Keyseating is a broaching process used to create the keyway hold, or keyhole, inside a locking mechanism.
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Purpose of Keyseaters
More broadly, keyseating is a method used to create slots in mating systems. More specifically, keyseating is a subtype of internal broaching, which is a type of broaching that punctures a material from one surface side to the other. This contrasts with blind broaching, which only modifies a material’s surface. Keyseating is done using a keyseater, which, like other broaching machines, uses a row of teeth that increases in size in order to make grooves and cut holes in the material of a surface.
Application of Keyseaters
Keyseating operations are essential to the creation of any locking mechanism. However, they can do more than cut keyholes; they can also make superficial cuts and different angle cuts to help create products like bushings, wrenches and fasteners. To increase the abilities of the keyseating machines, increase their lifespan and make them sleeker, manufacturers may subject them to a variety of coating processes before putting them to use. Processes like thermal spraying, plasma spraying, electroless plating, ion plating and anodizing are all available to make keyseaters harder, more resistant to abrasion and more resistant to corrosion. To secure keyseating services for an application or to order a keyseating machine of your own, reach out to a trusted supplier today, who can guide you in the right direction.
Design of Keyseaters
Keyseaters, also known as keyseat cutters, keyway cutters and keyway broaching machines, rely on a guiding system and a topside support to make sure they create cuts that are precise and clean. Also, almost all keyseat cutters are run by CNC technology. The guiding system usually manifests as a clamp or a vise; it keeps the material in place as it is fed through the cutter. The cutter, which sits below the workpiece and cuts on the down stroke, is either fed manually or automatically. The former is true if the cutting table is permanent and the latter is true if the cutting table is moveable. Either way, during keyseating, the piece being worked upon is moved horizontally as the cutter is moved vertically.
- Keyseating machines cut through many different plastic, wood and metal materials. To make sure that they are consistently effective, keyseaters themselves are always made out of a material that is as or more tough than those they modify. Most commonly, they are formed from cobalt, carbide, diamond or steel. The first three materials in particular are used with high-speed keyseating machines.
Variations of Keyseaters
While keyseating is the most widely used method of keyhole creation, it is not the only one. Other, less frequently used methods for this endeavor include: broaching, wire-cut electrical discharge machining and slotting or shaping. In the case of keyway creation, broaches are mostly used to cut internal square corner sections.
- Keyway Broaching
- Keyway broaching is done in three major steps.
- Step One
- During the first step, a workpiece is placed on top of an arbor press, which is a small, hand operated press used mostly for smaller jobs such as these. After placing the workpiece on the arbor press, a bushing is set in the opening of the workpiece.
- Step Two
- During the second step, the broach is inserted into and forced through the workpiece. In this way, it cuts the keyway hole.
- Step Three
- During the third and final step, manufacturers put shims between the broach and the bushing. Shims are spacers made of some sort of thin and tapered or wedged material, such as plastic, metal, stone, wood or paper. The insertion of them between the broach and the bushing helps them reach the correct depth needed for the key.
- For this process, each cross section of the keyway must be modified with its own broach. Because of this, it is more expensive than regular keyseating. However, it does yield highly accurate keyways.
- Wire-Cut Electrical Discharge Machining
- Next, wire-cut electrical discharge (ESD) machining is used for small production applications in which other cutting technologies, like keyseaters, are not available or extreme precision is required. Wire-cut EDM machining creates cuts via erosion. This erosion occurs when a series of rapid firing electrical current discharges hit the workpiece. The discharges are created through a dielectric liquid and travel onto the workpiece via a spooling wire. CNC technology makes it possible to program wire-cut EDM machines to cut any number of keyway shapes.
- Finally, slotting, more commonly known as shaping, is mostly used to make cuts that do not fully extend through the key. Shaping is a method somewhat similar to keyseating. in that both shaping and keyseating cut keyholes using a single point cutting tool. Unlike keyseating tools, however, the cuts made by shaping tools are not guided on a fixed point. As a result, cuts made during shaping tend to be more susceptible to deflection than cuts made during keyseating.