Using CAD/CAM software has helped this aerospace parts manufacturer achieve increased efficiencies and shorter lead times. Article by Mastercam.
When Kencoa Aerospace began its operations 20 years ago, they were a small company focused on defense applications. But, according to Troy Boston, engineering manager for the company’s U.S.-based operations, they have also progressed into commercial aerospace over the past five to six years and consider themselves very diverse in terms of the parts they can machine for well-known clients such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Gulf Stream, and more.
While headquartered globally in South Korea, the U.S.-based aerospace operation is a Tier-1 supplier of multiaxis precision machined aerostructures, jet engine components, and major assemblies of commercial, military, and business/regional jets.
“We machine anything from plastics, stainless steel, titanium, all the way up to Inconel,” Boston says. He continued to explain that the part sizes they create can range from the size of a quarter up to 20-feet long. The majority of these parts are internal structural components for aircraft and can range anywhere from wing components to cargo floor skins.
To create the parts needed for these defense and commercial aerospace clients, Kencoa turned to Mastercam CAD/CAM software (CNC Software Inc., Tolland, CT) for their machining solutions. Their 40,000 square-foot facility, based in Eastman, Georgia, employs 20 machinists, and of these, five are full-time programmers. Boston explained that their programmers have been trained through various methods, making each one valuable in different ways. Some have had formal programming training and classes, while others were formerly machine operators in their shop and worked their way to programmer. This prior experience helps as they can understand the machining side of the job. “We’ve been able to bring them in, and give them on-the-job training plus Mastercam tutorials, either online or print.”
All About the Software
The software allows these programmers to work on challenging orders including those with specifications that require holding close tolerances where their true position is 0.001 or a diameter that is ±0.0003” to 0.0010.” When presented with any manufacturing challenges, the software has helped with so many issues that it is hard for Boston to choose just one benefit it provides.
“What has impressed me over the last several years has been the OptiRough toolpath and how it has progressed and how easy it is to use. You can basically set the size of your stock, and even for a large hog-out, within a few minutes you can have a very good roughing program to be able to remove large amounts of material without a lot of programming time,” says Boston.
This was a time-consuming process that required quite a bit of geometry creation and many separate toolpaths. OptiRough toolpaths use Dynamic Motion but in a more precise way. The cut uses the entire flute length of the tool, but a small percentage of the tool’s diameter on the first cut, followed by several successive shorter cuts that bring the part into the net shape desired. “Now, with the OptiRough program, you can select a part, select your stock, pick a tool, and it’s almost cheating to be honest, because it makes it so easy,” says Boston.
Now, their machines can run aluminum upwards of 400-in/min. Even with titanium, they are able to run their machines at over 100-in/min.
Cutting pocket corners with an only slightly inclined land is a routine task that requires the angular position to be changed in a machining centre. Here’s how Premium AEROTEC GmbH was able to address that. Article by Starrag.
Christian Welter, Head of Large-Part Production at Premium AEROTEC.
Premium AEROTEC GmbH is a manufacturer of structures and manufacturing systems for aircraft construction. Headquartered in Augsburg, Germany, the company was formed in 2009 when the EADS plant in Augsburg was merged with the Airbus Deutschland plants in Nordenham and Varel.
Established in 1936 as an engine factory, the production facility in Varel handles engine overhauling, and spare parts production for truck and aircraft engines. It employs around 1,600 staff and produces nearly five million components a year, making it one of the world’s leading high-tech sites for aircraft construction.
For Premium AEROTEC, cutting pocket corners with an only slightly inclined land is a routine task that requires the angular position to be changed. While standard fork-type milling heads typically make huge swivel movements to do this, Starrag’s ECOSPEED machines’ tripod heads have significantly faster and more dynamic machining capabilities.
Starrag machining centres with parallel kinematics have proven themselves a worthy addition to one of Europe’s most advanced machine pools. This was reason enough for Premium AEROTEC to opt once more for highly dynamic five-axis simultaneous cutting with a tripod head for their plant in Varel. Due to these advantages, there are now 13 ECOSPEED machining centres in use in Varel.
