When simultaneously processing several workpieces in one machine, there is a particularly high level of consistency between the created geometries. Gear teeth and full floating axles are typical components, whose internal grooves are produced using keyseating machines.
The structure of a keyseating machine
The advantage of these machines is that they have a very compact construction. Contrary to expansive lathes or voluminous milling machines, most keyseating machines are no bigger than 2 meters squared. A cover is mounted upon a square base frame made out of either a welded or grey cast iron construction. On top of the cover there is the work table with a clamping device and the tool guide. The machine can be adjusted. This means: the single sided cutting knife is built in; the feed and the speed of the stroke are adjusted; the workpiece is put into place and clamped in; and then the process is started. Once it has started, the cutting work is done almost independently. Contrary to lathes or milling machines, a keyseating machine can have a high rotation speed. Therefore, their processes do not result in any flying chippings. Therefore, keyseating machines can usually be used without a cover or extraction systems. A cooling lubricant extends the working life of the cutting tool. Due to the minimal processing speed, keyseating does not produce as high of temperatures as turning and milling processes. However, the development of heat can lead to expansion of the cutting head and workpiece’s materials. This results in a loss of quality and a high level of wear and tear. Therefore, the use of a cooling lubricant is required for every keyseating process. Keyseaters work either mechanically, hydraulically or by using ball screws. Keyseating machines are not as flexible as lathes or milling machines in processing workpieces. They only undertake their one task – the production of grooves – but with a high level of precision and safety. They are most suited for facilities, which have a high requirement for keyseating processes. Here, keyseating machines can be used in the machine parks instead of milling machines and lathes.
Working with a keyseating machine
Despite the fact that they can run independently, keyseating machines are more suited for trained cutting machine operators, rather than assistants. If untrained assistants, or those who are new to the field, want to use a keyseater machine, and particularly a used keyseater, it is necessary that they undertake training. This is particularly important for work safety and quality assurance. Monitoring the produced dimensions is just as important during series production of components, as it is on other cutting machines. The cutting blades wear out continuously, which leads to the tolerances not being met. Internal groves are mainly used for constructive and dynamic components. Faulty tolerances can be visible in the construction because the built-in components can jam when the machine heats up. These can then only be dismantled if destructed. If the customer discovers the incorrect dimensions for the specified tolerances, then the manufacturer of the components could receive high recourse claims. Therefore, it is important to continually monitor the quality. Since the blades wear out relatively continuously, regular spot tests are enough to notice if the tolerances no longer fit in time. The keyseating process usually ends up forming burrs along its output points. These are very sharp and pose a high risk of injury and damage. Therefore, it is usually required to have a deburring stage during the keyseating process. Usually a standard drilling machine with a grinding head or a hand-held grinding machine is enough. This work is typically undertaken by trained assistants.
Just like all cutting machines, keyseaters produce a large amount of waste. This needs to be continuously removed and properly disposed of. The chippings are very sharp, and should only be handled when wearing gloves. If cooling lubricants are used, it is necessary to clean the produced component. If there is no cleaning station, this task can be undertaken by assistants.
The efficiency of a keyseating machine
The keyseating process is slower than turning or milling work. This is due to the linear movement of the cutting knife, which can only be used on one side. The upward movement of the keyseating machine always occurs on an idle stroke. This reduces the speed of the keyseater machine by another factor. Large keyseating machines reach speeds of up to 20-48m/min. However, this is not comparable to the high speeds of lathes and milling machines. The main advantages of these machines are that they can work independently and do not require much space. Therefore, they are suited to use the available space as efficiently as possible during mechanical production. If a company uses a high number of components with internal grooves, it is a very useful option to use several keyseating machines.
Keyseating machine manufacturers
Keyseaters for sale are special machines, which are not available from the established machine manufacturers. Keyseating machines are products made by specialist companies, which are highly experienced and provide an excellent level of quality. Particularly recommended suppliers are TGW, WGW, STUHLMANN, BALZAT, FRÖMAG, MARIO BEYER, CHRISTIAN GIERTH and the LEISTRITZ GROUP.