Do you know what an ER Collet is? If not, do not feel bad. Not a lot of people are familiar with, or have ever heard of, an Er collet. But, basically, it is a holding device that can be placed around an object and which can exert a strong holding force when it is tightened. This is to say that it falls into that category of toolholders, a term which in an industrial environment means holding a tool in place on a machine. It does not refer to when a tool is lying on a shelf.
Collets can play an important part in the manufacturing industry and the manufacturing industry is making a comeback. The results might not be seen overnight, but we are again seeing a return of manufacturing jobs to America. This is known as reshoring and it is happening largely due to problems with logistics. It is also partly because of the growing availability of energy in the United States, ranging from natural gas to coal deposits.
But an ER collet is part of the next generation of tools in manufacturing. When people think of tools, people often only think of their primitive uses, such as those of the bone in “2001, a Space Odyssey”. But tools are not always used with just your hands. Tools can be employed indirectly as well. And these tools, known as machining tools, are often composed of several parts.
Error free production is absolutely essential if foremen and management intent to run a safe operation. ER collets provide a steady pair of mechanical hands for just this. There are many parts to the ER collet. There is the tapered receiving sleeve, the cap and the clamp to hold it in place. In some ways, it is almost as complicated as a human arm, at least for the purpose it achieves.
Does this mean that mechanical arms will be replacing human ones permanently? Maybe not. Someone still has to keep the machinery running. But it does mean that manufacturing has grown much more complicated. Sometimes less room for error means more room for machinery.