What Is A Toggle Clamp and How Can They Be Used To Improve Efficiency In Your Production Line?

Toggle Clamps ‘help’ by holding the workpiece (or job) securely in place while the required actions are carried out, releasing it quickly so that it can be moved on to the next stage in the production line. (Image Adapted: Sandfield Engineering)

What Toggle Clamps Have To Be Able to Do and How They Help

The one thing that any ‘work’ on a component requires, whether drilling it, sanding it, adding bits to it, or adding it to other parts, is that it needs to be held securely in place, without damaging it anyway.

However, this’ securing process’ needs to be quick in a fast-moving production line, so a fast method of ‘fixing’ and ‘releasing’ is another vital requirement.

It is also necessary to ensure that there is no chance of the ‘job’ being released prematurely, which in turn means that the clamp cannot be easily disengaged by vibration or other means.

Finally, there is the need to be able to activate the clamp automatically using machinery of some sort, as in some cases, it is necessary to keep human intervention to a minimum. This not only reduces costs it can also speed up the production line and reduce the risks of staff being injured.

Why they help and how they work

As you can see, Toggle Clamps ‘help’ by holding the workpiece (or job) securely in place while the required actions are carried out, releasing it quickly so that it can be moved on to the next stage in the production line. 

Where the assembly line is also a very fast-moving one, for example on an automated line that makes car parts, these clamps can be activated automatically. However, in less hectic environments, e.g. in a small business that makes guitars, automation is not required, just the inbuilt ability to quickly fix and release.

The other major way that they help is that they do their job without damaging anything, something that other types of clamps, like the G clamp, cannot guarantee, this being particularly true when using self-adjusting clamps.

How they work

Toggle Clamps are quick-action clamping tools that use an over-center locking principle, which is known as a “toggle action”, hence the name of this tool. 

They work by using a system of levers and pivots, a  clamping handle moving the linkage to its centre position, with the clamping arm moving to the centre position, this holding the fixture or workpiece in a secure manner. The ‘Over the Centre Action’ ensures that the clamp will not release until the clamping handle is moved back to the release point.

Force Amplification

The force amplification ratio is another of the reasons why these clamps work so well, as they can produce just the right amount of output force, without needing excessive input force. From a technical point of view, the clamping force produced by the output link is the function of the input cylinder force, the geometric position of all the links, and the coefficient of friction between moving and turning parts. As you can see, they are not as simple as they look. Whatever type of toggle clamp you use, the mechanism is designed to generate the maximum mechanical advantage whilst keeping the cost low.

It is essential to select the right clamp for the job

Regardless of your application, it is essential to choose the right type of clamp for the job in hand.  For instance, sometimes it is not possible to use a vertical clamp as there is not enough room. Here you would need a horizontal clamp.  

What Types Of Clamps Are Available?

• Horizontal toggle clamps are in the locked position when the handle is in the horizontal position. This allows you to use clamps where the vertical space above the job is limited.

• Vertical toggle clamps are the opposite, being in the locked position when the handle is positioned vertically.

• Diagonal hold-down clamps are similar to horizontal toggle clamps, locking when the handle is in the diagonal position. These clamps also have a low profile.

• Push-pull clamps use a plunger that travels in and out providing ‘push and pull forces’. They can lock/clamp in either the push or pull position. Also known as plunger-style or straight-line clamps, they are very useful in certain situations.

• Toggle edge clamps apply locking force both forward and downward at the same time.

• Hook clamps are used to pull two components together, thus making them suitable for applications such as closing and holding closed moulds, etc, together while any permanent fixings are made, the clamp then being released.

• Similar to Hook Clamps, Latch-type clamps use a pull action to tighten parts together. They are also known as Pull clamps. 

• Plier toggle clamps are handheld clamps that look like a set of pliers, a squeeze action being used to lock/close the clamp. Plier toggle clamps are also referred to as squeeze clamps.

• Cam clamps are similar to vertical clamps. However, the clamping force is produced by the action of a roller on a cam. This is very useful as it allows components of different thicknesses to be clamped without any readjustments.

Is a Toggle Clamp right for me?

Toggle clamps are an excellent choice for a variety of situations. Regardless of the type you use, they allow you to work quickly and accurately, and as there are so many variants, there is bound to be a type that meets your needs.

Other types of clamps typically require tiring and time-consuming actions such as undoing latches, changing complicated fasteners or other such time-consuming actions. 

Woodworking and Toggle clamps

Woodworking is one area where toggle clamps can really help as they can secure a job so that it can be sawed, sanded or drilled without any fear of it moving or being damaged by the ‘holding process’. Toggle clamps are useful for light or heavy-duty projects, with different clamping forces being available.

However, as Toggle clamps must be secured to a table, jig, or moveable surface, they are best suited for projects with repetitive actions. One example of this is the application of equal force to each side when securing any form of joint.

As you can see, Toggle Clamps are used in many types of manufacturing processes, but if you are unsure of which type is best suited to your application, please do contact Sandfield Engineering. Their decades of experience ensure that they will be able to help.

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