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Dividing Head: Universal versus Semi-Universal

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  • Dividing Head: Universal versus Semi-Universal

    For less demanding tasks, is a full Universal Dividing Head (such as those
    built under the Vertex brand) equally convenient to use as the Semi-Universal
    Dividing Head? Or does the added complexity of the change gears and their
    mechanisms contribute to greater set-up & operation?

    If you only needed to knock some corners onto a piece of round to turn it
    into a hex, would it matter whether you had a Universal or a Semi-Universal
    at your disposal, say in a BS-1 size?


  • #2
    If your only requirements are for simple indexing in the combinations provided by the standard set of index plates, there is no need for the universal dividing head.

    In the event of needing some other combinations, John Stevenson offers index plates with other hole combinations to fill the voids.

    In other words, save your money and purchase the plain vanilla variety.
    Jim H.


    • #3
      When my universal is set for for the semi-universal mode, it operates exactly the same as my smaller semi-universal head (I have both and have yet to use the full universal).

      As for putting hex flats on round bar stock, for small lengths and diameters, I'd probably use a 5C hex collet holder in a vise, simple and fast.

      Back to the universal head, I bought mine new and for me it was a waste of money. Given the choice again, I'd go for an electronically controlled indexing system, which I view as superior for most complex division tasks (lots of division rates, fewer errors). The only advantage I see in a universal is the ability to couple to something like a mill table for helical cuts, something I don't do.
      Last edited by Pherdie; 02-17-2012, 11:21 AM.


      • #4
        Thank you JCHannum and Pherdie.

        I presently own a hor/ver 8" rotary table that came equipped w/ two index
        plates. I also have a 5C Spin Index.

        However, an essentially new, BS-1 10-3/8" swing Universal Dividing Head
        of the Vertex swiveling head design w/ all pieces, including tail stock,
        is available to me for a modest sum (decidedly less $$ than an equivalent
        Semi-Universal.) The collection weighs something in the order of 68 kg
        (150 lbs).

        The swivel feature and tail stock alone put the UDH ahead of my current
        rotary table.

        Pherdie has answered the OP to say a UDH in S-UDH mode operates akin to
        the S-UDH. So: in for a penny, in for a pound. If I am prepared to take
        on a Semi-Universal, then I will not be disadvantaged by taking on a full
        Universal at a favourable price.

        The suggestion about an electronically controlled indexer caught my
        attention. I knew that there are 4th-axis units for CNC applications but didn't
        consider that there might be stand-alone indexers with an easy-to-use
        pendant controller like the little Sherline CNC 4" Rotary Indexer.

        From what I can see so far, though, a unit with features and capacity
        similar to a Vertex BS-1 would be several thousand dollars - beyond my



        • #5
          I have a Haas 5C Indexer/servo controler and tailstock which I also fitted with a Buck Set-True 4" three jaw chuck. I also made a 'face plate' for the unit, which has really been useful.
          It has been worth the money when I need it. I have used it on my manual mills and surface grinder but wish it could be 'timed' with table movement. The only way I have been able to do so is by timing, with a stopwatch, but repeating is still iffy. All movement must occur exactly the same to produce the work. I believe the universal D Head unit would have been a better deal for that type (helical) of work, at least on the mills.
          If I had a lot of helix work and the money, I would get the universal for the timing ability.
          Just my opinion.

          After thought, the Haas unit did cost $5000.00+

          Mentally confused and prone to wandering!


          • #6
            Originally posted by krutch
            I have a Haas 5C Indexer/servo controler and tailstock ... I have used
            it on my manual mills and surface grinder, but wish it could be 'timed'
            with table movement.
            I imagine with an encoder mounted to the table that a smart, motivated
            person could create an interface that drove the Indexer in relation to table
            travel. (Intuition tells me the results may not be to the standard of a 4-axis
            machine, but it might be better than no integration between the Indexer
            and table.)

            Regrettably, such talents are not in my repertoire. In any event, the
            buy-in for the Haas Indexer is a deal-breaker for me at this time.



            • #7
              cnc indexer

              You can do a search on google like DIY cnc indexer,you will find interesting info on control and step motor that can be use on manual tool.