Slotting machines or slotters are cutting machines designed to machine slots and grooves into a workpiece.
Slotting Machine Operation
Slotting machines operate using a mounted blade in conjunction with a movable table that moves metal back and forth to create cuts and shapes. Shaping machines generally have a cutting tool that is mounted vertically. Because of this, slotting machines are many times referred to as vertical shapers. However, sometimes slotters are distinguished as having fixed blades while shapers have adjustable mounts and slides.
Selecting Slotting Machines
The most important considerations when selecting a slotting machine are the stroke length, spindle orientation, motor power, and slotter features.
- Stroke length determines the reach of the ram that holds and propels the cutting tool. A larger stroke means a farther cut forward and back. Stroke can generally be set between a range of lengths.
- Spindle orientation is what determines the particular type of shaping machine based on the direction of its stroke (horizontal, vertical, or angled). Slotting machines generally utilize vertically mounted cutting tools, but can have horizontal or angled blades fixed to a vertical ram.
- Motor power is the amount of power the motor provides to drive the ram and cutting tool. This is usually measured in horsepower (HP). Larger motors provide the power to cut bigger sized workpieces requiring deeper strokes at higher speeds.
- Features on slotting machines can also determine its usefulness in various applications. These include rotary tables, which allow slotters to machine curved surfaces, and digital automation via computer numerical control (CNC).
A large number of sizing properties may also be important depending on the type of workpieces being machined. These include ram and throat adjustment lengths, ram bearing length, table diameter, base plate dimensions, and the space between the head and table.
Industries and Applications
Slotting machines are used to cut grooves and slots in shapes and holes while additionally smoothing the worked surface. Because they are more economical at high production rates due to reproducibility and consistency, slotters are generally used in high volume operations. They are used in steel rolling mills, paper mills, power plants, ship building, textile factories, tool rooms, and repair shops.