The Advantages of Face Drivers

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There are three basic ways to secure a long workpiece to a lathe: clamping it with a chuck or collet chuck or supporting the part with a face driver. If you’re looking to increase machining uptime and precision, the advantages of face drivers are substantial.

Using a face driver allows the machinist to turn the full length of a workpiece from end-to-end. It eliminates the tedious step of reversing and re-chucking the part to reach the end of the workpiece that was being clamped.

The results are higher machining efficiency and a more precise process.

The Advantages of Face Drivers

What are Face Drivers?

The face driver mounts to the lathe’s turning center to hold a workpiece in place during operation. It offers an alternative to clamping the workpiece and allows for a complete turning from one end to the other in a single operation.

The pointed nose of the face driver houses several (eg sets of three, five or six) replaceable drive pins centered around a larger center pin, all mounted to a spring-loaded compensation mechanism that allows the pins to adjust to the flatness of the workpiece.
The largest center pin centers the workpiece securely in line with the opposite center, allowing it to rotate along the machine’s axis. The smaller drive pins engage the face of the workpiece.

Face drivers have a wide range of applications beyond shallow turning operations, including threading, shaping, facing, spline milling, and grinding. They are routinely used to cut shafts, pinion gears, forgings, and axles.

Advantages of Face Drivers

Using a quality face driver with correctly-sized drive pins can significantly increase machining speed and uptime while increasing precision and reducing expenses over time. It’s a versatile tool that can enhance a wide range of machining operations.

The substantial advantages of face drivers include:

  1. Increased uptime
    Cut out the time-consuming step of reversing and re-chucking a workpiece to cut the full length. This change alone can noticeably boost a shop’s machining productivity.
  2. More precise cutting
    Although an experienced operator can re-chuck a workpiece precisely, the process does increase the risk of unintended tapering and less concentricity in the final product.
  3. Versatility
    By exchanging different-sized and shaped drive pins, a shop can leverage a single face driver for a wide range of workpieces. The return on investment for the tool is great.
  4. Speed
    The process of loading and unloading a workpiece to a face driver is minimal compared to chucking, whether the shop does so manually or automatically. Exchanging drive pins also takes less than a minute.
  5. Cost savings
    Using face drivers instead of chucks to secure a workpiece reduces the energy and moment of inertia required to turn heavy workpieces, meaning less wear and tear on the lathe’s components.

Face Driver Limitations

Face drivers are versatile, but there are limitations to their use in certain operations.

  • When turning with a face drive, the initial cut should always be made towards the driver.
  • The lathe must have sufficient tailstock force to secure the workpiece, though the exact amount of force depends on the operation, type of workpiece, and number of drive pins. Generally, the pins should penetrate the face of the workpiece at a depth of 0.003’’ to 0.005’’.

Choosing a Face Driver

Your time is valuable and so is your customer’s. Let’s boost your machining productivity.

Triumph Tool is proud to supply face drivers by Riten Industries, offering a broad line of standard and custom products to meet your shop’s needs.

Drop us a line to inquire about choosing a face driver that works for you.


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