Everything You Need to Know About Digital Boring Heads

BIG KAISER Digital boring head lineup

Over the last couple of decades, digitization has increasingly crept into our lives, professionally and otherwise. In the metalworking world, specifically, it’s undeniable. Whether it’s a DRO retrofit or plant-wide monitoring, the signs are clear. Digitization has even reached all the way into the work envelope, where the cutting tool meets metal. 

Digital boring heads have emerged as indispensable time-saving and quality-ensuring tools in machine shops around the globe. Digital boring heads display setup measurements on a small readout that’s directly on the boring head. This makes it much much easier for operators at the machine and tool crib teams to make precision adjustments faster. Some of these digital heads even connect with mobile devices via Bluetooth, unlocking even more efficiencies. More on that a little later. 

The role of digital boring heads 

So, where do digital boring heads fit in the broad offering of boring equipment available on the market? Digital boring heads are most impactful when delicate adjustments are called for. This makes them ideal for fine boring; our EWE digital heads are among our smallest boring heads, with diameters as small as 0.079” and adjustment increments as fine as 50 millionths of an inch in diameter. 

Digital boring heads are not only precise but generally, add flexibility too. Since the shortest possible stickout is always the most effective setup, our EWE heads also allow for variable length adjustment. In our case, they also fit seamlessly into the CK modular tool systems.

The proven, real-world benefits of digital boring heads

Though relatively new, digital boring heads have proven themselves in a wide array of applications. Their impacts not only span industries, from aerospace to performance racing but specific processes too, from setup to hitting extreme tolerances.

Team Penske accelerates finishing adjustments

For Team Penske, speed is of the essence in more places than just the race track. The time between races doesn’t give the team’s machine shop much time to address issues or make adjustments for the next track. They are constantly looking for opportunities to save time across operations.

A particularly challenging run of parts called for 76 mm-diameter holes in Rc32 steel with tolerances of 0.008 mm. Finishing adjustments were unavoidable. With the help of digital boring heads, adjustments were validated immediately, and the need for test cuts was eliminated, making for an 80% faster adjustment process.

 

Job shop eliminates more than 90% of scrap

For Impact CNC in Columbia City, IN, a four percent scrap rate wasn’t sustainable. Not only were material costs difficult to manage, but operators were understandably concerned about backlash with their analog heads. The constant accuracy checks added even more expense in the form of time. They knew it was time for a change. The decision was to invest in digital boring heads, and it turned out to be a smart one. As their manufacturing engineer said, “When you’re machining to tight tolerances, adjustments can be made much faster and easier than with analog heads. It’s hard to believe we haven’t been using these all along.”

Hitting tight tolerances in difficult materials

A direct result of easier, high-precision adjustments is the ability to nail extreme tolerances in fewer passes. One customer, Lord Corp., is a great example of this. They specialize in complex aerospace parts. 

A precision bore in an engine mount prototype made of Inconel and treated to Rc40 was causing problems—scrapping one of these parts because of an oversized bore would be a loss equal to the company’s entire monthly budget. The stakes were high. Our President and COO, Jack Burley called the test cuts “the most challenging he’s ever made.” 

With the help of our friends at Blaser Swisslube, Lord was able to establish a repeatable procedure that hit the mark and made tool life more predictable.

 

Getting started with digital boring heads
 

 

BIG KAISER Digital Boring Head app

Digital boring heads are very simple to learn and set up. In just a few very easy steps, you can connect your head to a mobile device (via an app) unlock all the features and be ready to machine. In addition to the powerful benefits you’ve already read about, the BIG KAISER Boring Tool App enables these highly practical functions:

●    Cutting data calculator
●    Calculator for adjusting tools
●    Quick access to operating manuals
●    Tool overview
●    Application data
●    Store favorites
●    Tool tips
  
Quick-Start Pro Tip: To avoid backlash, our digital boring heads should be clamped into boring bars before adjusting diameter.

If you’re ready to start your digital boring head journey, you can download the free app, for Apple or Android devices, and start exploring. Our resident boring experts   are always available to help you ramp up or optimize your digital boring head operations. You can also request a detailed quote from our engineering team at any time.    
 

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