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Keyseating Machines


Keyseating is a machining process in which internal shapes and forms are cut using a reciprocating, single-point cutting tool - similar to the shaping process. The Keyseating cutter is clamped into a holder; and together with a feed bar, is able to move vertically within a tool guide. The tool guide ensures that the cutting tool is not deflected, and runs true, relative to the table on the keyseating machine. Keyseating machines, also called keyseaters, are used primarily to cut internal keyways, and other straight-sided shapes and forms in non-production parts.

Keyseating Machine FAQs

When is keyseating an appropriate machining process for my parts?

In some cases broaching is not the best choice to cut internal shapes and forms. For example, if a standard broaching tool is not available, and there are only a few parts to be cut, keyseating is a perfect solution. If a part is too large to be accommodated by either a broaching machine or a Wire EDM machine, a vertical shaper or keyseater might be the only alternative to cut an internal form. V W Broaching has one of the largest keyseaters available – capable of cutting a full 30” in length and 3” in width, and virtually unlimited in the size of part that can be handled. Breakdown parts and prototype parts are logical choices for our keyseaters and vertical shapers.

How does a keyseater differ from a vertical shaper?

A keyseater and a vertical shaper are similar in their capabilities, but differ somewhat in their method. Both types of machines cut using a single-point cutting tool, which oscillates in the vertical plane and cuts using one stroke of the up and down motion. A vertical shaper enters through the top of the piece part and cuts using the down stroke, by pushing material away in front of it. A keyseater enters through the bottom of the piece part and cuts by using the down stroke, by pulling material away in front of it. In general, a keyseater, because it is guided, tends to be more accurate than a vertical shaper. However, a vertical shaper, because of its simpler tooling requirements tends to be more flexible, with somewhat lower tooling costs.

Will there be tooling charges?

In most cases we have standard cutters available to use for our customers’ jobs, at no additional charge. In some cases there will be an additional cutter grinding charge if a standard cutter is not available. In addition, standard guide bars and rings may have to be modified to accommodate odd sizes. These charges are usually a fraction of the charge a custom broach might cost.

How does keyseating compare in accuracy to other machining operations?

That depends. When a part is relatively small in size, and relatively soft in composition, keyseating accuracy will match that achieved by broaching, or other traditional machining processes. In the case of parts that are extremely long, or of particularly hard material, keyseating will require more liberal tolerances, because of deflection of the cutting tool. However keyseating has significantly less deflection over the course of the cut than does vertical shaping. Our engineers at V W Broaching will be able to indicate tolerances when a drawing is submitted for quotation.

How does keyseating compare in price to other machining operations?

Keyseating is a very cost-effective method of cutting internal shapes and forms, relative to higher tech (and slower) methods, such as Wire EDM. One could expect pricing similar to traditional non-production machining operations, such as grinding or milling.

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