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  1. #1

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    Multi-nozzle smartcool

    Lately I've been getting really tired of constantly adjusting the angle of my coolant nozzles. Between manual tool changes and adjusting/checking/readjusting the coolant spray, my programs require a lot of babysitting that wouldn't otherwise be necessary. The tool change is a separate issue, this thread is about the coolant nozzles. Tormach has their smartcool for a cool five hundo but I don't like that I have to give up my current three nozzle arrangement or lose pressure on all nozzles because I've added a fourth. I had this crazy idea the other day that perhaps I could tie the smartcool module into the nozzles I already have effectively giving me a multi-nozzle smartcool. Did some playing in Fusion and came up with a possible design. There's still a lot of polishing to do before I start making parts but I'm curious what you all think? The intent would be to include an adapter on one end to attach the first nozzle to the servo drive. The linkages between each one then serve to keep all three at (approximately) the same angle.

  2. #2
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    The first question I would ask is whether you need any form of tip tracking or dithering (up and down). If you only want to track part zero the easiest way would be to mount the nozzles on the base or column. This would save you most of the effort and $500. On "normal" sized parts the tool would retract away from the nozzles for tool changes.
    Multiple nozzles should, IMHO, be distributed more around the tool rather than on one side, although this introduces further issues. Your linkage system would then become a little more tricky.
    Step

  3. #3

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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    I have two applications that seem to happen a lot where a wiggle or dither option would be helpful. Deep pocketing being the most problematic, the coolant is typically pointed at or near the tool tip so when it comes time to cut a deep pocket, the stream hits the surface of the part and the chips actually get pushed back into the pocket to be recut until the toolpath allows the coolant stream to spray into the pocket. Even on larger pockets, as the toolpath brings the top surface of the part back around, the stream is interrupted again. The other scenario is finish passes when side cutting. The chips tend to be long due to a big axial doc but very thin so they pile up on the surface behind the cutter. I can't say I've ever noticed a real issue with this but it's always concerned me since it introduces the possibility of recutting chips and leaving a bad surface finish on that final pass.

    Both of those scenarios are helped if the nozzles are more distributed around the tool as you commented on but that does introduce problems (i think?) when it comes time to finally get an ATC in there. No idea if I will buy the tormach unit or come up with my own but in either case I do have concerns about possible interference between the nozzles and tool changer if I spread them around more. As drawn, my design has the nozzles covering 90° around the tool. I could probably go a bit further around without issue but this was drawn in a vacuum, no measurements were taken on the machine to determine spacing or position.

  4. #4
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    I had done some doodles for something similar. A few comments:
    I suspect that there will be significant friction in your linkages plus the joints between coolant and nozzles. I doubt that a SmartCool can supply sufficient torque.

    You'll need protection to keep coolant out of your joints which will further increase friction.
    .
    You don't show the position of the SmartCool but placing it in the centre with the two other nozzles at 120 degrees from the primary nozzle would seem good.

    MQL rather than flood is better for many situations. Three MQL nozzles from one mister may not work well so you might need three mixers.

    It is pretty easy to clone the Tormach SmartCool controller and a single modified controller could point three actuators which might be better than a single actuator with a complicated linkage to three nozzles.

    Just a few thoughts. Please keep us informed of your progress.

  5. #5
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    FWIW: The SmartCool uses an AX12A servomotor, which is rated at ~15 kg*cm max torque, ~4 kg*cm continuous holding torque (depending on cooling.)

  6. #6
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    Not a Tormach-specific solution, but I've recently helped a friend with similar complaints on both of his Fadal 6030's. His chip clearing has improved a bit with Spider-cool servo/stepper driven nozzles, but as with the Tormach he only has two of them per spindle (ATC clearance).

    His problem was similar - deep pockets filled with chips weren't getting cleared effectively. My solution was to run an air line near the coolant manifold on the spindle, and connect it up to a single large-orifice nozzle - like 3/8" ID. The air line is fed by a solenoid valve which is controlled by either a timer relay or a pushbutton. The timer relay is easily adjustable for on/off cycle, and is triggered by an M7. The pushbutton activates the air blast regardless of M7 status.

    The nozzle is aimed just below the bottom of the tool, more or less, and is extremely effective at clearing deep pockets filled with heavy steel chips.

    Yes, it uses a fair amount of air... but he's not had a problem with chips piling up or breaking/chipping tools since I installed the system. It's pretty amusing to hear the machine running when he has it in auto and it's triggering every 5 seconds or so. Good thing he's got a big enclosure - it looks like a snow glob every time the blast cycles.

    For a bonus I added a second air solenoid and pushbutton connected to the coolant line downstream of the pump check valve. He can now blow down the coolant lines close to the spindle - still leaving the bulk of the coolant in the lines - so the nozzles don't dribble for 10 minutes after he's done with the job. Trying to do setups or other work inside the mill was a hassle as you'd get coolant dripping on your head, the part, or whatever. Quick blast before you open the doors and it's all cleared out.

    Maybe $50-$75 in parts since he wanted 'name-brand' components he could replace easily.

