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Freedom To Measure With Volvo

Freedom To Measure With Volvo

An automotive production plant for Volvo has boosted its productivity and efficiency with advanced measurement systems. Article by Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.  

With some 2400 employees, Volvo Car Body Components (VCBC) in Olofström is an automotive production plant that produces millions of car body parts every year. From hoods and roofs to doors and subassemblies, the facility is dedicated to pressing sheet metal into vital car components that are shipped whole or partially assembled to Volvo car factories around the world for final assembly and finishing.

The earliest production stages of the car design process at Volvo rely heavily on the development of the sheet metal stamping tools designed and manufactured by the Tool and Die team at Olofström. The team is first responsible for producing tool prototypes, and with up with up to 80 tools needed for a vehicle project this can be a four-to-five-month task. Each project typically runs for a year, and the remainder of the time is dedicated to producing the final tooling that will be used to press hundreds of thousands of car body components.

In 2018, the team decided it was time to introduce a modern metrology solution to their tool prototyping and production with the goal of improving productivity. They identified several key steps in their design, production and validation process that could potentially benefit from the introduction of advanced measurement devices. Having a large and well-equipped quality room already in place, the team was already familiar with a wide range of metrology hardware. One of their key considerations was identifying a solution that would be as at home on the shop floor as it was in the quality room.

Improving the Initial Casting

The first step in producing a designed prototype or final tool is the precision milling of a casted block of raw material. Casting is not a precise process, and the casted part is typically delivered with a lot of excess raw material that must be subsequently milled down to the correct size and shape.

A key step in setting up a casted part for milling is ensuring there is no collision between the milling machine and part as they are both moved into position. Such a collision can result in expensive and time-consuming damage to the CNC milling machine. Therefore, the operator must introduce a safety factor when setting things up – positioning the machine far enough away from the material that they are sure no collision will occur. Doing this by eye is not easy, and often means that the milling machine spends a significant amount of time at the beginning of its program milling nothing.

“When you can optimise the milling program to the actual size of the material, that’s the big time saving, because it doesn’t matter if the machine goes through the air or through the material, it’s the same speed,” said Kim Tingstedt, Tool and Die Operator at VCBC Olofström.

This optimisation was already being performed, but with the comprehensive data provided by a scanner, things could be much easier. This casting scan data can be used in other ways to improve production. Tool castings are extremely heavy and difficult to move, so any possibility to make them lighter improves their usability and reduces the amount of raw material required to make them. This means they have to be as small as possible – but not too small; if not enough material is left between the outside of the tool and the inside of its precision mould, it won’t be strong enough to withstand repeated high-power stamping.

Using scan data taken after casting, the casting of subsequent prototypes and final tools can be refined to ensure the minimum weight and raw material usage is achieved without diminishing the structural integrity of the tool. This also has the benefit of allowing the milling machine to begin its work closer to the final part shape with each iteration, compounding the time savings at every step.

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The Essential Guide To CNC Milling Machines

The Essential Guide To CNC Milling Machines

For those who may be a new entrant to the industry and would need a refresher, this article explains CNC Milling Machines, how they work, how they compare to CNC Lathes, and when to use such CNC machine tools. Article by Hwacheon. 

Focused on milling – the process of machining using rotating tools to gradually remove material from a workpiece – CNC milling machines are a mainstay for factories around the world. These machine tools make use of a variety of cutting tools along one or more axes to remove material from a workpiece through mechanical means.

CNC milling machines are often used in a variety of manufacturing industries: from industries like aerospace, shipping, automobiles, and oil drilling/pumping and refining, to medical, FMC manufacturing, and precision engineering sectors.

Also called CNC Machining Centers, the more advanced CNC milling machines can operate along multiple-axis. These may be fitted with automatic tool changers, advanced machine coolant systems, pallet changers, and advanced software to improve the efficiency and accuracy of machining processes.

In this article, we will be looking at the many different aspects of a CNC milling machine/machining center.

What CNC Milling Machines Are

CNC milling machines are machine-operated cutting tools that are programmed and managed by computer numerical control (CNC) systems to accurately remove materials from a workpiece. The end result of the machining process is a specific part or product that is created using a computer aided design (CAD) software.

