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Building a handful of specialized machines over several decades, my brother, Chris, and I have evolved our process for building machines, which doesn’t necessarily follow standard practice, but works for us. Designing our machines usually starts with a need that appears to be low hanging fruit to exploit. Machining nut plates on the CNC takes away machine time from making more valuable parts. Making nut plates on a dedicated device could release many hours of production time from the CNC and allow us to keep up with MicroRAX demand.
We searched the market for something that might do the job, or yield ideas for what might work. We found some ideas, but nothing that wouldn’t require extensive tooling or modification, or other drawbacks.
So decision made, a nut plate making machine is now worth the effort to build, what’s next?
The exciting part, what does this machine need to do? Listing requirements we think this system needs to make nut plates is the first step we take before putting pen to paper or mouse to CAD. We have this, kind of a brainstorm that might change during the build, not in any particular order:
1. Run until set count is reached.
2. Feed blanks to programmed length and pitch within 0.1mm tolerance (standard is 10mm between tapped holes).
3. Run with or without fixed pitch guide pin (so pitches other than standard 10mm can be run).
4. Drill No. 40, 0.098” tap hole.
5. Cut tap M3 x 0.5 threaded holes
6. Cut off saw independently actuated for programmable lengths.
7. Less than 5 second tap cycle (two per standard nut plate).
8. Can run dual tracks of stock.
9. Track tool wear, indicate tool to replace.
10. Pause at end of stock.
11. Rugged construction for continuous use.
1. Load raw blanks from magazine until empty.
2. Indicator lights for remote viewing of status, done, alarm, reload.
3. Display of count, settings, status, type, tool life.
Now, something to sink our teeth into.
Next up: Part three, drilling and tapping.
MicroRAX auto saw showing where MicroRAX 10mm beam is clamped and cut: