Travelling Steady - Your Options to Support Long Tools


A Travelling Steady tool support system on a P-axis in your tool grinder can open up new markets for accurate long-length tools. But with 3 options available, which one is the right one for your business?

Over recent years there has been increasing demand for longer cutting tools with tighter tolerances. This interest has often come from the automotive industry.  In response, ANCA developed the Travelling Steady (which travels on the P-axis). 

The optimum place to support a tool being ground is at the point of greatest load, which is directly under the grinding wheel. A conventional stationary support steady provides enough support for a short tool, but when you are manufacturing tools that are 400mm long, a stationary support will not provide the continual support needed along the entire length of the tool.

The P-axis is an additional axis that can be purchased as an option for the TXcell, TX7+, MX7 and TapX tool grinders.  The Travelling Steady travels on the P-axis and uses CNC control to keep the tool support directly underneath the point of grinding at all times.  The P-axis Bed Assembly looks like a long black set of bellows within a casting.  It allows the tool support options such as the Arobotech to move back and forth so they provide continual support underneath the tool where it is in contact with the grinding wheel. 

 P-axis bed assembly with tailstock
P-axis Bed Assembly with Tailstock

Three Travelling Steady tool support options

The Travelling Steady has 3 tool support options:

  1. Arobotech Travelling Steady
  2. Bush-type Travelling Steady
  3. Tailstock

Each of these is interchangeable and you can purchase a P-axis Bed Assembly with 1, 2 or all 3 options.  They all suit different applications where long tools need to be supported by the Travelling Steady.  For example, the Tailstock is suitable for Taps and reamers.  

P-axisThe Travelling Steady provides support during grinding to prevent flexing and chatter. During the grinding process, vibration can cause excessive wheel wear, chatter marks and poor surface finish. The Travelling Steady will eliminate these problems by providing rigid tool support. The Travelling Steady and P-axis is available as an option on the TXcellTX7+ and MX7 machines.  It is also available on the TapX for the Tailstock option only.

The Travelling Steady supports the tool at the maximum load point during fluting operations.  This load point is directly below the contact point of the grinding wheel.  As a result, the wheel is moved along the tool during flute grinding and the steady support moves with it maintaining optimum tool support.  
The rigidity of the ANCA machine and P-axis Bed  assembly allows the operator to increase fluting feed rates for greater productivity.  Support can also be provided for end face grinding as the steady can be positioned at the end of the tool.
Our customers tell us they need flexibility and quicker set-up times.  The changeover time from Bush to Arobotech systems is less than one hour for a tool with a flute length of 400mm (15.8") (depending on the tool holding and wheel diameter). The Travelling Steady can accept tools between the diameters of 2mm (0.08") and 26mm (1") for the TX7+, and up to 20mm (0.8") for the MX7.  It has the added benefit of programming a safe park position when the operator wants to grind shorter tools (when long tool support is not required). The bushes, bush holders and Arobotech wear pads are interchangeable between the TX7+ and MX7 machines.

Arobotech Travelling Steady

The Arobotech Travelling Steady consists of an Arobotech unit which provides 3 points of support to the tool.  Each support applies continual hydraulic pressure to the tool, even for reducing diameters, such as tools with a back taper.

 The Arobotech travelling steady uses high precision support pads to hold the tool on 3 points using line contact
Arobotech Travelling Steady

Most drills are ground with a back taper to ensure the diameter has clearance when drilling to reduce heat and friction while the tool is engaged in the material.  The Arobotech steady accurately supports tools with reducing diameters as it auto-adjusts to centre the support as the diameter changes.

The Arobotech uses high precision ground support pads to hold the tools on three points using line contact. These  carbide pads hold the tool on each side and below the drill during grinding. They can cover a large range of different size tools (2mm – 26mm / 0.08” – 1”).

This unique tool holding design maintains accuracy, rigidity and true running. The ToolRoom software controls the Arobotech unit by adjusting the hydraulic clamp pressure for the pads to give the tool optimal support when grinding.


 Watch a video of the Arobotech Travelling Steady which demonstrates how it keeps the 
support directly underneath where the tool grinding is occurring at all times



Bush-type Travelling Steady

The Bush-type version uses a half circular bush to encapsulate the tool during grinding. It is ideal for fixed diameter applications and a wide range of tools.  It is specifically suitable for tools with a straight or shear flute.

The bush type travelling steady exposes the top 55% of the tool needed for grinding.
Bush-type Travelling Steady providing support directly underneath the grinding wheel

The Bush is open at the top which exposes the 45% of the tool needed for grinding wheel access.  The Bush system will offer elongated support for long tools during fluting operations when the grinding forces are at their highest. The Bush system is very easy to set up and change between different tool types.
The Bush-type Travelling Steady also has the added capability of being able to have a centre mounted so it can be used as a tailstock.  This offers you the added ability to cylindrically grind between centres to tight tolerances.


The Tailstock also requires the P-axis Bed Assembly and is seen fixed in place on top of one in the first illustration in this article.

With the Tailstock, the tool is supported at both ends.  The Tailstock is used for tools such as taps and reamers and is adjustable and easy to set up.  It is available as an option for the TapX, TX7+ and MX7 machines.

The force used to hold the tool can be specified using kilograms, pounds or newtons. Using the iGrind software, the operator has complete flexibility and can apply different forces over all operations or individually.  Different forces are used depending on the size of the tool.

The TapX tool grinder is used for the production of a wide variety of taps.  When grinding taps, a Tailstock is essential for accurate positioning.  ANCA conducted detailed research and consulted with tap manufacturers when designing the TapX Tailstock.

A tailstock on a P-axis is essential for accurate tap grinding.
A tap being supported at the left of the picture by the chuck & at the right by the centre on the Tailstock

When grinding taps with a centre, wheel clearance is critical for operations such as threading and spiral gash.  During these operations the grinding wheel is in close proximity to the centre and can be ground away.  
To prevent this, the Tailstock and centres have been designed to maximise the grinding clearance.  Different size male and female centres (depending on application) can be used to achieve the desired clearance.   All centres used with the Tailstock are interchangeable.
A tap being held in place by the centre which is attached to the top of the Tailstock
A tap being held in place by the centre which is attached to the top of the Tailstock
The most common centres usually have a small 'cone' on the top that fits into the hole in the end of the tap to keep it in place.  That version is called a male Tailstock centre.  Female Tailstock centres are also available that have a small indentation for taps with a small 'point' on the end that fits inside to keep it in position.
The cast iron bed and tooling design of the TapX P-axis Bed Assembly and Tailstock ensures rigid tool support while CNC control offers excellent accuracy.  These features combine to consistently provide high quality, precise taps. 

ANCA continue to develop new products in answer to evolving customer needs.  Expect more developments in this product range soon.
Contact ANCA to find out more about the Travelling Steady (P-axis) tool support system.


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