Slotless Profiles from Item
Plain faced profiles were first introduced into the Item machine construction system some years ago, mainly for aesthetic reasons so users were able to present a clean and uncluttered appearance on faces where the T-slots were not wanted.
If access was wanted at a certain point, the grooves extruded in behind the plain faces could be exposed but only by performing a rather time-consuming milling operation. So profiles were consequently produced using various patterns and combinations of plain faces and grooved faces - the idea being to select your profile so as to avoid as far as possible the need to machine the plain faces.
Now Item have taken the plain faced concept further by introducing into the Line 8 system three new profiles without any visible grooves on any face. Designated "40x40 4N light"," 80x40 6N light" and "80x80 8N light", the first numbers represent the section size in mm, and the second the number of grooves that are hidden behind the apparently plain surface.
The T-slots can be exposed at will in any position, by drilling two holes at the ends of the desired slot, and simply levering with a T-Slot Opener or even a flat screwdriver to "tear out" the material in between. This is a relatively quick operation, compared with the milling operation necessary to expose the groove on the older plain-faced profiles.
Although this "tear out" method is not new, Item have avoided it until they were satisfied that a consistent finish could be achieved. In order to make it easy to lever out the material above the groove it is necessary to create weak points by making the aluminium layer thinner than normal. Previously, this has led to the thin area showing through to the face of the profile, raising quality problems which Item were not prepared to accept. They are now satisfied that extrusion technology has advanced sufficiently to overcome this problem.
All the existing Item parts and fasteners can be used with the new profiles, and a new fastener has been developed along with the profiles to allow clean connections where this would otherwise be difficult to achieve.
Because the profiles now can be joined with no visible slots to trap dust, and any holes to access the heads of fasteners sealed with close-fitting plastic caps, it is expected that new applications will be found in clean environments such as food or pharmaceuticals, which have hitherto been reluctant users of profile systems.