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Operating In The Single-Digit Micron Range

Operating in the Single-Digit Micron Range

Peter Mösle of Blum-Novotest talks about the trends happening in the automotive manufacturing industry, and how the company has kept up with manufacturers’ new requirements.

Peter Mösle, Head of Sales of the Measuring Machines business division at Blum-Novotest, spoke about current challenges around post-process measuring technology and the structural changes in the automotive and supplier industry.


Peter Mösle (PM): Our measuring machines are part of the production lines, so changes in the machining centres often impact our area of responsibility directly. In particular, the continuous reduction in cycle times, but also the ever-decreasing tolerances are challenges that we must solve. Where workshop drawings previously specified tenths or at most a few hundredths of a millimetre, today’s requirements are in the single-digit micron range. Another key aspect is repeatability, which means the ability to investigate the fifth or 5,000th workpiece in a reproducible manner. 

Ultimately, all these measured results must also be doc

umented with a link to the workpiece. Alongside these technical requirements, there is the need for high flexibility in terms of type diversity as well as a long and functionally reliable service life—all at the lowest possible purchase price. The advent of electric mobility means that the deck is being reshuffled.


PM: Electric mobility generally results in a substantially lower number of parts. Whereas combustion engines can consist of 1,200 to 2,500 individual parts, electric drives frequently require roughly a mere 10 percent of this number.

Camshafts are a good example of this change. In recent years, they were developed from forged or turned components into what are called “assembled shafts”. With electric mobility, the shaft is retained as part of the rotor—without the cams but with other ultra-high-precision features that must be tested and evaluated. Even our most frequently delivered machines—brake disc measuring machines—must cater to changing requirements. As a consequence of the development of these components, we are confronted with innovative material combinations, coatings, or evaluation features, for which we have already delivered customer-specific solutions to expand our modular machine concepts.

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Doosan Machine Tools Launches DBM 2030/3050 Series Machining Equipment

Doosan Machine Tools Launches DBM 2030/3050 series Machining Equipment

Doosan Machine Tools Co., Ltd will release more DMB Series line-ups, a double column of 2,000mm and 3,000 effective width, which consists of the multi-purpose double column machining center that is suitable for machining both large size workpieces and moulds. DBM Series supports various workpiece shapes and demonstrates a wide range of machining performance and high-precision mould machining, by applying the maximum specification in its class. This Series also maximises convenience in using the double column machining center for 5-sided machining, by applying convenient machining functions.

Supporting Various Shapes and Wide Range of Machining Performance

DBM Series is a specialised machining equipment for machining large size workpieces that offers a wide range of machining areas (effective column width – 2000mm, 2500mm, 3000mm, passage height- 1300mm, table length – 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, and 8000mm), and can load a workpiece up to 35,000Kg. DBM Series guarantees machining precision that does not change easily even under machining loads for a long time. In addition, DBM Series can machine the mold and five sides, as well as various complex shapes such as freeform slope machining by one degree minimum split, by applying the auto-replaceable attachment that is differentiated for each machining characteristic. DBM Series also contributes to user’s productivity improvement because the head attachment replacement time can be minimised by installing two types of head attachment (dummy and 90 degree angle) by applying the automatic attachment changer (AAC) as a standard.

High Precision/High Speed Mould Machining Performance

The DBM Series structure minimises the impact of vibration even under heavy-duty cutting machining loads in the horizontal and vertical directions that occur while machining all five sides, as well as a M-type casting structure to maintain machining precision. The DBM Series also supports stable and precise machining for an extended period of time by minimising heat displacement by applying spindle and structure thermal displacement. This product can maintain heavy-duty cutting performance under any machining loads in the horizontal direction by applying a ram spindle with a maximum output of 55kW that can perform strong heavy-duty cutting, high stiffness quadrilateral box guideway that is stable against thermal strain, and ram cross-sectional area of 380 x 380 mm that is largest in its class. In addition, a more effective high-precision, high-speed contour control can be performed by setting the machining conditions by selecting the DSQI/II/III function.

Improved Operation Convenience and 5-sided Machining Support Program

Considering the screen layout of ergonomic usability, such as feed axis setting and magazine tool setting, improved convenience of operation is established. The DBM Series supports 5-sided machining of the large size workpiece in an easier and more efficient way, by using the 5-sided machining support system that is convenient for machining large size workpieces (packaged function that is available when selecting a 5-sided machining head attachment option), easy pattern cycle, variable control of workpiece load, AFC function, and machining monitoring function.