“In addition to their reliability, it was the high overall dynamism of the ECOSPEED machines that won us over,” explains Christian Welter, Head of Large-Part Production at Premium AEROTEC. “This is why we chose two ECOSPEED F 2040 machines as our latest investment, which have been linked to create a flexible manufacturing system.” This is the newest highlight of Hall 8, where Starrag machining centres with a drive power of 120 kW currently take centre stage. An angled milling head that can be changed automatically now enables aluminium workpieces measuring up to 4 m long to be machined on the flexible manufacturing system (FMS)—not just completely, but in a single clamping position too.
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Global air traffic has practically been brought to a standstill and the global airline industry has plummeted as countries worldwide implement travel restrictions and fleet groundings to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Airlines in Asia Pacific will suffer a large revenue drop of US$113 billion in 2020 compared to 2019, and a 50 percent fall in passenger demand in 2020 compared to 2019 with the worsening COVID-19 crisis, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Furthermore, IATA expects a $314 billion drop in total world carrier earnings this year. Here are some of the measures in the region:
Singapore Airlines has grounded 96 percent of its approximately 200-plane fleet on March 23 and resuming of operations is unclear.
Thai Airways has cancelled all international flights and transferred flights from Bangkok to Phuket, Krabi and Chiang Mai to its sister company Thai Smile Airways. The cancellations will last until May 30.
Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific flights have been suspended until May 15. The airlines are committed to resume operations starting May 16, 2020, depending on government mandates and regulations.
Malaysia Airlines suspended flight operations across its network until May 2020 for domestic and June 2020 for international services.
Indonesia commercial flights—domestic and international—are banned until June 1
Vietnam’s Jetstar Pacific has suspended international flight and cut back domestic flying
The demand for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services are high dependant on the size and flight activity of global fleets. With grounded aircrafts, demand for these services diminishes and MRO providers and spare parts suppliers will suffer, according to a report by Roland Berger.
The original forecast for MRO spending in 2020 has been adjusted with a 59 percent drop for the region—from US$91.2 billion to US$42.7 billion (Oliver Wyman). Major players such as Boeing are switching its focus to defence from commercial flights to weather the crisis while Airbus has postponed ramp up of commercial aircrafts (Globaldata). Furthermore, Airbus has recently dropped out of a joint venture with Thai Airways International for the development of a 11-billion-baht MRO facility at Thailand’s U-Tapao Airport due to the impact of COVID-19.
Despite the bleak outlook, there is hope for the industry with global efforts. Companies like Rolls-Royce has established a COVID-19 data alliance to kickstart economy into recovery. Moreover, general aviation is playing an active role in the fight against the pandemic by providing transport of medical supplies and key personnel.
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As the pandemic is still evolving, what is the future of the aviation and MRO industry? How is the situation in your region? How have you been impacted? What do you think are some strategies which could help this sector recover from the impact?
With the worsening worldwide pandemic, European planemaker, Airbus, has decided to pull out of the joint venture with Thai Airways International to develop a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at Rayong’s U-Tapao Airport. However, Thai Airways has announced that it will press ahead with the project, either on its own or with a new partner.
This 11-billion-baht MRO facility was part of the government’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) mega-investment project to promote Thailand as an aviation and MRO hub in the region. The planned MRO hub would feature the latest digital technologies and was set for completion in 2022-2023.
Unfortunately, with global air traffic practically brought to a standstill, Airbus has been hit hard by the crisis and will be dropping out of the project investment—although the company will still cooperate on technology.
Thai Airways remains hopeful as there is time to find a new partner with construction still in its early stages and that Airbus or Boeing would come back in after the pandemic eases.
The aircraft milled parts market is projected to grow at a healthy rate over the next five years to reach an estimated value of US$ 4.3 billion in 2025, according to a report by Stratview Research.
Milled parts or components are those machined components which are mainly produced through the milling process. Rapid advancements in the milling process i.e. from conventional milling machines to advanced CNC (Computer Numerical Control) milling machines and high-speed machining centers have paved the way for milled components/parts in the aerospace industry. These advancements have also helped the industry to achieve its main objective of optimising metal removal rates and minimising chatter.