    -Ralph

  7. #7
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    Quote Originally Posted by soofle616 View Post
    I have two applications that seem to happen a lot where a wiggle or dither option would be helpful. Deep pocketing being the most problematic, the coolant is typically pointed at or near the tool tip so when it comes time to cut a deep pocket, the stream hits the surface of the part and the chips actually get pushed back into the pocket to be recut until the toolpath allows the coolant stream to spray into the pocket.
    What I was attempting to explain is that this problem is quite obviously due to the coolant nozzles moving up and down with the head and also not compensating for different tool lengths. The SmartCool solution simply corrects these symptoms by adjusting the angle to keep the flow pointed, in this case, where the tool axis meets the top of the part / hole (yes, I'm aware the SmartCool system also has other features).

    Wouldn't it be better/easier to address the problem, rather than the symptoms, by prevening the nozzles moving up and down in the first place? If they are fixed vertically they could be aimed at the point where the tool axis meets the top of the part and would remain there, regardless of XY travel, head movements or tool length offsets. This would even be my preferred mounting position for a SmartERcool (with modified software) if I wanted to add a dither to reach an extended vertical range from the top of the part down to the tool tip. For tool changes the head would simply move up, leaving the nozzles behind at part level. At least for most my work the parts are relatively low in a vise or fixture. The ATC can then do its thing, clear of the nozzles, and return the next tool back down into the coolant flow. No adjustments for tool lengths necessary.

    As the tool changes occur clear of the nozzles they can be arranged all around the machining axis to cover all sides of the part.

    Obviously no one system is perfect for all applications and this approach might not work well for high parts but perhaps just a little more thought is needed. Also having nozzles on all sides might interfere with a 4th axis, but the offending section or nozzles could simply be removable.

    Step

  8. #8
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    I believe that Steve Seebold made a related suggestion years ago. See #12 at https://www.cnczone.com/forums/torma...e-upgrade.html

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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    Quote Originally Posted by kstrauss View Post
    I believe that Steve Seebold made a related suggestion years ago. See #12 at https://www.cnczone.com/forums/torma...e-upgrade.html
    Exactly! Well, perhaps with a little refinement
    Step

  10. #10

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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    Quote Originally Posted by TurboStep View Post
    What I was attempting to explain is that this problem is quite obviously due to the coolant nozzles moving up and down with the head and also not compensating for different tool lengths. The SmartCool solution simply corrects these symptoms by adjusting the angle to keep the flow pointed, in this case, where the tool axis meets the top of the part / hole (yes, I'm aware the SmartCool system also has other features).

    Wouldn't it be better/easier to address the problem, rather than the symptoms, by prevening the nozzles moving up and down in the first place? If they are fixed vertically they could be aimed at the point where the tool axis meets the top of the part and would remain there, regardless of XY travel, head movements or tool length offsets. This would even be my preferred mounting position for a SmartERcool (with modified software) if I wanted to add a dither to reach an extended vertical range from the top of the part down to the tool tip. For tool changes the head would simply move up, leaving the nozzles behind at part level. At least for most my work the parts are relatively low in a vise or fixture. The ATC can then do its thing, clear of the nozzles, and return the next tool back down into the coolant flow. No adjustments for tool lengths necessary.

    As the tool changes occur clear of the nozzles they can be arranged all around the machining axis to cover all sides of the part.

    Obviously no one system is perfect for all applications and this approach might not work well for high parts but perhaps just a little more thought is needed. Also having nozzles on all sides might interfere with a 4th axis, but the offending section or nozzles could simply be removable.

    Step
    I understand what you're getting at but I still see some issues with it both in general, and specific to the parts I make. Your proposed solution does provide a sort of 80/20 solution leaving me to deal with the outlier scenarios of oddball tools or strangely sized parts. I'm sure for most, that makes it a perfect solution. For my purposes, anything that makes the 20% that much more time consuming or difficult to deal with isn't worth the effort because I seem to attract (or maybe am attracted to) those outliers. That said, your solution still doesn't address the problem, it's just a different attack on the symptom. For deep, small pockets, the basic problem is not enough room to get coolant in AND chips out. The solution to the problem is through tool coolant but I'm not willing to go there at this point. That being the case, my options would seem to be my approach, or yours (always open to other suggestions though). both of which have pros and cons. Mine is certainly more expensive and more complicated but for my application I believe (and could very well find out im wrong) that it will provide me with the best results across the broadest range of situations. Yours is much cheaper and easier to implement but will still require manual adjustment for each part and in some cases will have to be removed or altered to make room for the things I'm trying to do.

    To some of the other comments:
    Air blast is on my list to add as well, I have seen first hand how effective that can be. I'm thinking about adding a second feed line to this same arrangement so the nozzles can be used for both purposes. A pair of solenoid valves can serve to open the air line while simultaneously closing the coolant line to prevent the air blast from back feeding into the coolant system.
    Chip collection in my linkages is something I had not considered so I will have to think that through a little and see if there is an easy solution to that. Perhaps a semi rigid piece of tubing can be used instead of the linkage, depending on the torque involved in moving the nozzles. Alternatively, a flexible tube could encapsulate the whole linkage arrangement and serve as a seal to keep everything out.

