Smart iTENDO, the intelligent toolholder from SCHUNK

Vibrations, chatter marks, tool failure – what has so far robbed many a machine operator of sleep will soon be a thing of the past: With the smart iTENDO hydraulic expansion toolholder, SCHUNK and startup company TOOL IT present the world’s first intelligent toolholder that monitors the machining process directly at the tool, and allows real-time control of the cutting parameters.

The intelligent toolholders from SCHUNK were designed in cooperation with the Vienna University of Technology and TOOL IT GmbH, Vienna. They fully use the potential of integrated process monitoring directly where the chip is formed. SCHUNK calls this strategy “closest-to-the-part”, whereby the intelligence is integrated directly into the first wear-free element of the machine equipment that is closest to the workpiece. The smart tool is offered in the first step in combination with SCHUNK TENDO hydraulic expansion toolholders from 2019, allowing complete documentation of process stability, unmanned limit value monitoring, tool breakage detection, and real-time control of the speed of rotation and feed rate.

“The iTENDO is a milestone in toolholder technology,” emphasizes Chief Executive Officer, Henrik A. Schunk. “For the first time, we combine the outstanding mechanical properties of our flagship TENDO with the possibilities of digital process monitoring.” According to Friedrich Bleicher, the Managing Board Director of the Institute for Manufacturing Technology (IFT) of Vienna University of Technology and founder of TOOL IT, the intelligent toolholder makes a unique synergy possible: “Embedded systems technology combine the highest degree of process transparency with the potential of autonomous process control without users having to do without the quality and performance of proven precision toolholders,” explains Bleicher.

Geometry and performance data remain unchanged with sensors data

The toolholders with integrated process intelligence have the same interfering contours as the conventional toolholder mountings. The use of cooling lubricant is possible as usual. Equipped with a sensor, battery, and transmitting unit, the intelligent system records the process directly on the tool, transmits the data wirelessly to a receiving unit in the machine room, and from there via cable to a control and evaluation unit, where the data are analyzed. An algorithm continuously determines a parameter for process stability. Depending on the particular application, a web service can be used to define both the exact limits and corresponding reactions if they are exceeded. The entire process data remains within the closed control loop of the machine, ensuring the highest possible data security.

Permanent process control and regulation

During machining, the intelligent toolholder permanently analyzes the machining process. If the process becomes unstable, it can either be stopped in real time and without the intervention of the operator, reduced to previously defined basic parameters, or adapted until the cut returns to a stable range. On the one hand, the system enables complete documentation and limit value monitoring as well as an improvement of the machining quality by automatically adjusting the cutting data during vibration. Moreover, the intelligent toolholders should additionally enable an analysis of the tool condition as well as an increase in the metal removal rate. The system is extremely easy to retrofit without the need for modification or replacement of machine components. Since the algorithms run autonomously and the operator defines only exact limit and reactions, no expert assessment of the data determined is necessary. Instead, the system manages the process autonomously and in real time based on the specifications.

Part of the standard program from 2019

In a first step, SCHUNK offers the intelligent toolholder mountings custom-tailored in the project business. At the beginning of 2019, standardization is planned within the toolholder program. In addition to TENDO hydraulic expansion toolholders, further toolholders from the SCHUNK total tooling program will be equipped with intelligent sensor systems in the future.