The outbreak of COVID-19 is ending the longest 16 years of the industry boon, which had begun when the industry had emerged out from another infectious disease SARS (2002-2003). The aerospace industry is projected to be one of the most severely impacted industries due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As per the recent estimates of IATA, the airline industry is expecting to record a possible loss of US$ 252 billion of passenger revenues, an equivalent of a 38 percent loss in RPKs in 2020 from 2019. Complete lockdown of many countries, due to the pandemic, has forced several airlines to cut their flying capacity due to grounded fleets and operate at a reduced capacity of five percent to 40 percent of their total strength.
The overall impact of the outbreak is still unpredictable; however, currently, it is anticipated to be graver than the SARS (2002-2003) and the MERS (2015). And yet the industry is optimist about its recovery as it did during SARS (2002-2003).
The demand for milled parts in the industry is largely dependent on the overall health of the aviation industry. Huge order backlogs of Boeing and Airbus (13,237 aircraft at the end of Feb 2020), accelerating demand for replacing iconic aircraft such as A380 and B747, which are forced to retire early by several airlines due to the outbreak, with A321, A350XWB and B787, and the market entry of new aircraft programs such A321XLR, B777X, C919, and MC-21; are anticipated to assure a speedy recovery of the aircraft industry including milled parts.
Asia-Pacific is expected to witness the highest growth during the forecast period, driven by upcoming indigenous aircraft program i.e. COMAC C919 and Mitsubishi SpaceJet, and opening of assembly plant of Boeing and Airbus in China for B737, A330, A320, and A350. Further, key economies, such as India and China, in the region are incessantly increasing their defense budget with the purpose to acquire the latest military aircraft to solidify their defense capabilities along with their offset policy and development of indigenous military aircraft such as Tejas and J20.
Rolls-Royce has invited a group of leading companies to collaborate on Emer2gent, a new alliance of data analytics experts challenged with finding new, faster ways of supporting businesses and governments globally as they recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Early alliance members are Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, IBM, Google Cloud, The Data City, Truata, Rolls-Royce and ODI Leeds. The alliance will be facilitated and co-ordinated by innovation specialists, Whitespace.
Together the initial wave of members brings all the key elements of open innovation; data publication, licensing, privacy, security; data analytics capability; and collaborative infrastructure, to kick off its early work and grow its membership.
Emer2gent will combine traditional economic, business, travel and retail data sets with behaviour and sentiment data, to provide new insights into – and practical applications to support – the global recovery from COVID-19. This work will be done with a sharp focus on privacy and security, using industry best practices for data sharing and robust governance.
Emer2gent models will help get people and businesses back to work as soon as possible by identifying lead indicators of economic recovery cycles. Businesses, both small and large, around the world, as well as governments, can use these insights to build the confidence they need to take early decisions, such as investments or policies, that could shorten or limit the recessionary impacts from the pandemic.
“We want the global economy to get better as soon as possible so people can get back to work. Our data innovation community can help do this and is at its best when it comes together for the common good,” said Caroline Gorski, Global Director, R2 Data Labs, the Rolls-Royce data innovation catalyst which started the alliance
“People, businesses and governments around the world have changed the way they spend, move, communicate and travel because of COVID-19 and we can use that insight, along with other data, to provide the basis for identifying what new insights and trends may emerge that signify the world’s adjustment to a ‘new normal’ after the pandemic, ” she continued.
Solutions for suppliers seeking ways to meet new productivity challenges, including increasing demand and shorter lead times. Article by Michael Palmieri, Makino.
Aerospace and defence (A&D) suppliers are feeling the heat.
Over the next five years, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are expected to increase commercial aircraft production by 21 percent. The ramp-up means suppliers face unprecedented challenges. They must find ways to satisfy demand for more components while OEMs place more pressure on them to decrease lead times and prices.
Industry 4.0 technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), automation and advanced machine-tool capabilities, such as 5-axis machining centres, could become more common on A&D shop floors as suppliers seek ways to keep pace with OEM demands.
