The HSK toolholder-spindle connection was developed to overcome shortcomings of the 7/24 steep-taper interface, especially at higher speeds. However, the HSK system was standardized quickly, without detailed evaluation based on operational experience. Several issues concerning the reliability, maintainability, and safety of the interface have been raised within the international engineering community.

This study was undertaken to analytically investigate factors which influence the performance and limitations of the HSK toolholder system. Finite Element Models were created to analyze the effects of varying toolholder and spindle taper geometry, axial spindle taper length, drawbar/clamping load, spindle speed, applied bending load, and applied torsional load on HSK toolholders. Outputs considered include taper-to-taper contact pressures, taper-to-taper clearances, minimum drawbar forces, interface stiffnesses, and stresses in the toolholder. Static deflections at the end of the holder predicted by the models agreed well with measured values.

The results showed that the interface stiffness and load-carrying capability are significantly affected by taper mismatch and dimensional variations, and that stresses in the toolholder near the drive slots can be quite high, leading to potential fatigue issues for smaller toolholders subjected to frequent clamping-unclamping cycles (e.g., in high volume applications). The results can be used to specify minimum toolholder material properties for critical applications, as well as drawbar design and spindle/toolholder gaging guidelines to increase system reliability and maintainability.

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