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What is a Toggle Clamp?

Clamping & Holding Solution insights from one of the UK's longest serving Toggle Clamp Manufacturers.

by | Dec 12, 2019 | Blog, Clamp Definitions, Clamps, Engineering

What is a Toggle Clamp?

A Toggle Clamp is a tool that you use to securely locate components or parts in position, typically, but not exclusively, as part of a production process. The primary features of a Toggle Clamp are that Toggle Clamps lock in position securely and are quick acting, they can be quickly turned on and off by an operator. This is why Toggle Clamps are often used in production lines where components need to be held securely and then removed quickly in repetitive manufacturing processes.

What are the different types of Toggle Clamp?

There are a series of different types of Toggle Clamps, which are most commonly defined by their action.

There are six main types of Toggle Clamp including Vertical Toggle Clamps, Horizontal Toggle Clamps, Plunger Toggle Clamps or Push Action Toggle Clamps, Hook Action Toggle Clamps, Plier Action Toggle Clamps and Cam Action Toggle Clamps.

The most common Toggle Clamp is a Vertical Toggle Clamp or a Vertical Action Toggle Clamp. Vertical Toggle Clamps are characterised with a bar that swings down and clamps vertically on to the components. The handle, in its closed status, is in a vertical or upright position.

The most common variation on the Vertical Toggle Clamp is called a Horizontal Toggle Clamp or a Horizontal Action Toggle Clamp. Horizontal Toggle Clamps apply holding force in the same downward direction, but the handle is, in its closed setting, in a horizontal position. This allows for use of a Toggle Clamp in instances where you need more clearance above the clamp, or where you need the operator’s hand to be away from the clamp during operation, these are the applications where Horizontal Toggle Clamps have the advantage.

The third most common Toggle Clamp is called a Plunger Action Toggle Clamp, Push Action Toggle Clamp or Push Pull Toggle Clamp which, as the names suggest, are push or pull action clamps. These Toggle Clamps apply the force in a direct, straight-line direction. The clamp toggles in the forward and the rear position, this is particularly useful in situations where you may occasionally require the clamp, rather than to push forward and apply the force, to pull forward and apply the force. This has the advantage that, when the clamp is mounted vertically with the handle in the back position, it will stop  components falling forwards as the handle is behind the component in the lock position.

The fourth most common Toggle Clamps Are called Hook Action Toggle Clamps. Hook Action Toggle Clamps are most often used to pull components together. There are two types of Hook Action Toggle Clamps, U-bolt Hook Action Toggle Clamps and Single Bolt Hook Action Toggle Clamps. Hook Action Toggle Clamps are quite often used to retain or hold lids onto items, or when using Injection Moulding tools which hinge – these are often held together with Hook Action Toggle Clamps. Hook Action Toggle Clamps are also used for securing doors, and are ideal in any application where you need to pull two separate items or components together.

Another option is a Cam Action Toggle Clamp. One of the challenges of using Toggle Clamps is that they normally require the component thickness to be consistent. Toggle Clamps don’t like variation, although there are different methods to adjust for variation the most straight forward solution is to use a Cam Action Toggle Clamp.  A Cam Action Toggle Clamp works on a Cam which allows for a component variation, depending on the model, from one to three millimetres. Cam Action Toggle Clamp’s work with a handle that moves across a counter and then locks the component into position as opposed to operating the toggle linkage system that is used in other types of Toggle Clamp.

Perhaps the least common type of Toggle Clamp is the Plier Action Toggle Clamp. Plier Action Toggle Clamps are a hand tool that act in a squeezing motion to pull components together. Plier Action Toggle Clamps are hand applied tools often used in fabrication processes although they can also be found in the automotive industry. Plier Action Toggle Clamps are reasonably flexible with the  option of making custom jaws to match your components precisely.

What materials do you use for different types of Toggle Clamps and why?

Standard or light action Toggle Clamps are usually made from Pressed Steel components with a Zinc Plated finish.

Stainless Steel is also an option for producing Toggle Clamps, depending on the environment that you are working in. In regulated industries where hygiene is important like the food industry and pharmaceuticals Stainless Steel Toggle Clamps are often specified.

If the Toggle Clamp is to be used outside, in Marine applications or in harsh environments you will need a certain amount of corrosion resistance and Stainless Steel is often used in those applications. In certain instances, in particularly harsh environments, we have produced Toggle Clamps using 316 Stainless Steel which offers even greater corrosion resistance.

Stainless-Steel-Toggle-Clamp

Whilst most Toggle Clamps have a Zinc Plating applied there are a couple of other options for specialist applications. Toggle Clamps may also be Chemi Blacked for applications where light and reflections play a part in the production process, if you are using laser guidance or location systems for example. Stainless Steel Plating can also be applied if a limited amount of corrosion resistance is required.