These technologies can help the A&D suppliers respond to market needs faster without expanding their workforce. This white paper will explore some of these trends and the solutions that A&D suppliers need to remain competitive.
Enable Faster Throughput for Complex Designs
Modern aircraft designs are forcing suppliers to rethink their current production capabilities. Older machine tools may not be equipped to manage lighter-weight, heat-resistant materials, such as titanium. Modern machining centres that are purpose-built for aerospace applications can reduce set-up times, increase accuracy and improve throughput on less-conventional designs.
Titanium vs. Aluminium Considerations
Aluminium makes up about half of the aerospace materials market by volume. But titanium use is increasing as manufacturers seek ways to reduce weight for components in next-generation planes. Titanium is lighter than structural steels historically used and almost as strong. Aluminium and titanium present different challenges that manufacturers must take into consideration when selecting machine-tooling solutions. Aluminium requires more horsepower and high rpm while titanium requires high torque at low rpm.
Suppliers need access to a variety of machine tools that can perform fast removal rates on a wide range of materials, including aluminium, stainless steel and titanium. Several key advancements in machine tooling are helping A&D suppliers address different material requirements. Some of the key technologies developed to increase productivity for titanium machining include:
Autonomic spindles that protect the spindle from excessive forces damaging the bearings. This can reduce unplanned downtime related to machine damage—which, in turn, optimizes productivity.
High-pressure, high-flow coolant systems deliver large volumes of coolant directly to the cutting zone for faster chip evacuation, increased production, and tool life.
Vibration damping systems that adjust frictional forces based on low-frequency vibration sensing, avoiding chatter and cutter damage from structure resonance in real time. Vibration damping enhances depth of cuts, which results in higher removal rates.
Developments in aluminium machining are also helping A&D suppliers increase productivity. This includes greater spindle power to improve processing speeds, improvements to acceleration and cutting feed rates, and large-capacity automatic tool changers that are capable of holding more than 100 tools and automatic pallet changer—which can reduce changeover and set-up times significantly.
In both aluminium and titanium, 5-axis capability is a key advantage by providing an efficient way to produce typical, complex, A&D part geometries. In addition, large-capacity tool changers and pallet changing automation can allow for unattended machining, which means less operator labour cost per part. These system features reduce machine downtime between parts and part handling between set-ups, which also lowers labour costs. The ability to reduce handling time, including moving parts from machine to machine or resetting them on new fixtures, also helps increase throughput and shrink production lead times to enable faster deliveries.
Maximise Productivity to Avoid Costly Delays
Many A&D suppliers are struggling to meet demand. For instance, in November 2018 Boeing reported decreases in 737 deliveries due to supplier delays. The lead time in A&D manufacturing is already longer compared to other industries, which means suppliers can’t afford machine failures or any other issues that could result in downtime. Suppliers may need to place a greater emphasis on predictive maintenance and automation to maximise productivity.
Why Reliability Matters
On-time delivery issues are urgent enough that Boeing and Airbus are working with suppliers to ensure they’re equipped to meet expectations. In addition, unplanned downtime costs manufacturers about $50 billion annually, and equipment failure is the cause of downtime 42 percent of the time.
Manufacturers are implementing automation and Industry 4.0 technologies to gain visibility into machine performance issues before they lead to major repairs or failures. In the A&D sector, Industry 4.0 is bringing predictive insights to operators and technicians in several ways, including:
The ability to access charts that display alarm events, so operators and technicians can observe trends and implement corrective measures.
Access to spindle and axis monitoring technologies that record and display axis forces, loads and speeds. This data can then be used to fine-tune processes for faster cutting speeds and greater depths of cut. In addition, manufacturers can monitor critical tool data for multiple machines from one centralised location. Operators can use this data to make adjustments for enhanced tool performance and lifespan.
Camera monitoring capabilities that capture an internal view of a machine’s work zone, making it easier to solve processing errors before they impact part quality. Technicians also can receive email and text notifications of alarms, including images of the work zone. This helps service staff immediately address maintenance issues before they become costly problems.
