Selecting the right piece of kit to hold a component securely while you are working on it, or in an assembly process, will normally picking a toggle clamp of one type or another. The one best suited for your application will be decided when you consider all the factors involved, these including the holding capacity and pressure you require
To hold any ‘job’ in place, using just the level of force needed and no more, is a vital consideration. Too much force risks distorting and or damaging the item during the holding operation, too little and the job will move and that could be disastrous.
Another thing that you need to look into is the shape and size of the parts that you have to hold in position. Plus whether they are uniform in size or variable. The matter of the operating environment is another consideration, this potentially requiring the clamp to be made from stainless steel.
You also have to understand the length of time you will be holding the piece in place, the type of clamp varying when you need to hold a piece place for longer periods. Basically speaking, the selected clamp has to provide the clamping force needed whilst providing good access to the item you are working on so that all the necessary work or assembly processes can take place.
Toggle clamps can be used manually or in an automatic way. Where humans are involved, the issue of safety has to be considered if the possibility of injury is to be minimised. In such cases you have to take into account the strength and handiness of the human operator and the physical position they have to maintain whilst operating the clamp and carrying out all the required operations.
This required that the clamp has to be mounted in a manner that allows it to be operated in a comfortable and accessible way, while also not requiring the operator to put so much pressure on the tool to strain any part of their body.
Handgrips that have been Ergonomically styled can help here and to stop any inadvertent opening of the clamp, some toggle clamp manufacturers such as Sandfield Engineering in the UK offer units with a secondary lock for additional safety.
Toggle Clamp Types
Besides the difference between manual and powered clamps, you have to consider other issues that need to be taken into account. Most of these are connected with the area in where the clamp is going to be used. Levers for manually operated clamps can either be horizontal or vertical and can be operated with a push or pull action, use a hook rather than a clamping foot, or a rolling cam rather than a pivot.
Other types of clamp are squeeze-action clamps, which work like grippers, and latch clamps which operate by using a hook at the very end of the clamping arm, this fitting around an opposing latch.
Horizontal Or Vertical
This type of toggle clamp is the most common, it being possible to use when the available space is limited. They are simple, can easily be oved and are available in many sizes. Basically, when the handle is in the up position, the clamp is open, allowing you to place the job/component under the foot.
In the case of horizontal clamp, when the lever is pulled/pushed down into the horizontal position, which is parallel to the base, the clamping arm is lowered into position. Once the handle is moved to the final position, the foot moves down, holding the job in place whilst also locking so it cannot accidentally open.
The vertical toggle clamp operates in the same way, however in this case, the toggle clamp is locked when the lever moves to the the fully up position, and is opened as the lever reaches the horizontal.
This same principle, one that uses a lever and fulcrum is used in push-pull and straight-line clamps. Here the force to operate the tool is a horizontal one. In these cases, the push/pull handle forces the clamp’s plate backwards and forwards along its main axis.
Size And Shape Of Your Job
The type of clamp will also vary depending on the size of your job/component and whether this has a regular or irregular form. This is especially important is you are mass-producing an item that has a uniform shape and thickness. In these instances, you select a clamp that is a best match to that profile. Where the items are not uniform, you will need something that is more versatile, as these can cope with varying thicknesses or something that does not have a uniform shape. These self-adjusting clamps allowing for any variations.
Force and Material
The amount of force required to hold the workpiece in place in a secure manner will also affect which holding/toggle clamp is the best fit for your needs, as will the material of the workpiece.
As you can see, there are many factors that need to be taken into account when picking the right type of toggle clamp, and if you are in the slightest doubt, the best thing to do is to chat to a company like Sandfield Engineering, they have years of experience and are sure to be able to help you.