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A New Approach To Aircraft Titanium Machining

A New Approach To Aircraft Titanium Machining

A New Approach To Aircraft Titanium Machining

Makino introduces a new approach to overcome the challenges in titanium parts machining for aerospace manufacturers. 

The appeal of Titanium is no mystery. Its material properties of toughness, strength, corrosion resistance, thermal stability and light weight are highly beneficial to the construction of today’s aircraft.

However, aerospace manufacturers producing titanium parts quickly discover the difficulty these material properties present during the machining process. The combination of titanium’s poor thermal conductivity, strong alloying tendency and chemical reactivity with cutting tools are a detriment to tool life, metal-removal rates and ultimately the manufacturer’s profit margin.

Producing titanium parts efficiently requires a delicate balance between productivity and profitability. However, in standard machining practices these two factors share an inverse relationship, meaning greater productivity can come at a higher cost due to rapid tool degradation, while the desire to increase profit margins by extending tool life may result in decreased metal-removal rates and extended cycle times.

Overcoming this issue requires a new approach by Makino in which all components of the machining process are developed and integrated specific to the material’s unique challenges—requiring a reassessment of even the most basic machine tool design considerations. This was the concept for the new T-Series 5-axis horizontal machining centers with ADVANTiGE technologies, and the results speak for themselves—four times the productivity and double the tool life.

Changing the Rules

In the past, and even in some shops today, titanium is typically machined using multi-spindle gantries and machines with geared head spindles. While these technologies have been effective, the growing complexity of part geometries and required accuracies have brought forth several limitations, including machine and spindle vibration, poor chip removal and limited tooling options.

In support of the aerospace industry’s demand for titanium, Makino established a Global Titanium Research and Development Center, managed by a select group of engineers with knowledge and experience around titanium in both academic and industrial backgrounds. 

The company’s breakthrough, ADVANTiGE, is a comprehensive set of technologies that includes an extra-rigid machine construction, Active Damping System, high-pressure, high-flow coolant system, Coolant Microsizer System and an Autonomic Spindle Technology.  Each technology is designed specifically for the titanium machining process, providing dramatic improvements in both tool life and productivity.

Creating a Rigid Platform

Rigidity of a machine tool is one of the single most important components in titanium machining, heavily influencing the equipment’s stable cutting parameters. 

Machines designed with low rigidity offer limited stable cutting zones, dramatically reducing the maximum level of productivity that can be achieved across all spindle speeds. To increase the productivity of a low-rigidity machine, manufacturers have only one option: taking lighter cuts and increasing spindle speeds, resulting in dramatic reductions in tool life.

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