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Flexible Manufacturing System Enables 15% Reduction In Running Time

Flexible Manufacturing System Enables 15% Reduction in Running Time

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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The Heller DNA In Five Axes

The Heller DNA in Five Axes

Here’s how 5-axis machines are providing manufacturers the necessary flexibility that is indispensable to customers today. Article by Heller.

The manufacturing industry has continually grappled with the notion of creating products faster, better and cheaper. But the advancement of manufacturing technologies come with its own set of challenges that manufacturers have to deal with in their quest towards more-efficient and cost-effective manufacturing of high-quality products.

For example, the aerospace manufacturing industry has to continually evolve to ensure cost and weight savings, while dealing with the use of fibre composites and difficult materials, including titanium alloys or Inconel. The developments in aerospace designs are resulting to aero-engine parts with the highest demands on dimensional, shape and position tolerances.

READ: Heller Discusses Advantages of HMCs

In the automotive manufacturing industry, chief among the challenges now are the increasingly shorter innovation cycles, growing model diversity, and intense cost pressure. Automotive and parts manufacturers dealing with systems such as small, two-cylinder engines to the V12; from the light-duty passenger cars to heavy duty trucks; all the way to components for powertrains, drivelines and chassis; and engine blocks, cylinder heads, transmission housings, crankshafts, camshafts, etc.—are struggling to ensure minimal part costs, reduce idle times, maximize productivity and flexibility of their manufacturing systems, and maintain high machine availability and reliability.

Meanwhile, flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to manufacturing parts for the energy industry, where small batch sizes, high part diversity, and manufacturing on demand are the norm. Manufacturers catering to this sector need to have a high degree of standardisation, increased efficiency, high precision, high availability, and shorter setting times when it comes to their machines.

Scalability, Efficiency and Easy Integration

Now more than ever, machine tools should empower users with scalability and efficiency, and enable easy integration into flexible manufacturing systems. Sturdy machine engineering, profound process experience, comprehensive milling expertise—these are the basic characteristics of Heller machine tools. Since the 1980s, the company has expanded its machine portfolio of proven 4-axis machining centres with 5-axis machines. Despite their varied and versatile applications, all machines share the typical Heller genes of quality, productivity and reliability in day-to-day production.

With the introduction of the F series in 2009, Heller opened a new chapter in terms of the process-secure 5-sided and simultaneous 5-axis machining. The fifth axis of the F series is provided by the tool and the machines can either be equipped with swivel-head or fork-head kinematics. The series has been designed especially with those users in mind who need to accomplish a wide range of tasks on a single machine.

READ: Heller HF Series 5-Axis Machining Centres

Meanwhile, the premise with the C series of machining centres is combined processing, since these machines do not only provide powerful milling but also turning capabilities. This machine provides economically efficient cutting data with workpiece rotations of up to 1,000 RPM for performance-oriented pre-machining and finishing true to the final contour. The swivel head or fork head and the high-speed rotary table enable hassle-free horizontal and vertical turning operations of outer and inner contours.

The modular MC 20 machining centres are ideally suited for integration into flexible manufacturing systems and for highly productive series production of light-duty automotive components, and are also available with direct loading. In standard design, they feature four axes, but they can also be equipped with a fifth axis provided by the workpiece as an option. The compact machines in modular design are scalable and can be linked to an automated manufacturing system at any time.

Logical Expansion

The latest machine development, the HF series, is the logical expansion of Heller’s product portfolio in the 5-axis range of machines. These highly productive and flexibly applicable machines provide great ease of use and are available with pallet changer or in table design. Contrary to the C and F series, the fifth axis of the HF series is provided by the workpiece. Rigidity is guaranteed due to the robust cast machine bed combined with a weight-optimised steel machine column.

READ: The Perfect Combination for Structural Parts—Faster, Better, Lower Cutting Forces

At the core of the dynamic drive concept are the ball-screw driven linear axes equipped with anti-friction guideways. The NC swivel rotary table equipped with two direct driven rotary axes maintains its rigidity even under high loads due to a counter bearing combined with a YRT bearing. In short, the HF is optimally equipped for the exacting requirements of modern production processes and therefore the ideal machining centre for the manufacture of complex components.

