As a renowned workholding specialist offering its customers manufacturing productivity and efficiency gains, Leader Chuck International is always striving to provide solutions for demanding applications. Announcing a partnership with European distributor, NCMT, Leader demonstrated Blue Photon at this year’s Advanced Engineering show, held at the NEC, Birmingham from the 31 October to 1 November 2018. An innovative, patented, photo-activated adhesive method of workpiece clamping, Blue Photon offers engineers the opportunity to look again at challenging applications.

A workholding system conceived in the laboratory and tested in manufacturing applications all over the world, Blue Photon photo-activated adhesive workholding is the answer to engineering businesses’ quest for a workholding system developed to hold delicate, complex shaped or near-net shaped parts during manufacturing operations. From turning to grinding and EDM to Additive Manufacturing, Blue Photon also has the capacity to hold parts with exceptional 5-axis machine tool access. The Blue Photon system holds a workpiece securely and freely, allowing five- and even six-sided part access. It allows for heavy milling or high-performance machining strategies of many materials including titanium and superalloys.
Managing Director, Mark Jones, explains: “The concept of using Ultra Violet (blue) light to activate and achieve a high-performance adhesive reaction is not new, the dental industry has successfully used it for many years. However, its application within the manufacturing industry sectors does offer a number of key advantages for each manufacturing technology.

“The adhesive workholding technology is the perfect solution for holding delicate workpieces that are prone to distortion in the turning process. Parts such as large, thin rings are easily held in place with Blue Photon without the distortion that is caused with many other workholding methods while turning. Eliminating the need to reposition clamps or relying on operators to ‘gently’ clamp the part can be eliminated.”
Blue Photon is the ideal workholding solution for creep and surfacing grinding applications. One of the unique benefits of the BlueGrip adhesive is its vibrational dampening quality. The adhesive can actually absorb some of the vibration that is common in grinding, thereby reducing chatter, helping achieve tight tolerances and enhance surface finishes. When coupled with a zero-point workholding system automated part load becomes simple. Another benefit of Blue Photon, that makes it ideal for grinding, is its ability to allow fixtures to be designed and built for excellent coolant placement. This is especially important in the grinding industry, where coolant placement can be critical.

Adhesive workholding can aid part clamping in EDM and eliminate cumbersome fixtures with moving parts that can get ‘gummed-up’ in the EDM machine. While it is estimated that approximately three quarters of all 3D printed parts require some type of post process machining. Finding a workholding method that can accommodate these net shaped parts can be a serious engineering challenge. Blue Photon’s advanced workholding technology is ideal for these often-complex net shaped parts. Inexpensive fixtures can be designed and built quickly, avoiding the need to print clamping lugs, bases and so on. For the aggressive milling of materials such as titanium, stainless steel or superalloys, or finishing cuts on a complex part, Blue Photon is an ideal workholding solution. “Thousands of parts have been successfully milled using Blue Photon’s workholding technology, confirming its ability to withstand heavy milling forces while simplifying the workholding element,” says Mark Jones. “Reduced labour, time, and scrap are often realised, and Blue Photon can be used with virtually all materials that are found in the manufacturing industry today, including metals, ceramics, composites and plastics. With the Blue Photon system, clamping induced distortion from over-tightening clamps is totally eliminated.” This workholding solution also allows workshops to reap the full benefits of a multi
axis machine tool. For example, most traditional workholding systems used with net shaped parts will have tool interference issues when used on a 5-axis machine. With Blue Photon’s workholding adhesive solution, engineers can configure the grippers in a location that will maintain the necessary clearances around the workpiece, allowing for five- and even six-sided access to the part. When used with billet material, dovetails and edge clamping can be eliminated.
Mark Jones states: “The application of Blue Photon is straightforward; the adhesive is applied to the sapphire crystal face of the UV curing/holding units that are fed by a high intensity light source. The raw material or workpiece rests in the fixture with an adhesive gap of between 0.5 and 3 mm between the optical curing unit and the surface of the workpiece, and in under 2 minutes the activated adhesive cures to securely hold the part ready for subsequent machining operations.
“Once all machining operations are complete the adhesive bond is broken by a shearing force applied to the unit using a hex socket and wrench. Any residual adhesive is removed with a high temperature cleaner typically above 65 oC and the
units are ready to be dried and used again.”