When is a Short Load Bar Feeder your Best Option?
Short load bar feeders load spindle length bars into the lathe for automatic operations, and are perfect for production lots as small as 20 – 30 parts. The key here is to choose a bar feeder that has quick setup times, ideally in the range of 2 – 3 minutes or less.
Primary considerations for determining if a short loader is right for your applications are: part length, material shape, material cost and the length of unattended operation time you desire.
Most short loaders provide three modes of operation:
- Feeding to a programmed length without the help of the turret stop
- Feeding to a turret stop
- Using the sub-spindle to extract material when transferring the part from the main spindle to the sub spindle for back side machining
Short loaders are extremely cost-effective, take up minimal floor space, do not require bar end preparation and enable unattended operation. Because the entire length of bar stock is contained within the lathe headstock, there are virtually no RPM limits.
They’re also excellent choices for running profiled material or bars that are not perfectly straight. Used in conjunction with a shaped spindle liner and custom work holding, short loaders are capable of running a variety of extruded shapes as well as square and rectangular bars. This means you can use a short load bar feeder for unattended machining of a part that previously could only be milled.
Some short loaders can be converted for high-speed shaft loading in which precut shafts may be loaded in less than 4 seconds.
Short loaders may not be the best choice for longer part runs because they do not hold as much material as a 12-foot bar feeder . Another concern is that the maximum bar stock length is limited to the headstock length of the machine tool. Typically, and because machine spindles are getting shorter, this length is no more than 4 feet and, in some cases, less than 3 feet which may create additional remnants that can be costly, especially when you are turning expensive bar stock. In this case a six-foot bar feeder may be your best choice.
Among the application criteria that point to a six-foot bar feeder are production of longer parts, use of expensive materials and higher volume part runs. Depending on your needs, a six-foot bar feeder may provide the best features of both 12-foot and short load loaders:
- Less material waste with only two remnants per 12-foot bar
- Require less space than a 12-foot bar feeder
- Fewer problems with material straightness
- Quick set up
Although not as versatile at running profiled material as a short loader, the right six-foot bar feeder is capable of effectively loading many kinds of shaped material.
A six-foot bar feeder is a good alternative to a short loader for machines with short spindles. In these applications it will reduce materials waste, increase production capacity and allow easy handling of heavy bars.
With more than 40 years of bar feeding experience and the industry’s broadest assortment of 12-foot, short load and six-foot models, your local LNS representative can help you select a bar feeder that best suits your manufacturing process.