A rotary table is a precision mechanical device used in metalworking and manufacturing to rotate a workpiece around a fixed axis, providing the ability to make precise cuts and create intricate parts with extreme accuracy. These devices are essential for operations requiring circular motion or specific angular positioning, such as drilling holes in a precise pattern, cutting gears, or shaping complex angles.
Popular Types of Rotary Tables
Available in manual or motorized variants, rotary tables can be mounted horizontally or vertically and are a critical asset in various industries, enhancing the capabilities of milling machines and improving overall workshop productivity. In the realm of precision positioning and machining, various types of rotary tables are employed, each offering distinct advantages depending on the specific requirements of the task at hand.
Air Bearing Rotary Tables
Air bearing rotary tables stand out due to their ability to provide virtually frictionless motion, resulting in minimal wear and tear even after prolonged use. These tables utilize a thin layer of compressed air to support and stabilize the surface, ensuring not only smooth rotation but also exceptional precision and accuracy. This makes them particularly suited for high-precision applications in industries like semiconductor manufacturing, metrology, and wherever sub-micron accuracy is critical. Moreover, the absence of mechanical contact means there’s no need for lubrication, which significantly reduces maintenance requirements and operational costs.
Oil Hydrostatic Rotary Tables
Oil hydrostatic rotary tables offer high load-carrying capacity, making them ideal for handling heavy workpieces. They operate by maintaining a film of pressurized oil between the table’s surface and its base, allowing even heavy objects to be positioned with precision and ease. This type of rotary table is known for its rigidity and high damping capacity, reducing vibrations even under heavy cutting loads. These characteristics make oil hydrostatic rotary tables a popular choice in fields requiring the machining of large, heavy components, such as the aerospace and energy sectors.
Mechanical Bearing Rotary Tables
Mechanical bearing rotary tables are widely used due to their versatility and range of application in various industrial settings. These tables use traditional mechanical bearings to support the table and facilitate rotation. While they might not offer the same level of precision as air bearing or oil hydrostatic tables, they compensate with their durability, ability to withstand higher loads, and typically lower cost. They are ideal for applications that require robust performance rather than ultra-high precision, making them a practical choice for many general manufacturing processes.
Air Bearing vs Oil Hydrostatic vs Mechanical Bearing
Choosing the right rotary table hinges on understanding key differences among the primary types: air bearing, oil hydrostatic, and mechanical bearing.
- Precision and Operation: Air bearing tables reign supreme in precision and frictionless movement, ideal for applications demanding microscopic accuracy. Oil hydrostatic models provide robust precision with excellent damping, suitable for heavier machining. Mechanical bearing versions, while less precise, offer reliable performance for general tasks.
- Load Capacity: Oil hydrostatic tables excel in handling heavy workpieces due to their superior load capacity and rigidity, while mechanical bearing tables are also good for higher loads but with less damping. Air bearing tables, though precise, are not built for extremely heavy-duty tasks.
- Maintenance and Durability: Mechanical bearing tables are known for durability and require standard maintenance. In contrast, air bearing models, with fewer wear-prone components, need a clean, regulated air environment, and oil hydrostatic versions demand regular oil checks to maintain performance.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Mechanical bearing rotary tables are generally the most affordable, benefiting from a simpler design and wider applicability. Air bearing tables, though costly, justify their price with high precision, whereas oil hydrostatic tables also command higher expenses, both upfront and in ongoing maintenance.
What to look for when buying Rotary Tables
Purchasing a rotary table is a significant investment, and understanding the critical specifications is key to ensuring you get the right tool for your applications. Here are essential factors to consider:
- Diameter of the Table: The table diameter directly influences the size of the workpiece that can be accommodated. Larger diameters allow for larger workpieces, but also require more machine space. Choose a diameter that fits your typical workpiece size and workshop space.
- Measurement of Through-Hole Diameter: The through-hole diameter is crucial if you’re working with materials that need to be fed through the center of the table or require central fixturing. Ensure the hole is large enough for your workpieces or any tooling accessories you might use.
- Maximum Radial Load: This refers to the load that can be applied perpendicular to the table’s axis. It’s vital to know this limit to prevent overload and potential damage. Select a table that can handle the maximum weight of your heaviest workpieces.
- Maximum Axial Load of the Table: The axial load capacity is the load that the table can bear along its vertical axis. This is crucial when the table is used in a vertical position. Exceeding this limit can cause malfunction or damage, so choose a table with an axial load capacity that suits your needs.
