A tool cooler is a packaged vortex tube to make it more easily used. A vortex tube creates very cold, and even freezing temperatures from compressed air for spot cooling. By itself, the vortex tube is quite noisy so accessories to muffle the sound of the device is usually required. The tool cooler consists of a vortex tube with a cold end muffler, and a hot end sleeve (to protect from the heat generated at the hot end) which also incorporates some muffling. In addition, a strong magnet is added onto the unit to easily attach it to any magnet accepting surfaces like a machine or steel table to secure the unit in place. So this “packaged” vortex tube is now quiet, easy to handle and more flexible to use.
Normally a vortex tube by itself has an adjustable hot end plug to control the flow of cold air out the cold and hot ends, and to vary the temperature produced at the cold end. But there is an “optimum setting” that will give you the maximum cooling effect and at the same time keep the temperature just above zero degrees C. This is to prevent any possible freezing in the device should the dew point for your compressed air supply is not very low. For sub-zero temperature generation you should have dry air with a dew point below that of the temperature you wish to produce in the vortex tube.
Tool coolers or variations such as our mist cooler, which offers some lubrication are becoming more popular. But for materials that have always been dry machined such as plastics, the benefits are faster machining (shortens production time and increases output) and better quality, especially with plastics as it produces less waste in the cut (a much cleaner cut). Tool life can be extended as well in carbide tipped tools because the cold air produced helps prevent micro-carbon cracking.
In all these applications there is no requirement for lubrication. However, there are applications where some lubrication is absolutely necessary. One example is drilling a deep hole into a material. Without some lubrication to the cutting tool, it will bind inside the material being drilled. For this reason Nex Flow developed the patented Mist Cooler which operates not by cooling the tool directly, but by cooling the lubricant applied to the cutting tool to a very low temperature. The liquid is applied as a mist to the cutting tool to provide both the lubrication and cooling it needs. The benefit is the diminished volume of liquid needed to both cool and lubricate. Reduction in chemical use can be as much as 20%, a significant savings even over a short time frame.
Tool Coolers are available in various capacities for cooling depending on the nature of the material being cooled, the rate of throughput and the thickness of the material. There is even a small capacity unit called a Mini Cooler which is used in cutting thin material, and even in sewing operations involving heavy textiles such as jeans and burlap bags where the sowing needles heat up and deform or break thread. The mini cooler keeps them cool. While it is generally a good idea to avoid any adjustable system (as the fixed systems are preset for optimum cooling), the Adjustable Spot Cooler is another packaged vortex tube, very similar to the Tool Cooler but with an easy hand adjustable knob to vary the temperature at the outlet that is available. This is usually used in laboratory applications and for testing where temperature variation is required. Tool Coolers (and other variations) can be specially made to provide sub-zero temperatures if required. The versatility of the Tool Coolers makes it an excellent packaged option for all types of spot cooling applications.