Good Balance Increases Tool LifeTool balance is an important factor to consider for optimizing your cutting tools’ performance.  Improperly balanced tools will cause poor part finish, uneven tool wear, reduced tool life, noise and possible machine spindle failure and damage. 

Some things to keep in mind when considering tool balance:  even though you have a perfectly balanced holder and perfectly balanced tool, every time the tool is changed the balance of the entire system can be off due to inaccuracies in the clamping.  Make sure you are starting out with balanced components and that you are doing everything you can to locate that tool accurately each time it is changed out.  

ISO standard for cutting tool balance is a G2.5.  With today’s high-speed spindles, that rating falls a bit short when getting to RPM ranges above 24,000. The two key factors to keep in mind with regard to balance are speed (RPM) and diameter.  The higher the speed or the bigger the diameter, the more important the balance becomes.

Protecting your machine’s spindle is very important to the overall life and efficiency of your routing tools and, obviously, the machine tool itself.  Here are some quick do’s and don’ts:

• Set up a warm-up cycle, especially if the machine is not used every day.

• Do not leave tooling in the spindle overnight or for long periods of time (this can reduce drawbar spring life).

• Do not use unbalanced tools.

• Watch for any marks or discoloring on the tool holder taper (these may be indicators of a problem).

• Keep tooling in good condition.

• Heed the manufacturer’s spindle manual (if unusual jobs come along such as repeated drilling cycles or something else out of the ordinary, check the manual to make sure that your spindle is rated for the application).

Also make sure that you use only clean, dry, filtered air for the pneumatic tool changer, clean filtered water if the spindle is water cooled and proper inverter settings and a clean power source.

Source: Mike Serwa is vice president, Vortex Tool Co. For information visit or call (800) 355-7708
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