We did a lot of thinking about workholding over the last half of 2010. Some of the steady readers here may have noticed some of the recent additions: the new 5" CNC Vise, and new modular jaw plates, for example. We've still got a few other neat things that will be arriving shortly as well on the website.
One of the more creative ideas we came up with that made it to product is Supersoft Jaws. What is it? Well, it's a kit for our 5" Vises that allows you to make custom jaws our of a moldable, formable plastic. The plastic's official name is Polycaprolactone, and it has been a machinist's secret for a little while. You may have seen it before - its a plastic compound that is moldable when heated up, but rigid at room temperature. Its machinable (actually looks and cuts a lot like Delrin), reheatable and remoldable, and dimensionally stable. Here's how it works: Heat the plastic up in hot water - not boiling, but kind of close. Then you can mold it around the workpiece and the studs on the Soft Jaw subplates. Tighten up the jaws slightly as it cools to room Temp and...Voila!... it holds firmly. It's perfect for holding difficult shapes in a vise. We especially like it for: 1. One-time and protoyping jobs where you don't want to invest a lot of design time to make more permenant aluminum soft jaw plates 2. Engraving 3. Fixturing jobs that are nearly impossible
The Supersoft Jaw Kit is 31841. Click here to buy them