Unlocking the Power of RapidChange ATC
Automating CNC machining has become fascinating for hobbyist and commercial CNC users.The need for a simple and affordable automatic tool change solution led to the emergence of RapidChange ATC, which allows the benefits of ATC to existing machines without an expensive ATC spindle upgrade. Minimizing downtime and maximizing productivity. This innovative system revolutionizes the tool-changing process on new and existing CNC machines. There are some requirements for compatibility with this system. By the end of this read you will have an understanding of how the RapidChange ATC system works and the parameters for integrating an existing CNC machine.
Understanding RapidChange ATC
At its core, the RapidChange ATC is designed to automate and expedite the tool-changing process during CNC machining. Traditional setups that involve manual tool changes, lead to downtime and decreased productivity. RapidChange ATC is a tool holder magazine with spring loaded sockets. The cutting tool is held in a spring collet, both resting in the clamping nut. The clamping nut is held in a patent pending socket with the magazine aligned along the X or Y axes.Socket geometry holds the collet assembly against rotation while allowing deflection along the Z axis as the spindle plunges to release or pick up the tool. With the socket acting as a wrench by holding the clamping nut against rotation while the spindle does the job of the second wrench by spinning into the clamping nut. The socket is spring loaded to allow deflection as the nut is spun off and pushes the socket down simultaneously. The ATC magazine acts as the storage unit for various tools, ensuring quick access when needed. Each tool is securely held in a tool holder, which is precisely positioned for accurate and efficient tool changes.
The Crucial Components
To integrate RapidChange ATC seamlessly into your CNC setup, it’s essential to understand the key components involved. Misalignment in the X and Y axes can occur due to events like crashes or step losses. This becomes evident during tool pickup or drop-off resulting in either a rough-sounding engagement or no engagement at all. The control interface serves as the brain of the operation, orchestrating the entire process with precision allowing the spindle ATC functionality. Understanding the synergy between these components is paramount to harnessing the full potential of RapidChange ATC. Spindles must be controllable via g-code to run at 1200 RPM counter-clockwise (CCW) in order to make a tool change. Standard trim routers such as DeWalt are not applicable as they do not allow RPM slow enough and will damage the Magazine. 90 mm Z axis clearance is needed to position the magazine on the machine bed without being inset. Will It Work For Me?
Requirements for a Smooth Integration
Efficiency is not just about the tool changer itself; it’s also about how well it integrates into your existing CNC setup. Before diving into the installation process, ensure that your CNC machine meets the necessary requirements. This includes checking spindle capability, ensuring adequate power and control capabilities. Additionally, consider the space and accessibility for the ATC magazine to operate seamlessly. By addressing these essential requirements, you will pave the way for a smooth integration of RapidChange ATC, unlocking a new level of efficiency in your CNC machining endeavors.
G-code Sender Software Compatibility
The RapidChange team is striving to make RapidChange ATC compatible with as many platforms as possible. There are many “Boxed” CNC machines available with their own proprietary controls that are very limited in what they can do with custom macros and spindle control. Our recommendation for determining the compatibility of a machine falling into this category is to contact the manufacturer and ask them these questions:
Can I create custom macros? Particularly M6?
Can I run the spindle counter-clockwise with G-code?
Can the spindle be programmed to run at a minimum of 500rpm?
RapidChange ATC Magazine offers the following integration packages. Upon purchase of a magazine customers are given access to all of the current and future resources that we have available for integrating with your machine.
FluidNC -we currently have modified builds of v3.4.3 and v3.7.8 with WebUI/yaml support for configuring RapidChange along with M6 and M61 support for fully automatic tool changes.
Mach 3 -we have a screen set available for configuring RapidChange and scripts for M6 and other useful macros.
UCCNC-we have a plugin available for configuring RapidChange and scripts for M6 and other useful macros.
Centroid Acorn -we now have a config macro available for configuring RapidChange and scripts for M6 and other useful macros.
We have introduced a macro that will probe the spindle face to use as a baseline for tool length offset independent of the work offset. This means that every time a tool change occurs the tool length is updated in the table tool table. This is different from the way we currently handle offsets in Mach3 and UCCNC however we will be updating those to have the same functionality.
LinuxCNC-Keyepitts has a current working version of the LinuxCNC M6 remap for RapidChange found on Github.
If you don’t see the software you utilize listed above click HERE to be notified of software updates.
Simple and Affordable ATC
In summary, the RapidChange ATC system utilizes a tool holder magazine with spring-loaded sockets, along with the rotational force of a spindle, facilitating quick and precise tool changes. Crucial requirements, including spindle control capabilities, Z axis safe clearance and software compatibility are key for integration. Any software with the ability to create custom macros is not ruled out. RapidChange ATC is a new type of Automatic Tool Changer, allowing tool changes with the rotational engagement of a spindle. The patient pending socket design is what makes the spindle engagement successful and repeatable both loading and unloading tools. More information about our product can be found at RapidChangeATC.com.