I am new to the CNC world and just got the okay from the lease company to order my new CNC machine. I was looking at the final quote and noticed with the tool bar I am getting, it states that aggregate tools will not work in this configuration. Just out of curiosity, what is an aggregate tool used for, and is this important or not for making cabinets?
From contributor B:
An aggregate head is a secondary attachment that connects to the spindle on your router. Most base level routers do not have aggregate heads included, although they can probably be added down the road. My guess is that your tool bar or part of the tool changing system on the spindle is somehow in the way of where an aggregate head would mount in the spindle. Aggregate heads are rather costly add-ons, and may require an interface component, such as a C-axis, on the spindle. You would need a specific task to be done with your router to require a specific aggregate head. General cabinet work cutting typically would not require one, but if you had one, you could probably find uses for it.
Take some time to see what an aggregate can do for you. Then talk to your machine supplier and see what is involved in making the machine "aggregate ready."
Typically router spindles are mounted perpendicular to the bed/table. Aggregate holders (or angled milling attachments as those of us that cross over to metal also call them) are special holders which allow you to mount, orient and use bits/cutters at angles other than perpendicular to the table. This enables you to present tooling to the edges of the work piece/panel that otherwise you could not machine.
Depending on what machine you purchased, aggregates may not even be an option. Some of the spindles on entry level and more economically priced routers will not support aggregates.
I have used both Benz and Techniks aggregates and have found both to be high quality products. In reference to the comments regarding cost - "cost" is a very relative term. There is a huge difference in asking a 7 digit a year company to invest in the same thing you would ask a 5 digit a year company to invest in. And, if you do not believe that there are a lot of 5 digit (in some cases less that 60k a year - gross sales!) companies out there that use CNC, I can take you to some. That said, if you can afford an aggregate and if you have valid applications for aggregates, it is definitely worth investing the time in looking into.
The statements regarding the "C" axis were accurate. You do not need to have a "C" axis to deploy aggregates, although it does expand their capabilities when you do have one. Aggregates have what is commonly known as an anti-rotation pin. This pin enables the body or casing of the aggregate to stay stable, while the spindle portion spins at the desired RPM. "C" axes allow for orienting the body or casing of the aggregate automatically using this pin. In effect presenting the cutting edges to multiple surfaces with minimal human intervention. It will also allow tangential tracking which enables the aggregate cutter to follow or create a predetermined contour. The addition of this type of 4th axis to a CNC router is typically a costly option. It is not mandatory to use aggregates. I know HSD offers static plates which mount on the spindle that offer 4 position (on 90 degrees) manual orientation mounting of aggregates to their spindles. In fact, I have removed and machined additional 45 degree mounting slots on these plates for added flexibility. Some machines with tool changers do not permit aggregates to be used in their tool changers; others may only permit aggregates to be used in select tool changers (when more than one tool change location is present).