Anyone who took design or technology based options during education will likely have come into contact with chuck jaws at some point.  In their most basic form they are used to clamp drill bits in place on machines such as drill presses or the basic hand drill.  However, in more advanced machining processes they are used in conjunction with a rotary table to hold work pieces in place so that they can be shaped into the desired dimensions by tools.  In such instances the chuck jaws used can come in various shapes, sizes and materials dependent on their use.  In addition their clamping mechanism can be operated through the use of either pneumatics or hydraulics.  Here we look at the different uses for each of the two clamping options.

Clamping force

The main difference between pneumatically and hydraulically actuated chuck jaws is the amount of clamping force that can be applied.  This is of course a key factor when deciding on which option to go for as the work piece must be held securely in position to ensure accurate machining.  Of the two options it is the hydraulic alternative that provides the greater clamping strength.  As such hydraulics tends to be used to manufacture high end components that must be extremely precise.

Other factors

There are further factors involved in chuck jaw selection other than the clamping force that can be applied.  Firstly the cost of hydraulic clamping devices is greater than pneumatic options; meaning manufacturers will stick to pneumatic unless the additional clamping force is a necessity.  In addition the hydraulic chuck jaws need a hydraulic cylinder to power them.  This of course takes up extra space in the working area, which can prove problematic in some circumstances.  Finally, hydraulic options also take more to maintain than their pneumatic counterparts.  In order to ensure that they are operating at optimum levels the hydraulic liquid must be kept topped up.  This is of course another expense on top of them costing more than pneumatic chuck jaws.  Not to mention the manufacturing time that is lost whilst maintenance of the clamping device takes place.



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