Product innovations implemented quickly and flexibly through teamwork

A team from the Training and Research & Development divisions have further developed a drill chuck that has great benefits for in-house manufacturing. These benefits were immediately met with a positive market response: The optimised drill chuck is already listed in the catalogue of an important distributor. The WTE apprentices were of vital importance to this project - they quickly implemented the innovation in their own work, tested it and use it on their machines today.

Conventional lathes that have tool adapters with shank form DIN 228 may be somewhat older machines, but many of them are still used in manufacturing. This is the case at the training and teaching centres at the MAPAL sites in Ehrenfriedersdorf and Aalen, as well as in other locations.

The machines do not have an internal coolant supply. Rather, they are equipped with an adjustable tube, which cools the tools from the outside. Deeper drilling gives rise to the following issue: the drill’s cutting edges either don’t have any coolant supply or don’t have an adequate coolant supply once the drill has been inserted into the workpiece. The result: the friction that occurs can cause the drill to heat up so much that it anneals. This has a negative effect on the quality of the bore and can potentially damage the workpiece and drill. 

Putting a product idea into practice in an unconventional way

At the WTE training centre in Ehrenfriedersdorf, which simultaneously functions as a facility for fixture and prototype manufacturing, there was general dissatisfaction with this state of affairs – which is no doubt also true of other manufacturing plants, as Andy Reuther, Head of Training at WTE, reports: “And because there was no drill chuck for these machines on the market that had an internal coolant supply, we came up with the idea of developing one ourselves.” Together with the Research and Development department, it was discussed how an already-existing drill chuck could be quickly and easily adapted so that it could accommodate an internal cooling system. Andy Reuther stresses: “Our apprentices work on these machines a lot, so we gladly included them in the brainstorming process for the new product and its development. For us, it was important not to reinvent the wheel, but to fall back on already-existing parts so we could have a finished product as quickly as possible.”

A technical solution was found for this in the form of a quick connect coupling that you might recognise from a garden hose. The quick connect coupling is connected to the chuck radially and can be integrated into the machine’s cooling circuit without issue. The coolant is fed into the chuck through the coupling, is transported forwards centrally through the chuck and the clamped drill and comes out right at the cutting edges – i.e. where cooling is necessary and where, with the help of the coolant, the chips are removed from the drilled bore.

“Because we worked together closely with everyone involved, we were able to implement the new development quickly and easily”, reports Andy Reuther. “Our apprentices are therefore directly involved in the development process, providing suggestions and feedback as well as helping with implementation. This speeds up the process and is a great opportunity for the apprentices to get involved and occupy themselves with products in a more detailed way.