According to Deloitte, manufacturers that implement predictive maintenance technologies typically experience operations and MRO material cost savings of 5 percent to 10 percent, reduced inventory carrying costs, equipment uptime and availability increases of 10 percent to 20 percent, reduced maintenance planning time of 20 percent to 50 percent and overall maintenance cost reductions of five percent to ten percent.
A&D suppliers also are realising enhanced performance through automated machining solutions, such as pallet-stacking systems. The Makino Machining Complex (MMC2) is an automated material handling system that links Makino horizontal machining centres, pallet loaders and operators. The system provides a constant flow of parts to the machining centres, so it can operate for extended periods unattended, including overnight and on weekends. The ability to automate manual processes reduces the need for time-consuming manual tasks and increases flexibility to meet OEM demands.
Bridging the Workforce Skills Gap
As machine tools become more technologically advanced, the A&D industry must confront another persistent challenge: the lack of skilled workers. In a recent industry workforce survey, 75 percent of respondents said they are concerned with the availability of key skills. “The need for talent will become even more critical in the next few years, as the baby boom generation moves beyond traditional retirement age – and the unavoidable loss at some point of their expertise and knowledge,” according to Aviation Week’s “2018 Workforce Report.” Machines that are equipped with IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and other smart capabilities can enhance productivity for existing employees and minimise the learning curve for new hires.
The Case for a Connected Workforce
Voice-assistant technology common in the consumer world, such as Alexa and Siri, are now making their way into modern machine tools. In fact, more than 80 percent of A&D industry executives say they expect their workforce to be directly impacted by an AI-based decision within the next three years, according to an Accenture report. Voice-activated commands reduce manual interaction with the machine and helps operators translate and analyse big data. These digital assistants typically work through the use of headsets. Operators speak commands into the headsets, such as “turn the machine’s lights on,” “change tools,” or “show set-up instructions.” These voice-actuated capabilities simplify machine operation by reducing the time operators spend searching for information or performing manual tasks.
AI also serves as a coach for operators who may not be familiar with various operating procedures, such as how to perform different maintenance tasks. For example, a worker can ask the voice assistant how to change a filter. In many cases, these intelligent machines are not replacing operators but helping the existing workforce perform their tasks more efficiently.
They’re also allowing workers to move easily from one type of machine to another without a significant learning curve because they’re not reliant on an unfamiliar machine interface. These intelligent machines may help A&D manufacturers identify and onboard skilled workers with greater ease because they require less training and experience than more traditional technology.
Looking Ahead: What’s Next for A&D Machining
High-tech machining solutions are advancing at a rapid pace. The availability of new technologies comes at a critical point for the A&D industry. Suppliers must continue to improve productivity and reduce costs amid a constantly changing environment. In addition to OEM demands, the industry faces new competitive challenges, including potential price increases for materials. For instance, A&D manufacturers are still uncertain how U.S. tariffs on aluminium and steel imports could impact prices. The potential for higher material prices puts additional pressure on suppliers as they try to meet increasing demands for lower costs per part and delivery.
Suppliers need equipment that can reduce downtime, increase productivity and minimise labour costs. Manufacturers should consider machine-tool providers with a broad portfolio of equipment built specifically for the aerospace industry. The latest machining centres can perform high-precision tasks faster than ever. Vendors with experience in the aerospace industry can help A&D suppliers evaluate their needs and select a solution that is appropriate for specific applications. Makino is continuously updating its machines with the latest technologies, including automation and IoT capabilities, to help the industry produce accurate structural and turbo machinery parts faster with less variability and at the lowest cost.
How ATEP Slashes Titanium Machining Costs
Arconic Titanium & Engineered Products (ATEP) in Laval, Quebec, Canada, needed titanium-machining solutions to meet customer demands to lower costs and shrink delivery times. ATEP specializes in assembly and precision machining of various titanium aircraft components, including wing attachments, seat tracks and doorframes. Standard machine platforms couldn’t provide the rigidity, flexibility or control the company needed to meet its customer requirements. The company decided to install several Makino T-Series 5-axis horizontal titanium machining centres. Research engineers from ATEP determined the machines could help the company perform certain production processes three times faster than previous methods. It eventually led to a 60 percent reduction in cycle times and 30 percent reduction of tool costs.
