The “Headless Bolt” Fixturing Alternative

Article From: Modern Machine Shop, ,

Posted on: 9/18/2013

This fastener enables fast workpiece change-overs compared to conventional bolts and less cutter interference thanks to its compact design.

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mitee-bite loc down

Buffco Engineering, located in Mulvane, Kansas, uses the Loc-Down system for approximately 75 percent of the machining work it performs.

mitee bite loc down

Buffco Engineering, located in Mulvane, Kansas, uses the Loc-Down system for approximately 75 percent of the machining work it performs. Karl Jones, Jr., operations manager at Buffco, appreciates that the units are small enough to work around, yet provide sufficient force to secure layers of sheet material and large blocks.

mitee bite loc down

Loc-Down units install in tapped holes in a subplate. The workpiece (shown here in gray) requires mating holes that have a machined internal groove to accommodate the units. Holding force is provided via the unit’s ball-lock mechanism.

In some cases, conventional bolts are used to secure workpieces to subplates for machining. However, installing and removing these bolts can be time-consuming. Plus, protruding bolt heads often interfere with the cutting tool, preventing it from accessing all workpiece areas that require machining. This can lead to multiple setups and operations to complete parts. As a result, Mitee-Bite has developed its “headless bolt” Loc-Down system so users can quickly attach and remove workpieces from subplates. Not only does this system enable faster workpiece change-overs compared to conventional bolts, but there’s less cutter interference thanks to its compact design.

The Loc-Down system was originally developed to locate and secure aerospace parts for high speed machining operations. However, it is just as effective securing workpieces ranging from thin plate to large blocks. The individual, threaded Loc-Down units are made of heat-treated stainless steel and feature a simple ball-lock mechanism to fix workpieces to a subplate. Users simply drill and tap holes to a specified depth in the subplate and install the units. (Multiple units are often required depending on the application.) Next, a mating through-hole with a special-geometry internal groove is machined in the workpiece. Mitee-Bite provides an end mill to create this groove. Once the workpiece is loaded onto the subplate, users tighten each Loc-Down unit to secure it for machining. Each unit generates 100 pounds of force for every foot-pound of torque.

The Loc-Down system offers the flexibility to fixture a variety of parts and is well-suited for both production and job-shop environments. It also can be combined with the company’s locating pins and liners to create an affordable quick-change system for fixtures used on tombstones and pallet changers.

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