Automatic tool changers are a huge advantage on CNC systems. If you have a job that requires multiple tools, you can load the tools up, start the job, and walk away.
If you have a CNC machine without a tool changer, you have to hang out, change the tool manually, and work out some way to measure or maintain a tool height offsets.
An option between the two extremes is a manual quick change toolholder. A quick change toolholder allows you to change the tool quickly (seconds instead of minutes), sometimes without tools, and maintain a repeatable Z offset. You can enter this Z offset into your CNC system to keep track of your tool heights.
Some systems attach to the spindle and you never touch the draw bar. Some systems use the drawbar or a special drawbar to change the tool. These would probably work best with a power drawbar.
I’ve been looking at quick change tooling systems for small CNC mills. I haven’t tried one yet, but here are the systems I’ve found:
Rapid Toolchanger from High Tech Systems LLC
– Designed for smaller mills, like the Taig and Sherline, this is a tool-less system.
MACH-1 Quick Change Tooling System
– uses a special drawbar and R8 tooling with a retention knob on top.
Royal R8 Quick-Change Tool System
– A tool-less changeover system for R8 spindles.
Tormach Tooling System
– Allows you to keep a consistent height offset as well as measure the height offset away from your machine. To speed up changes you would need a power drawbar. Available in R8 and MT3. There is a company working on a
automatic tool changer based upon this system.
Kwik-Switch II Quick Change Tooling System
– This systems seems to be the most popular on eBay. Available in four sizes, 100, 200, 300, & 400. Tools-n-Gizmos has a large selection in stock.
Rapid Switch Tooling System
– The same system as Kwik-Switch by another manufacturer.
Have suggestions for this list! Please send me an e-mail.