Aerotech Router Bit Wear & Tear

Is the Aerotech dust-vacuum CNC attachment heavy enough to increase spindle wear? January 2, 2012

Iím currently sitting on my desk and in front of me is a brand new Aerotech tool on trial loan from the company. I've heard a few people on-line here mention how much they liked their machines and thought I'd try one in my mill. However, I'm kind of concerned by the weight of it. I'm going on a pure guesstimate here and saying it's roughly 7.5-10 pounds, which is a good bit more than a regular tool.

What I'm really wondering is: will prolonged day to day usage of this tool decrease the service life of my electro-spindle? My shop is really more of a casework production plant, as we produce a pretty high volume of goods. I like to think we run top-of-the-line equipment, but thatís just my opinion.

I'm installing the tool on a Biesse Rover B 4.65FT. I'm really not all too worried about it, but just thought I'd bounce it off this forum before I spin up to 20,000 RPM and have to make an unplanned donation to the Biesse America Service Department Fund due to poor background research. I know the real pain would come in the form of down-time dollars lost. What are your thoughts/experiences?

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor Y:
We have been using our Aerotech for about nine months. We were worried of the same thing as you. I contacted Homag (we run a Weeke nesting machine) re: the weight of the tool and they had no concern.

The first thing that happened a few weeks in was the spindle would not hold a bit. I do not know the technical terms but the fingers inside the spindle are pressure sensitive and I had to have Homag come out and reset the tension on the "fingers" so it could handle the increased pressure from the large cutter. No problem since.

The second thing is keeping it clean. Ours when nesting will actually pick up larger chunks of P.B. These do not fit through the "holes" in the top of the Aerotech. This causes the tool to be out of balance and get very load. We stop our machine as soon as we hear this happen as it causes excess wear on the machine if it isnít stopped.

It took time to get it right and we have had to slow our feed speed down to get the suction we wanted. We now run 21,000 RPM at 21m/min and get an estimated 90% or more of the dust out of the cut line. We are very happy with it, and would never go back.

From contributor P:

To contributor Y: Are you running a two flute bit?

From contributor Y:
We run a 1/2" compression two flute. I was at home when I posted earlier, I just checked in my programs and I am actually running 18,000 RPM at 21m/min. I am unsure as to the chip size this creates. It does not burn we get very good tool life. I was told it is because you do not re-cut the waste, as it is evacuated from the cut right away.

From contributor C:
It should not be a problem as long as itís balanced to and above the RPM that you are running. Also, as long as the router company is going to warranty your spindle if anything happens due to the weight then youíre good.

From contributor Y:
Our router was only three months old when we put it on. The router company could not warranty anything specific for the Aerotech. Our normal warranty was in place and they adjusted our spindle clamp pressure free of charge when we started using Aerotech. Another note: it can be a bit loud especially on edges of parts, it is a lot of air movement.

From contributor C:
I bet itís loud. When you get a tool where the RIM speed is over 200 MPH, all it needs is wings.

From contributor Y:
To contributor C: Do you sell the tool? Most of the cutter sales guys that were hanging around when we tooled up our new machine stop coming by once we got the Aerotech. They were all giving me their compression bits to try for free, then they had nothing to compete against. No one else offers this technology. We paid $1800 to get started with the head, tooling, and cutter. It was worth a try after having a live demo on our machine and seeing the results. All said it saves time not having to blow off nested parts, and improved our air quality.

From contributor C:
The only issue I have seen is small parts seemed to get pulled up easier due to the increased suction. When that happens, it usually jams the pc and breaks the bit. Other than that no issues.

From contributor A:
I did extensive testing of the Aerotech on our Homag BOF nesting machine over a range of materials. The bottom line for us not choosing to purchase it is as follows: (Keep in mind we mostly run PBC).

1. PBC material can get caught in the tool causing no chip removal and vibration. Based on the excessive vibration that it causes we had real concerns about how that would affect bearing life. We have as robust a spindle you can get it it still sounded like it would be shaken to pieces over time. It is loud anyway and hard to look an operator in the eye and tell him not to worry about it and walk away!

2. Chip removal was not much better than the air assist feature we already had on our machine. As long as you have those systems adjusted properly and have decent extraction you can get a pretty clean table.

3. We like to have multiple tools preset to make swaps faster. At $1200 a tool could get expensive.

4. MDF was much better, but I still could not reproduce their quoted results. We did work with them closely regarding feeds and speeds, etc.

5. I have a personal desire for the operator to be able to hear the cutting. You can tell a lot from the noise a cutter makes in the material and typically less noise is better when you have things adjusted right.

I can't say enough good things about FS Tool however. Through the testing we were introduced to their traditional compression tools (new for them then). We have been running for over a year and they are excellent as are the re-sharps.

From contributor H:
Hi Jeff, to quickly answer your question regarding the weight of the Aerotech System I have placed one of the units on our shipping scale and taken a photo for you. 4.5 lbs is the weight of the Aerotech Body, HSK63F model which if I recall correctly is the model you have on your desk.

As for additional wear on your electro-spindle, the Aerotech System is balanced to G2.5 at 25,000 RPM. This meets the standard for your spindle as defined by the spindle manufacturer. From experience I can tell you that we are well below this mark, especially in regards to the HSK63F monobloc model you have. The advantage to this model or any other tool that is manufactured as a monobloc is that the tool is balanced as an assembly and is never disassembled; therefore, the toolholder is consistently balanced better than a standard collet or even a hydro system plus a router bit.

We also have had extensive third-party testing performed in order to receive a BG certificate of safety. This is hallmark of manufacturing integrity at high spindle speeds. We sought this certification in response to Biesseís request that we verify the safety of our 4.5 lbs tool at the high spindle speeds that their customers, such as yourself could potentially operate the tool at. You can find our certifications in the Aerotechís Manual and on the Mounting Kitís cardboard box.

As for the sound, it is louder than most tools you run; however, the noise level you will experience depends on the design of your CNC routerís dust hood. Given that your Biesse contains a separate dust hood for the router spindle and a second dust hood that encloses both the router and drilling spindle, you will find that once cutting, there is very little difference in volume but instead the pitch will be higher. The noise level that an operator will experience does vary greatly from machine to machine, so please judge for yourself.

The issue of the Aerotech System picking up debris is one that in nearly all cases can be overcome by changing the pocketing procedure, which offers other benefits beyond aiding the Aerotech, as well as changing the side of off-cut or scrap material left on the table between your panels. There is always a change that your board can break and release a larger piece of debris but this is no different than breaking an insert on an insert router bit or if a spiral bit was to break in the cut. If you hear the sound produced by the router change, always stop the machine and inspect - regardless of the tool

For the feed-rate limitations of the Aerotech System: Since APís tests we have since modified our tool designs and have learned a great deal about our own tool and how to achieve excellent dust extraction when our standard tool designs donít work.

We have also learned that there is a limit to how fast you can feed with the Aerotech System and achieve nearly complete dust extraction. This limit varies depending on material, bit, your router and dust extraction system but 20m/min or 800 inches/min is a fair benchmark. Yes we have some customers who cut up to 30m/min or 1,200 inches/min but generally speaking we find that customers are happiest with the tool life and dust extraction at 20m/min +/- 2m/min or 800inches/min +/- 80 inches/min. For the feed-rates listed above, Iím referring to customers who are using 3/8Ē and 1/2" diameter compression bits on 3/4" MDF or Melamine Faced Particleboard

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From contributor A:
I am running pretty fast feeds with a 3/8 cutter which makes things a bit more challenging for the Aerotech compared to other setups people have. I imagine we would have had better luck if using 1/2" cutters, but that was not an option for us.