The company also has realized benefits related to quality improvements. ATEP is a fully integrated supplier of titanium and other specialty metals products. ATEP is receiving additional business from customers who are asking the company to correct quality issues from other suppliers, according to a company executive.
The aerospace industry is one of the most important driving factors for cutting tool development. Here are the recent tool developments to address the challenges in aerospace parts manufacturing. Article by Andrei Petrilin, ISCAR.
The aerospace industry is not only one of the largest consumers of cutting tools but also one of the most important driving factors for cutting tool development. The aerospace industry features continuous efforts aimed at improving aircraft component manufacturing efficiency, increasing flight safety, and reducing potential environmental damage.
To achieve these goals, the aerospace industry must constantly improve the design of aircraft engines and airframe structural elements, to increase the protection of the aircraft from the damaging action of such dangerous factors as lightening and icing. This, in turn, has resulted in a series of industry demands, including the introduction of engineering materials that require new production technologies, developing appropriate machinery and cutting tools. The aircraft manufacturer has to deal with complex parts, which are produced from various materials with the use of different machining strategies. This is why the aerospace industry is considered as a powerful and leading force for progress in cutting tool development.
Many materials used for manufacturing aircraft components have poor machinability. Titanium with its impressive strength-to-weight ratio, high-temperature superalloys (HTSA) that do not lose their strength under high thermal load, and composites, are difficult-to-cut materials. In order to increase output rate and improve productivity, aerospace component manufacturers must use machine tools capable of implementing advanced machining operations. In such conditions, the role of cutting tools is significantly increased; however, cutting tools can represent the weakest link in the whole manufacturing system due to their low durability as a system element, which can decrease productivity. Customers from the aerospace sector expect higher levels of performance and reliability from cutting tools. Tool manufacturers now are being challenged and inspired, in terms of developing and integrating sometimes unconventional solutions into their products, to meet these expectations.
Figure 2: ISCAR’s F3S chipformer was designed specifically for finish turning high-temperature nickel-based alloys and exotic materials.
Most cutting tools continue to be manufactured from cemented carbide. Over recent years, ISCAR has introduced several carbide grades designed specifically for aerospace materials, including
IC 5820. The grade combines the advantages of a new submicron substrate, a progressive hard CVD coating, and a post-coating treatment to substantially increase impact strength and heat resistance. The inserts from this grade are intended mostly for milling titanium. Pinpointed wet cooling and especially high-pressure coolant (HPC) significantly improve grade performance.
Ceramics, another tool material, possess considerably higher hot hardness and chemical inertness than cemented carbides. This means that ceramics ensure much greater cutting speeds and eliminate diffusion wear. One of ISCAR’s recent developments, a family of solid ceramic endmills, is intended for machining HTSA. These endmills are made from SiAlON, a type of silicon-nitride-based ceramic comprising silicon (Si), aluminium (Al), oxygen (O) and nitrogen (N). When compared with solid carbide tools, these endmills enable up to 50 times increase in cutting speed, which can drastically save machining hours.
For turning applications, the company expanded its line of indexable SiAlON inserts for machining HTSA materials. The new products (Figure 1) have already proven their effectiveness in turning aero engine parts from super alloys such as Waspaloy and different Inconel and Rene grades. In contrast to other silicon nitride ceramics, SiAlON possesses higher oxidation resistance but less toughness. Therefore, a key of a SiAlON insert reliability is additional edge preparation. ISCAR’s new TE edge geometry has been developed to increase tool life in heavy load conditions during rough operations and interrupted cuts.
Figure 3: The recently launched modular drills for multi-spindle and Swiss-type machines combine the SUMOCHAM design with a FLEXFIT threaded connection.
Improving a cutting geometry is an important direction in the development of cutting tools. Cutting geometry is a subject of theoretical and experimental researches, and advances in science and technology have brought a new powerful instrument to aid in tool design: 3D computer modelling of chip formation. ISCAR’s R&D team actively uses modelling to find optimal cutting geometries and form the rake face of indexable inserts and exchangeable heads.