- Table Rotation Speed: Different applications require different rotation speeds. Higher speeds may be necessary for processes like rapid cutting, while lower speeds are essential for tasks requiring more precision. Consider a table that offers a speed range compatible with your operations.
- Minimum Indexing Increment (Smallest Angle Setting on the Table): The minimum indexing increment is the smallest angle by which you can rotate or position the table. Smaller increments allow for higher precision, essential in tasks like gear cutting or creating detailed angular cuts. Opt for a table that provides the precision required by your most intricate tasks.
Applications for Rotary Tables
Rotary tables are versatile tools, integral to various industries due to their precision positioning capabilities. Here’s how they’re utilized across different applications:
- Machining Applications: In machining, rotary tables are indispensable for creating features at precise intervals or specific angles on a workpiece. They’re crucial for operations such as drilling equidistant holes, cutting circular pieces, milling curved slots, or shaping complex angles, typically in the automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing industries. Their ability to rotate workpieces with high precision makes them ideal for detailed tasks like cutting gears or creating intricate components.
- Automation Applications: In automated environments, rotary tables are used to enhance the efficiency and precision of production processes. They’re often integrated into robotic systems to expediently position parts for various tasks like welding, laser cutting, or painting, ensuring consistent quality and significantly increasing throughput. Their precision and repeatability make them vital in industries seeking to automate delicate or complex tasks.
- Assembly Applications: Rotary tables find extensive use in assembly lines, where they serve as reliable stations for the systematic assembly of components. By rotating to present the workpiece to different assembly positions, they facilitate operations like component insertion, screwdriving, or sub-assembly addition, all while ensuring each part is correctly aligned and positioned, thereby improving assembly accuracy and efficiency.
- Equipment Positioning: Precision and stability are paramount in scientific and medical equipment, and rotary tables are key in achieving this. They’re used to accurately position laboratory apparatus, medical devices, or instrumentation panels, ensuring optimal orientation for critical processes or readings. This precise positioning is crucial in applications requiring a high degree of accuracy, such as imaging systems or specimen analysis equipment.
- Assembly Positioning: Beyond facilitating the assembly process, rotary tables are crucial for the precise positioning of the assembly setup itself. They ensure that tools, components, or work stations are correctly aligned within the production environment, which is vital in industries where a slight misalignment could lead to significant errors or quality issues. This is particularly important in electronics assembly, aerospace component assembly, or any sector requiring meticulous attention to detail.
Accessories for Rotary Tables
To enhance functionality and adapt to various tasks, rotary tables can be equipped with several accessories. These additions expand capabilities, improve precision, and increase the efficiency of operations. Here are some common accessories:
- Tailstocks: Tailstocks provide additional support for long workpieces being machined on a rotary table, ensuring stability and accuracy during operations. They are particularly useful when the workpiece extends significantly beyond the table’s surface, helping to prevent deflection during machining.
- Chuck Adapters: Chuck adapters allow the attachment of different types of chucks to the rotary table, enabling the secure holding of various workpieces. These adapters are essential for tasks that require the quick changing of workpieces or when dealing with components of different shapes and sizes.
- Index Plates: For applications requiring specific rotational increments or divisions (like gear cutting), index plates are crucial. They allow the operator to rotate the table to precise, repeatable angles, ensuring consistent spacing between features like holes or slots.
- Clamping Kits: Securing the workpiece is vital for precision and safety. Clamping kits include a range of clamps, brackets, and supports that can be used to firmly hold workpieces of various sizes and shapes to the rotary table.
- Rotary Table Guards: Safety is paramount in any machining operation. Rotary table guards provide a protective barrier around the table, helping to prevent accidents involving hands or clothing, and protecting the operator from flying debris during cutting or drilling processes.
- Cable Carriers: For motorized or CNC rotary tables, cable carriers ensure that cables and hoses are neatly organized and protected from wear and tear. They’re essential for maintaining a safe and uncluttered workspace, especially in automated setups.
- Rotary Table Controllers: Especially relevant for programmable or CNC rotary tables, specialized controllers allow for the precise programming of rotation speed, angle, and other critical parameters. They enable complex, automated tasks and ensure repeatability and precision in continuous production environments.
Tips & Tricks
You won’t have much trouble finding a specific type of rotary table on Surplus Record. At the top of all the pages on our website, you’ll see a search bar. Type the phrase “rotary table” into it, click on the category that drops down, and examine the options we have available.
We also work with a variety of dealers who specialize in rotary tables. You can also find dealers in your area or by name who specialize in rotary tables.