Hardinge subsidiary buys lightweighting workholding technology

Hardinge subsidiary buys lightweighting workholding technology

Soft-Touch chucking systems for die-cast aluminum and thin-walled automotive and aerospace parts hold workpieces without deforming them.


Traverse City, Michigan – Forkardt Inc. has purchased the intellectual property (IP) of Soft-Touch technology from General Manufacturing Systems, a Saginaw, Michigan, supplier of custom workholding products.

With Soft-Touch, Forkardt strengthens its advanced custom and highly specialized workholding capabilities and IP portfolio for challenging applications in the automotive and aerospace markets such as the manufacturing of aluminum die cast materials and thin walled components where part deformation is a concern.

To meet the evolving demands of increasingly electrified vehicle platforms and ever rising demand for increased fuel efficiency, manufacturers and suppliers in the automotive, aerospace, maritime, and rail industries are racing to design and produce lighter, more efficient vehicles and components.

Lightweighting is a top priority for manufacturers today as they move to a mix of lighter, more advanced materials for structural parts. But these newer, flexible thin walled parts can easily distort under the pressure of normal machining and have a higher risk of bending or deforming in the clamping process.

Soft-Touch’s chucking systems for non-deforming workholding allows clamp fingers to conform to a part's natural contour. Coupled with regulated clamping pressure, the resulting force dynamics give rigidity to fragile and delicate parts.

“Soft-Touch is a critical technology that allows Forkardt to address the changing needs of the market and strengthen our capabilities around advanced materials,” said Chris Brown, global product manager at Hardinge subsidiary Forkardt.

Gerry Mueller, CEO of General Manufacturing Systems, added, "The Soft-Touch technology that I created has a bladder which expands to grasp a part, matching the components irregular shape. This innovation meets the needs of manufacturers looking for distortion free workholding and aligns perfectly to Forkardt's automotive and aerospace target market needs."