Lathe Collets 3: Collet Variations
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WARNING: Machine tools present a safety hazard. Improper operation can result in severe injury. These topics are for non-laboratory study only and are not to be used in conjunction with the operation of any tool or machine described herein. Never use a machine tool without the supervision of a qualified instructor.
Plastic collets are often used when the griping surface of the part has been pre-machined to a fine surface finish. The plastic is soft and will not mar the surface of the part when gripped tightly. However the plastic collet is not as rigid as a steel collet and it will flex more. Flexure will cause the collet to bend outward under machining pressure thus causing inconsistent dimensions or unwanted taper.

Collets are not always round. Many blank collets are available for machining. It is not uncommon to have collets EDM machined to odd shapes that are perfect for gripping the part.

When replication is important, it is recommended to use a collet stop. Each part that will be faced this way will have the same length as was shown in an earlier video.

A word of caution about using the collet to machine parts to length with a collet stop:

The collet grips the work piece by drawing it backwards into the collet taper of the chuck. If the work pieces varied in diameter then the grip of the collet would commence at different places within the collet taper. Therefore it is important to remember that when using a collet to face multiple work pieces that the diameters of the work pieces must be exactly the same. Otherwise smaller diameters will be faced too long and larger diameters would be faced too short. R.S.

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