The continuous dirt accumulation poses the biggest challenge for the deep-hole drilling and milling machine. This article looks at how the energy supply for such machines can be maintained reliably under extreme environmental conditions. Article by igus.
In machines combining milling and drilling functions, extremely high demands are made on the energy supply system for the main spindle. Dust, dirt and drilling fluid account for maximum loads from the outside. From the inside, heavy hydraulic hoses, in particular, affect the stability. Most of the time, the manufacturer relies on the very thick plastic energy tube for supply so that the performance data of the universal machine remains correct in the long run. This also protects and routes all cables and hoses.
“The continuous dirt accumulation poses the biggest challenge for the deep-hole drilling and milling machine,” says Thomas Gemeinhardt, managing director of the Auerbach Maschinenfabrik GmbH in Ellefeld. “In addition, the performance data of the machine tools increase, but the availability of interior space remains the same. To supply energy to the main spindle reliably, Auerbach uses the new energy tube ‘RX’ in its multi-function ‘AX-TLF’ type, which combines the milling and deep-hole drilling systems in one machine.” According to Gemeinhardt, it is 100 percent tight and ensures safe cable protection even in continuous use.
Milling and Deep-hole Drilling Systems in One
Manufacturing machine tools for over 60 years, Auerbach Maschinenfabrik manufactures not just the traditional milling machines, but also multi-functional machines.
Gemeinhardt comments, “Our customers want multi-functional machines. As a result, our specialty today is the combination of conventional milling techniques with modern deep-hole drilling systems in one machine.”
The ‘AX-TLF’ type series not only saves on purchase costs. The necessary set-up times can be reduced because the complete machining is possible with only one clamping. Depending on the design, the machines work on workpieces with drill diameters from 6mm to 65mm—in special cases up to 100 mm—whereby in one move, drill depths of up to 2.1mm, and in special cases up to 3mm, are possible. “We feel well-equipped for the future,” says Gemeinhardt.
Quality is top priority at the company. “With our high-quality machines, we want to constantly maintain our position as a special supplier in the market,” says Gemeinhardt. “For this, we have our own development department to implement specific customer requirements. We place value on the traditional German engineering quality. This also applies to the selection of suppliers.”
The AX-TLF type series consists of five basic machines, which serve as a platform for numerous variation options. This modularity pays off. In addition to the traditional mold-making and tooling, the combination machines are used in, among other things, the aviation and aerospace industry, general mechanical engineering, solar industry, apparatus engineering, and the oil and gas industry. This wide-ranging spectrum of applications brings more than the most varied machining demands. Even the choice of materials is wide, ranging from soft graphite through aluminum, and standard steels up to high-strength stainless steels and titanium alloys.
Addressing Continuous Dirt Accumulation
“Our machines are versatile,” says Gemeinhardt. In general, they can handle all types of materials. The requirements for a machine vary, such as the components used. And in this instance, dirt accumulation plays a major role. Graphite, for example, is machined dry and is extremely abrasive and lubricating. If it is not exhausted, the entire environment would be black in the shortest time. When it comes to deep-hole drilling, where a lot of drilling oil is used, this creeps in everywhere and is extremely aggressive.
One option is the minimum quantity lubrication. It only works with customers who machine a defined material. Here, lubricated air cooled at high pressure is used for deep-hole drilling. Due to the atomized oil, the particles fly through the work area before they settle everywhere.
While supplying energy to the main spindle, the plastic energy tube lies always in the immediate chip area. This means that hot chips remain partially on the tube, and it is exposed to continuous dirt accumulation and drilling oil. In the process, the machines, depending on orders, work in three shifts for seven days a week. In addition to the extreme environmental conditions, there is a particularly small bending radius of 100mm. And taut hydraulic hoses that are as hard as an iron bar increase the pressure within the energy supply system.
Enter the RX Energy Tube
“Due to increased milling capacity, we sought an even more robust solution for the energy supply for a customer as part of a retrofit with new built-in pressure hoses,” recalls Gemeinhardt. Since that time, only the RX energy tubes in the size 40 are used in the combination machine for milling and drilling.
The RX e-tube enclosed cable carriers from igus offer extreme protection against chips and dirt.
“Our universal machine tool needs to assert itself in a tough competition. Improvements are in the details,” says Gemeinhardt. “Accordingly, we are constantly improving the performance data of our machines. We are currently developing, for example, a water-cooled spindle. Here, the machine is equipped simultaneously with sealing air, which means we must lay two more cables.” Therefore, here, the new large RX size with an inner height of 73mm should be used to ensure energy supply.
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