The F3S chipformer for the most popular ISO inserts, such as CNMG, WNMG and SNMG, was designed specifically for finish turning high-temperature nickel-based alloys and exotic materials (Figure 2). It ensures a smooth and easy cut with notable chip breaking results. The remarkable working capability of the designed cutting geometry is a direct result of chip flow modelling.
In hole making, applying modelling to the design process significantly contributed to creating a chip splitting geometry of SUMOCHAM exchangeable carbide heads for drilling holes with depth up to 12-hole diameters in hard-to-cut austenitic and duplex stainless steel.
Figure 4: The need to increase productivity and boost metal removal rates for milling aluminium workpieces, especially large parts of aerospace structural components, has led machine tool builders to develop milling machines with a powerful main drive—up to 150 kW—with high spindle speeds of up to 33,000 rpm.
Aerospace products can vary immensely in material, dimensions, shape , complexity, and more. To make such a diverse range of products, the product manufacturer needs dozens of machine tools and technological processes. Not every standard cutting tool is optimal for performing certain machining operations with maximum productivity and, consequently, the aerospace industry is a leading consumer of customized tools.
A customer producing titanium parts might be interested in solutions comprising indexable shell mills and arbors from the standard line; while another customer producing similar parts might prefer special milling cutters with an integral body, for direct mounting in a machine spindle.
ISCAR developed the MULTI-MASTER and SUMOCHAM families of rotating tools with exchangeable heads and different body configurations to ensure various tool assembly options that simplify customization and decrease the need for costly tailormade products.
A further example of simplified customisation can be found in ISCAR’s recently-launched modular drills for multi-spindle and Swiss-type machines. The drills combine the SUMOCHAM design with a FLEXFIT threaded connection (Figure 3). Multi-spindle and Swiss-type machines typically have a limited space for tooling, which means that the tools in operation need to be as short as possible to avoid collisions and facilitate easy set up. A wide range of FLEXFIT threaded adaptors and flatted shanks has been designed precisely to fit the drills and maximally shorten an overhang.
Responding to demands from the aerospace sector, the company also expanded the MULTI-MASTER family by introducing a new thread connection to increase the diameter range for the exchangeable endmill heads to 32 mm (1.25″).
Although machining aluminium might appear to be an extremely simple process, effective cutting of aluminium actually represents a whole field of technology with its own laws and challenges.
The need to increase productivity and boost metal removal rates for milling aluminium workpieces, especially large parts of aerospace structural components, has led machine tool builders to develop milling machines with a powerful main drive—up to 150 kW—with high spindle speeds of up to 33,000 rpm. To meet this demand, ISCAR has expanded its family of 90° indexable milling cutters by introducing new tools carrying large-size inserts that enable up to 22 mm (.870″) depth of cut (Figure 4). The tools have been designed to eliminate insert radial displacement, which might occur due to high centrifugal forces during very high rotational speed. This concept facilitates reliable milling in a rotational speed range of up to 31,000 rpm.
In hole making, the company developed new inserts for drilling aluminium with indexable drills from the DR-TWIST drilling tool range. The inserts are peripherally ground and feature sharp cutting edges and polished rake face for light cut, preventing adhesion.
ISCAR’s cutting tool program for the aerospace sector is based on several principles: the complex needs of this industry, taking into consideration trends in metalworking, and the drive to strengthen partnerships with tool consumers. ISCAR believes that such a tri-pronged approach ensures the successful realization of innovative ideas for efficient machining of the difficult-to-cut materials that characterize this challenging and dynamic field.
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Steve Bell of Renishaw Singapore discusses the additive manufacturing trend for aerospace parts, and the journey towards Industry 4.0. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
At the recent Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific (ITAP) 2019 event in Singapore, Renishaw (Singapore) Pte Ltd showcased an end-to-end solution involving the production of aerospace blades and its assembly into a blisk. From additive manufacturing, where the aerospace blades were manufactured (Station 1) though metal 3D printing; to the calibration station, which featured Renishaw’s XL80 and XK10 calibration products, designed to make sure that machining processes are as accurate as they can be; to Station 3, which featured a machine tool showing some of Renishaw’s probing technologies, particularly SupaScan, which is a method of using a scanning probe on a machine tool to gather data quickly, and enables set up of a part very accurately. Alongside the machine tool is the Equator gauging system, which makes sure that parts being finished on the machine tool stay within tolerance. Finally, Station 4 showcases the final assembly of the blades into a blisk, which is being inspected on a CMM using a REVO 5-axis scanning technology.
