The woodworking sector is remarkably diverse, manufacturing a plethora of product types in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The CNC machinery used to produce these products therefore requires an equally comprehensive range of clamping systems and technologies to allow efficient machining and profiling operations. In many cases the components, often flat boards, are secured using vacuum technology which allows the workpiece to be processed on five sides in a single processing step.

Virtually any CNC machining centre, regardless of manufacturer and type, can be retrofitted with a vacuum clamping system. The adoption of vacuum clamping enables fast and flexible set-up in instances where there are frequent product changes, making it possible to achieve a batch size of one if needed, whilst still maintaining high efficiency levels.

Secure vacuum clamping

CNC machining processes often generate high cutting forces that require secure clamping, with structured and three-dimensional surfaces presenting additional challenges.

Addressing these machining and application characteristics, Schmalz offers a broad range of clamping equipment for all table types, and machines from various manufacturers, and is therefore able to provide complete, cross-manufacturer, and tailored clamping solutions for vacuum-operated machine tables.

Schmalz vacuum clamping systems are available for single and dual circuit systems, and plastic, or aluminium vacuum blocks are available as required, together with a range of adap-tor plates. These systems are suitable for a wide range of configurations and applications including nesting tables, flat tables, grid systems and manual workstations.

Schmalz clamping solutions enable the quick and simple setup of CNC machining centres with flat tables. First the vacuum blocks and then the workpiece are fixed for machine pro-cessing via two independent vacuum circuits. Schmalz provides vacuum blocks with a hose connection for universal flat tables and a hose-free version for flat aluminium tables with inte-grated vacuum distribution.

Schmalz also offers a modular system for use on SCM and Morbidelli console tables, which is compatible with the original equipment. This system is available in various dimensions and working heights with accessories for a wide range of woodworking applications, providing safe clamping of demanding workpieces with curved contours or rough surfaces.

A separate range of mechanical clamping blocks are also available for machining operations on frames and window profiles etc. For example, the new VCMC-QUICK range is particularly suitable for clamping narrow and curved workpieces such as frame parts or window profiles and have a clamping range of 10-100mm. During set-up, the clamp is positioned securely on the machine table mechanically, with single-circuit console systems, or by vacuum, with double-circuit console systems, or with mounting brackets for use with grid tables. The special feature of the VCMC-QUICK is its multi-part, triangular clamping plate. This enables tool-free and therefore extremely fast clamping height adjustment.

The user releases the lock by simply turning the upper turntable by hand - this creates a gap between the turntable and the clamping plate. By pressing these parts together, the clamping plate is unlocked and can be adjusted to the desired height. It can be moved continuously over the entire adjustment range and locks into place in 5mm increments. Then, by tightening the upper turntable, the complete clamping plate is locked again and is ready for use.

This quick set-up function allows the desired clamping height to be set within a few seconds. To further simplify set-up, users can optionally expand the VCMC-QUICK clamping system with a positioning aid and a clamping unit. To clamp the workpiece, the user activates the clamping device via the operating vacuum of the CNC machining centre. With a clamping force of up to 700 Newton and special friction materials on the clamping plate and surface, the clamping system holds workpieces reliably in position even with large machining forces.

For effortless gripping on small and medium sized workpieces Schmalz offers the stand-alone VC-M system. This also allows workpieces to be processed from all sides and has a useful continuous rotate and pivot function. Integrated vacuum generation, through the Ven-turi principle, can be operated on any conventional compressed air supply. This system is more gentle on the workpiece than conventional mechanical clamping systems thanks to soft friction and sealing materials.

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