  11. #11
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    An alternate solution might be to have a nozzle assembly (ring?) that is automatically moved up/down rather than a single/double/triple nozzle that is rotated to direct to the desired location. In a previous discussion of this matter I had suggested that the ideal might be to have a nozzle that is able to move up/down and also to rotate around the spindle such that the stream is tangent to the tool path (rather like what is needed for a drag knife cutting fabric).

    To keep chips out of your joints I suspect that a flexible hose enclosing the linkages and attached to the sides of the nozzle mounts would suffice.

  12. #12
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    What the pros do is just add volume and pressure. 50 gallon coolant tank, full horsepower pump, a dozen nozzles on a ring around the spindle, set at a variety of target heights, seems to do most of the work just fine...
    For us with smaller, less watertight enclosures, I think the "aim the stream" is a reasonable workaround.

  13. #13
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    Not everyone just uses a bigger pump.

    Haas has an option similar to Tormach's SmartCool called “Pcool”. Betztechnik has “Accublast” which uses a coolant connection rather like soofle616's design instead of just flexing the hose as with SmartCool. (https://www.betztechnik.ca/uploads/2...2019-10-06.pdf).

  14. #14

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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    A halo that moves vertically would definitely do the trick. Probably doable with a similar arrangement to the smartcool, just requiring a different linkage/drive system to convert rotary to linear movement.
    I think the "drag knife" approach would be amazing but the implementation is beyond my python abilities at the moment. Another thought based on that would be a pair of opposing nozzles on a ring. The nozzle would need a slight angle to it so that coolant pressure causes it to spin around the ring much a dishwasher sprayer. Not exactly a tangential drag knife setup but would provide a constantly variable coolant angle that should give good coverage regardless of toolpath direction. That has some very real plumbing and/or sealing challenges though.

  15. #15
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    Not everyone just uses a bigger pump.
    Sure!
    Bigger machines can also give you through-tool coolant!
    And the "true pros" high-speed machining people run fully dry, and use tool geometry that puts all of the heat in the chip, which then sprays away from the work and tool. Science! Apparently needs > 20,000 rpm for cutting 4140 this way, but can be done. (I wish I was at that level, but I'm nowhere near :-D )

  16. #16
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    Quote Originally Posted by jwatte View Post
    Sure!
    Bigger machines can also give you through-tool coolant!
    And the "true pros" high-speed machining people run fully dry, and use tool geometry that puts all of the heat in the chip, which then sprays away from the work and tool. Science! Apparently needs > 20,000 rpm for cutting 4140 this way, but can be done. (I wish I was at that level, but I'm nowhere near :-D )
    Maybe some sort of surface op! Or maybe a large round pocket! Otherwise your ducks better be in order.
    imho pockets can be problematic even in wood
    Inside corners, and other features that vary tool engagement can make high speed machining very dramatic.
    Anyway I recommend keeping doors closed on machine

  17. #17

    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    Not on a Tormach here, but I don't see why this solution wouldn't work (I'm not familiar with the Tormach pump specs). I just use five nozzles, I set them all at different angles and heights. The higher shots just clear the nut on my TTS ER20 collets (all I use except for my Tormach slitting saw) and aim mostly downwards. The lower shots come in more perpendicular to the tool and get close-ish to the tip of the tools I use. Obviously with a variety of tools this changes with each tool change. It's nice to have a nozzle that are fairly parallel (comparatively to the long length) to the tool, this gives a nice range of spray over various length tools. I actually use a fan shape spray for that, then orient the fan so it covers more distance along the tool length (I modified a round outlet nozzle for this). For the more perpendicular sprays, it's more of a cleaning action, it doesn't always spray where the tool is, but due to retracts and XY movement it tends to clean out pockets and clean off surfaces. It's basically a really unintelligent way of getting coolant to most of the places it needs to be. Of course sometimes I have issues and will hit feed hold, stop the spindle, and then adjust the coolant nozzles. It doesn't help that my knock-off lock line is a spot loose and moves around on its own sometimes.

    Anyways, an" intelligent" system would be great. I've considered some sort of design of my own several times. In my case, it just seems like a very big project for a very minor gain.

  18. #18
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    The Tormach standard pump doesn't have enough flow to make five nozzles spray with sufficient pressure to clear chips.

  19. #19
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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    I've had twin coolant nozzles set at constant Z height since I first installed my Mill. Made a distribution/splitter block bolted underneath the bellows, and 2 x 1/2" copper pipes running up either side of the column. I use the 1/8" nozzles to get a higher pressure jet, and it's fantastic at chip clearing.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  20. #20

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    Re: Multi-nozzle smartcool

    Quote Originally Posted by CL_MotoTech View Post
    In my case, it just seems like a very big project for a very minor gain.
    Most of my projects are but that's what makes me happy. Where the rest of the world is (justifiably) happy with 80/20, I'm a big fan of 1/99. Can't really say why other than it's the way I've always been. Once I know there's room for better, I'm not happy until I get there. Which is usually why I am never finished with any of my projects, my skill does not live up to my expectations.

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