In addition to the specific light-duty applications of the 4-axis and 5-axis machining centres and the possibility of integrating them into flexible manufacturing systems, the three series—F, C and HF—can be combined with workpiece or pallet automation without any problem, offering a wide range of options in terms of workpiece and tool management. As a result, all Heller 5-axis machining centres can be perfectly integrated into any specific manufacturing environment, thus offering the necessary flexibility that is indispensable to customers today.


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3 Ways Advanced Machining Builds A Competitive Edge In Aerospace

3 Ways Advanced Machining Builds a Competitive Edge in Aerospace

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.

READ: Machining for the Aerospace Industry

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.

  1. 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.

READ: EDM: Past, Present and Future

Speeding-up Material Removal Rates

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.

READ: How Digitalisation Is Transforming The Aerospace Sector

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.

  1. 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.

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Smarter Approaches to Efficiency

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.

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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.

  1. 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.

READ: Makino Strengthens Presence In Vietnam With New Technology Centre

Minimising the Learning Curve

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.


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Top 10 Metal Cutting Articles For 2019

Top 10 Metal Cutting Articles for 2019

As we move into 2020, we take a look back at the most popular metal cutting articles for 2019. For your enjoyment, here is the list of the top 10 most read metal cutting articles over the past year.

  1. Increasing Automation, Connectivity And Energy Efficiency In Metal Cutting
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  4. Efficient Machine Tooling
  5. Getting Ahead in the Medical Market
  6. Market Outlook 2019: An Insight Into This Year’s Industry Megatrends
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  8. A Look at Walter’s Two-in-One Machining Concept
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Heller Discusses Advantages Of HMCs

Heller Discusses Advantages of HMCs

Andrew Parkin, chief representative for Asia at Heller, talks about Heller’s activities in Asia, horizontal machining centres (HMCs), and trends shaping the metalworking industry. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Andrew Parkin

At the recent EMO Hannover 2019 exhibition in Germany, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News sat down with Andrew Parkin, chief representative for Asia at Heller, to talk about Heller’s activities in Asia and their growth drivers. He also discussed horizontal machining centres (HMCs), and why the company focuses on this segment.

Tell us more about Heller in Asia and your role in the company.

Andrew Parkin (AP): Heller is a traditional German machine tool builder. We have been building machines for 125 years now; so, we are celebrating our anniversary this year. Right now, our focus is in four- and five-axis horizontal milling and milling/turning machining centres, and we have a global footprint to support this.

I have been in the company for 11 years. I left the UK in 1984, so I’ve lived in Asia now for more than 30 years. I was brought in to manage all of the operations Heller has in Asia. I am responsible for the four companies we have in China, the company we have in Singapore, in Thailand, and in Pune, India.

What opportunities and trends are you seeing in southeast Asia?

AP: Southeast Asia is a very important region for us. Based on potential, all of the ASEAN region together represent a very high consumption percentage of the global total. The difficulties, of course, are the different cultures and the different markets—you got a Thai culture, a Malaysian culture, an Indonesian culture, a Singaporean culture—these have to be managed carefully. We manage this from two operations: we have an operation in Singapore—which is our headquarters in Southeast Asia—and we have an operation in Thailand, focusing on the Thai automotive and aerospace sectors.

Apart from culture, what other challenges do you experience in southeast Asia?

AP: The challenges are varying. A lot of our customers have a Japanese background, for example, and we are very German. A lot of our customers have different manufacturing methods; a lot of customers have different relationships; and a few are challenged with financial goals. There’s always the difficulty of fluctuating currencies in the region. On top of that, language is often a barrier when it comes to explaining things and doing service jobs—so, it is not so easy. But it is a very rewarding market.

Are there particular industries in the region that are driving growth for Heller?

AP: We have been driven by various industries; but at present, the big drivers are automotive, general mechanical engineering and aerospace, where Heller has a lot of advantages due to the stability of the machines. If you are machining difficult materials such as Inconel-based materials or titanium-based materials, you need a very strong and rigid machine in order to reduce vibration. Vibration takes the edge of the cutting tool—that’s the only interface to the workpiece and the cutting tool—and tool life shortening means a longer cycle time. In some of the components we are machining, we have more than 50 hours machining time. If you save 10 percent of that, that’s a lot of time.


How do you help your customers on their smarter manufacturing journey?

AP: Some customers would like to have it all straightaway from the beginning; while the others like the most cost-effective solution, and then they add a lot of these processes to the system as it is going on. That’s one of the advantages of dealing with Heller: we are predominantly a technical and engineering based company who work together with customers in steps and stages for the whole duration of the machine tool’s life. So, we have some customers who have 20-year-old machines who we still service and modify for them. This is part of our core business.