Sandfield Engineering also manufacture a range of Heavy Duty Toggle Clamps which are made from castings which are heavier duty and more robust casting.

What is a Heavy Duty Toggle Clamp and what does heavy duty actually mean?

Heavy Duty Toggle Clamps differ from standard Toggle Clamps in that they are a more robust construction. You would normally use castings for the handles and the links and they have bigger diameter pins, and bigger diameter bushes which are hardened and ground. Heavy Duty Toggle Clamps are more robust and tend to be used in areas where there’s higher production, potentially more weld debris, or where you need a longer life for the tool. A Heavy Duty Toggle Clamps should be specified if it’s going to be used in a harsh environment, with higher clamping forces, higher holding forces and greater production numbers. Heavy Duty Toggle Clamps were developed originally for the automotive industry where they required high levels of production, high clamping forces and robustness.

Heavy-Duty-Toggle-Clamp
What kind of applications are Toggle Clamps used in?

Toggle Clamps are used in a wide range of applications, literally anywhere where you need to securely hold a component and apply a process to it, whether it be a welding fixture, or gluing something together or simply holding something down to drill or ream a hole in it – almost every kind manufacturing process utilises Toggle Clamps. The automotive industry, particularly in Body in White areas where the panels are welded, riveted or glued.  The automotive industry is one of the biggest users but Toggle Clamps but they can be used for anything from a car body production line to a one off jig where you need to securely hold something in position. Toggle Clamps can also be used on equipment like holding lids down on sieves, they are also used in gluing or bonding operations in the woodworking industry. Basically, Toggle Clamps are used anywhere where you need to quickly and securely hold a component and easily apply and remove the clamp.

How would you go about specifying which type of Toggle Clamp is right for my process or application?

The first thing you want to look at is what action you’re looking for, whether you need a Vertical Action Toggle Clamp, Horizontal Action Toggle Clamp, Hook Action Toggle Clamp, Plier Action Toggle Clamp, Plunger Action Toggle Clamp or Cam Action Toggle Clamp. This depends whether it’s a process where you’re trying to hold a component, or where you need to secure it – where the holding force becomes more important, you need to pull two components together or you have limited space around the Toggle Clamp. These are the things that need to be taken into consideration when your are specifying a Toggle Clamp.

Once you’ve established the action you require, then you need to take into consideration the materials, whether you need it to be Stainless or a normal Mild Steel. You will need to consider  the environment you will be using the Toggle Clamp in, how much force you need, whether you need  a Heavy Duty Toggle Clamp.

Then it depends entirely on what the application is and what you trying to achieve. There are a number of considerations. How you specify your Toggle Clamp will depend on the size of the components that you need to clamp: if there is any variation in the components: what access you need around the components, you might need clearance for a welding gun or milling cutter or clearance for other reasons, like safety; Do you need the clamp to have a secondary lock? The Toggle Clamp might be applied in vibration work, where a Secondary Locking Toggle Clamp is required. We’ve had instances where clients have been using Toggle Clamps to secure something in transport so they need a secondary lock for extra security.

What is the benefit of using a Toggle Clamp over other types of clamp?

One of the main advantages of a Toggle Clamp is that it is quick acting, you just need to apply the handle and that immediately applies the load and secures the component in place. In some instances you could use something like a strap clamp which are quite time consuming to apply the clamps, where you have to fix it manually. If you have to get your components in and secured quickly it’s Toggle Clamps that allow you to do that. Toggle Clamps   generate high holding forces from the small amount of force you put into the clamp. In some instances, with strap clamps for example, the amount of force that they give you can be quite small.

The real benefit of Toggle Clamps is an efficiency benefit. Depending on what you have been  using in the past that efficiency will give a cost benefit by speeding up production and increasing production outputs when you are able to increase the speed that you are loading and unloading components.

How should people go about maintaining Toggle Clamps effectively, and what do we do to ensure a long-life cycle for our Toggle Clamps?

In terms of maintaining a long-life cycle, we like to engineer our clamps to be as robust as they possibly can be by, by using hardened and ground brushes wherever possible and using bigger  pins where we can. We try to engineer our Toggle Clamps so that they lasts as long a time as possible.

In terms of maintenance it’s more a question of making sure the components are kept clean if they’re used in an environment where there’s a lot of debris, they should be lubricated regularly to keep them running. In most instances if they’re well looked after Toggle Clamps  should last a long time if they are used correctly and specified correctly.

Do not hesitate to call us on 0330 223 5344 or email sales@sandfieldengineering.com to speak to us about how we can be helping you to implement safety facilities around Lithium Battery production processes.

 

Dawn Tebbett

Dawn Tebbett

Managing Director

Dawn is a Qualified Engineer and Managing Director of Sandfield Engineering with more than twenty years experience in the design, manufacture and distribution of Toggle Clamps, Automation Products and Custom Engineered Solutions.

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