“Basically, we’re looking at a complete, end-to-end story of the part,” says Steve Bell, general manager for ASEAN at Renishaw Singapore. “All of that supplemented by Renishaw Central, a software product that allows you to gather data from the complete mix of Renishaw equipment; and from there, to use the data to make intelligent decisions about your manufacturing processes.
According to Bell, it is the first time for company to attend ITAP. “We heard good things about last year’s ITAP event, so we decided to take part this year,” he says. “What we are seeing is that it is very much focused on automation, smart factory, Industry 4.0—these are all things that are of interest to us as a company. Industry 4.0 is all about connectivity of your equipment, getting useful information from the equipment, and then using that information to make sensible decisions about how you continue your manufacturing process. And all of that is very much what Renishaw is about.”
Growing Aerospace Industry
The aerospace industry in Singapore is a growing market, according to Bell. “It is very much an industry niche within Singapore,” he says.
The challenge, though, is the accuracy, the need for conformity of parts, and the need to reach the approval levels that are essential within the industry.
“The tolerances are constantly getting tighter, so, people are looking for improvements in performance, they are looking for faster, more consistent ways to manufacture parts,” he notes. “These areas are where we think we have a lot to contribute.”
An evolution in the manufacture of aerospace parts is taking place, especially with the emergence of 3D printing. In fact, the blades showcased here by Renishaw feature a hollow lattice-structured central section. “The aim is to make the blades strong, but also as light as possible,” says Bell.
Journey to Industry 4.0
ITAP covers the full gamut of industry—from top level factory management systems, all the way down to shop floor tooling.
“Industry 4.0 is meant to bring all of the diverse parts together, to bring the data on to one single platform where decisions can be made,” says Bell. “So, I think, an exhibition that reflects that, with a focus on Industry 4.0, makes a lot of sense to us.”
According to Bell, people have been talking a lot about Industry 4.0, “but the first signs of real implementation are just beginning to be seen,” he says. The picture across Southeast Asia is quite mixed. While some markets are moving rapidly to Industry 4.0, for others, it is going to take longer toward smart factory implementation.
“I look after Southeast Asia. In Singapore, a lot of the heavy lifting has been done by the Singapore government, so they are pushing the SMEs towards an understanding of Industry 4.0, and hopefully, also implementation. From our point of view as a company, our first requirement is to make sure that our own equipment can be integrated into central systems ; we need to have all the hooks in place so that the data from our equipment can be ported into other factory management systems. That’s exactly what we are trying to showcase at this exhibition.”
A greater focus on energy efficiency and an accelerating shift towards electrification brings new engineering challenges that require increased use of simulation tools earlier in the design lifecycle. Romax Technology brings more than 30 years of experience in electromechanical simulation and multi-physics design optimisation.
The cloud-enabled MBSE (model-based systems engineering) platform, Romax Nexus, provides a complete workflow for designing, simulating and delivering the next generation of energy efficient drive and power generation systems, enabling engineers to collaborate and optimise electrical and mechanical design simultaneously. By simulating the operation of the entire system – engine, gears, bearings and housings – the efficiency of automobile, aerospace and wind turbine powertrains can be optimised, and the battery range of electric vehicles can be increased.
“One of the greatest challenges of our time is the battle against climate change and the need to reduce GHG emissions. The acquisition of Romax Technology enables us to meet the growing need for electrification, providing our customers with integrated tools that empower engineering teams to develop the next generation of energy-efficient electric vehicles,” said Hexagon President and CEO Ola Rollén.
“Electrification is a growing trend in automotive and aerospace but also presents new opportunities for Hexagon in the development of renewable energy systems.”