Earlier on, you mentioned that the company focuses only on horizontal machining products. why is this so?

AP: Horizontal machining offers you more stability and accuracy. When you have more stability, you have a higher metal removal rate—that is the main difference between the vertical and horizontal option. We don’t manufacture vertical machines; we manufacture five-axis machines where you can move the head into the vertical machining position, but that’s basically a horizontal machine with a five axis. By the way, we have also 5-axis machining centres with the fifth axis in the workpiece and a horizontal spindle completing our comprehensive product range.

What’s your outlook for next year?

AP: There has been a downturn this year; there are political uncertainties in the market now, which are making people invest in a more cautious manner. There are also disruptive elements in the market. Electromobility is going to change the way we drive a lot, and we have to keep our eye on this.

At Heller, we are not seeing such a pronounced downturn because we do have a lot of manufacturing solutions for so many different industry segments, so we are doing a lot of modification work, and we do a lot more redeployment work—redeployment is where we take all the machines and put them on the new products. All in all, we are still very busy.

Where the market goes, I expect a rebound in the second or third quarter next year.

Are there any new applications that you see emerging soon?

AP: There are new applications emerging and there are also new materials emerging. And one of the trends is that everybody wants to machine these materials in a lights-off environment. That means many more of our customers are forcing us towards automation, and machinery and equipment that almost run itself. Heller is completely open as far as the three main groups of automation—overhead loading, pallet automation and flexible robot cells—are concerned when it comes to enhancing productivity, availability and economic efficiency.

This means as well we need to be a lot cleverer with software interfaces to the machine, because there’s nobody monitoring the machine anymore. If the machine has a problem, we have to know this. We have packages for Industry 4.0, we call it Heller4Industry. Within this, we have modules for preventive maintenance, for machine monitoring, and for production optimisation; all of these things are being used at the moment and pushing us in this direction.

Is the umati standard something you are looking at?

AP: As a core partner of umati, the universal machine interface developed on the initiative of VDW, HELLER has the finger on the pulse of the industry as far as digitisation is concerned. We like to adopt an active role in the design to promote our idea of a universal compatibility of different machines, units and software.

Do you have any final comments?

AP: I would just like to say it is an interesting time we are in. We believe quality is selling. The industry sector we are involved in is becoming more complicated because the standards are becoming much tighter, the tolerance is becoming much lower, and the materials are becoming much tougher to machine—therefore, I see a bright future for companies like Heller.


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The Perfect Combination For  Structural Parts—Faster, Better, Lower Cutting Forces

The Perfect Combination for Structural Parts—Faster, Better, Lower Cutting Forces

The optimum machine tool combined with the optimum tool results in a perfect combination. And that makes cost-effective processes and impressive machining results possible. Article contributed by MAPAL.


Figure 1: Dietmar Maichel (left), project manager 3D milling at MAPAL, and Steffen Nüssle, sales director export and head of applications engineering at Zimmermann, in front of the FZH horizontal machining center (HMC).

The optimum machine tool combined with the optimum tool results in a perfect combination. And that makes cost-effective processes and impressive machining results possible. One good example of this is the cooperation between machine manufacturer F. Zimmermann GmbH and MAPAL.

F. Zimmermann developed its first horizontal machining centre (HMC) especially for the machining of structural parts for the aerospace industry. The aluminium structural parts, such as wing parts and frame ribs, are generally milled from solid material—with up to 95 percent material removal.

Fault-free machining with respect to dimensional accuracy and surface finish is crucial here. And the component structure that becomes more and more delicate with increasing material removal represents an additional challenge.

In order to make the milling process as efficient as possible even in these areas, Zimmermann has developed the FZH machining centre that offers maximum rigidity and features a robust, water-cooled travelling column. Whereas conventional machine concepts suffer from lever-related deviations with increasing slide, the guide carriage distance of the FZH increases with increasing plunging depth into the material.

In order to achieve maximum efficiency, Zimmermann employs its own patented M3ABC three-axis milling head in the machining centre, especially in the pocket corners of a workpiece. This milling head has to perform only very small swivel movements, allowing the feed rate to be kept constant and hence, the machining time to be significantly shortened.

The Beginning

At an open house in June 2017, Zimmermann demonstrated its machining centre with tools from competitors. These tools failed to meet the expectations, however, and were unable to exploit the performance of the machine.

