ATC(Automatic Tool Changer)

What is an automatic tool changer?

An automatic tool changer improves the production and tool-carrying capacity of a CNC machine by changing tools very quickly without the help of a manual operator. In doing so, the ATC dramatically reduces downtime on a given project. ATCs are generally used to improve the capacity of a machine to work with several tools at one time, but they can also be used to change out worn or broken tools. There are generally two types of automatic tool changers – rotary-style and linear-style – which vary in the number of tools present within the changer.

An automatic tool changer typically consists of:
• Base
• Gripper arm
• Tool holder
• Support arm
• Tool magazines (where the tools are stored)

How does an automatic tool changer work?

Once set up on your CNC machine, an automatic tool changer follows a quick set of steps to swap tools in and out. Here’s how it works.

1. The tool change command is given to the machine via the computer.
2. The tool to be changed assumes a fixed position known as the “tool change position.”
3. The ATC spindle moves to that position to pick up the tool.
4. The z-axis moves between the machine tool rack/rotary to pick up/drop off tooling.
5. Internally, the spindle opens or closes the chuck to exchange tooling before returning back to work.

In a matter of seconds, an ATC enables you to switch tools automatically without any need for human involvement (apart from programming the change).

What are the benefits of an automatic tool changer?

An automatic CNC tool changer has numerous significant benefits in the shop, including:
Ability to switch between a large number of tools without requiring a human operator
Increased accuracy
Increased efficiency
Reduced labor cost
Reduced downtime and total production time
Increased tool storage capacity
Increased machine versatility
Increased safety for employees and equipment
Ability to change larger and heavier tools with ease
Increased edge finish due to more appropriate tooling per process