“Why not test the performance of the MAPAL tools?” thought the project managers at Zimmermann, as MAPAL was presenting its milling cutters for high-volume machining at the event. A short time later, representatives of the two companies carried out extensive milling trials with different tools together.

Figure 2: MAPAL tools used at Zimmermann (from left to right): SPM-Rough ISO shoulder milling cutter with indexable inserts as roughing solution for diametre ranges above 25mm; SPM-Rough solid carbide milling cutter with wave profile as roughing solution for diametre ranges up to 25mm; OptiMill-SPM solid carbide milling cutter for multi-stepped semi-finishing of thin-walled structures; and SPM-Finish solid carbide milling cutter for finishing of deep pockets and delicate structures in a single pass.

The Milling Cutters

“Our goal was to choose the optimum tools from our portfolio for the machining operations on the Zimmermann machine,” explains Dietmar Maichel, project manager 3D milling at MAPAL. The tool manufacturer’s portfolio contains different milling cutters for the different tasks during the high-volume machining of aluminium structural parts. The tools are perfectly designed for use on such high-performance machines as the Zimmermann machine.

In particular, the SPM milling cutters, which are available in a solid carbide design and with PCD and ISO inserts, are being used today—a total of four tools, to be exact—at Zimmermann for the different demands of the roughing and finishing operations.

The Interaction

“The perfect combination of the machine, the three-axis milling head and the tools from MAPAL give the user a real performance boost,” says Steffen Nüssle, sales director export and head of applications engineering at Zimmermann, immediately after the first tests. “With the SPM-Rough ISO shoulder milling cutter, we achieved the best results that we have ever achieved with a tool with indexable inserts.”

The ISO tools with polished indexable inserts are the latest addition to the MAPAL SPM product range. The SPM-Rough with wave profile also surpassed the expectations for material removal with excellent smooth running.

“The complete machining of a 190x190x40 mm pocket is now effectively possible in less than a minute,” explains Nüssle.

The Present

The experts at F. Zimmermann are convinced by the MAPAL tools. “The use of the SPM milling cutters has given us a quantum leap forward in the aluminium machining. And it shows us what the perfect combination of tool and machine means in terms of performance,” says Nüssle. The tools are the first choice when it comes to machine acceptance tests or demonstrations for customers from the aerospace industry at Zimmermann.

The Future

The Zimmermann machines are suitable not only for the machining of metals. “Many of our customers manufacture parts of composite materials,” says Nüssle.

Zimmermann, therefore, also wants to mill trial parts of these materials using MAPAL tools.

“We are optimistic that with the MAPAL milling cutters for composite machining, we will also find a new secret weapon to exploit the performance of our machines even better,” says Nüssle. The corresponding plans are already in hand.



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Mazak Variaxis i-300 Simultaneous Five-Axis Machining Centre

Mazak Variaxis i-300 Simultaneous Five-Axis Machining Centre

Mazak’s Variaxis i-300 simultaneous five-axis vertical machining centre (VMC) includes a high-capacity auto work changer for flexibility and efficiency. Designed for automated small- to medium-size part-processing operations, the VMC is suited for machining aluminium and other nonferrous metals for various industries, including aerospace, medical and automotive.

The machine comes with a multiple-drum tool storage system that holds as many as 145 tools, enabling continuous unattended operation and single-setup—Done-in-One processing. It is loaded with a 12,000-rpm spindle allowing speeds as fast as 30,000 rpm, complemented with the MX hybrid roller guide system to ease the machine’s use and increase precision.

Available software solutions include the Smooth Energy Dashboard to help shops meet sustainability goals and Smooth Thermal Shield to calibrate temperature.



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Heller HF Series 5-Axis Machining Centres

Heller HF Series 5-Axis Machining Centres

Heller’s HF Series 5-axis machining centres comprise the HF 3500 and HF 5500 models. The main target groups for this new machine concept are the automotive industry, its suppliers and the general machine-building industry.

The machining centres from the new series feature a fifth axis provided by the workpiece, and have been designed for dynamic 5-sided as well as simultaneous 5-axis machining. The horizontal spindle, for example, enables fast tool changes.

Our solution competence comprises a wide range of parts and materials machined under the most diverse conditions – watch our video about the machining of aluminium.

The model HF 3500 allows a maximum permissible workpiece weight of 550 kg, while the model HF 5500 enables a workpiece weight of 750 kg.



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