These machine tools are normally equipped with a main spindle and three-linear-axes to position or move the part to be machined. More advanced versions may have a 4th or 5th rotational axis to allow for more precise shapes of varying dimensions and sizes to be machined.

CNC milling machines normally employ a process of material cutting termed milling or machining – the milling process involves securing a piece of pre-shaped material (also known as the workpiece) to a fixture attached to a platform in the milling machine. A rapidly rotating tool (or a series of interchangeable tools) is then applied to the material to remove small chips of the material until the desired shape for the part is achieved.

Depending on the material used for the part, as well as the complexity of the machined part, varying axes, cutting head speeds, and feed rates may be applied.

Milling is normally used to machine parts that are not symmetrical from an axial perspective. These parts may have unique curvatures or surface contours, which may require a combination of drilling and tapping, grooves, slots, recesses, pockets and holes to work on them. They may also form parts of the tooling for other manufacturing processes – for example in the fabrication of 3D moulds. 

Features of Advanced CNC Milling Machines

In the past, milling machines were manually operated. Operators had to use a combination of machines with different tools to machine a more complex part or product. Or they had to use various settings on one machine just to complete the job. 

With the advancement of technology such as CNC and automatic tool changers (ATCs), greater efficiency, flexibility and speed can be achieved – even for more convoluted parts. The provision of digital readouts and measuring systems has also improved the accuracy of CNC machining processes. 

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What Is Successful Milling?

What is Successful Milling?

Milling 101: What are the considerations when it comes to milling operations, and how can operators reduce vibration in milling? Read on. Article by Sandvik Coromant.

Milling has been evolved into a method that machines a very broad range of operations. In addition to all the conventional applications, milling is a strong alternative for producing holes, threads, cavities and surfaces that used to be turned, drilled or tapped.

There are different types of milling operations. They are: 

  • Shoulder milling
  • Face milling
  • Profile milling
  • Groove milling and parting off
  • Chamfer milling
  • Turn milling
  • Gear machining
  • Holes and cavities/ pocketing

The following are the initial considerations for milling operations:

  1. The milled configuration

The features to be milled have to be carefully considered. These can be located deep, requiring extended tooling, or contain interruptions and inclusions.

  1. The component

Workpiece surfaces can be demanding, with cast skin or forging scale. In cases of bad rigidity, caused by thin sections or weak clamping, dedicated tooling and strategies have to be used. The workpiece material and its machinability must also be analyzed to establish optimal cutting data.

  1. The machine

The choice of milling method will determine the type of machine needed. Face/shoulder or slot milling can be performed in 3-axis machines, while milling 3D profiles require alternatively 4- or 5-axis machines.

Turning centres today often have milling capability due to driven tools, and machining centres often have turning capability. CAM developments mean that 5-axis machines are increasingly common. They offer increased flexibility, but stability can be a limitation.

How to Reduce Vibration in Milling

Milling vibration can arise due to limitations in the cutting tool, the holding tool, the machine, the workpiece or the fixture. To reduce vibration, there are some strategies to consider.

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Horn Expands Gear Cutting Portfolio

Horn Expands Gear Cutting Portfolio

Paul Horn GmbH is expanding its range of gear cutting products. Horn’s new tool system for milling bevel gear teeth allows the complete machining of bevel gears on universal turn-mill centres. The system was created in cooperation with machine manufacturer INDEX and means that users no longer need any special machines to manufacture gears of this kind. It also allows all functional surfaces to be produced together with the gear teeth in one clamping. This enables high component precision, short lead-times, a very cost-efficient process and short machining times as a result of controlled machining cycles.

With a universal turn-mill centre from INDEX, components with bevel gear teeth can be efficiently and flexibly manufactured, including in small quantities. This also makes the process attractive to small and medium-sized companies that would previously have bought in gears or had them manufactured externally.

For the process, Horn relies on its S276 and S279 double-edged indexable inserts, which are screwed on tangentially. This makes it possible to achieve a stable insert seat, which is particularly important during form milling. The tool does not have to be remeasured after the inserts have been turned around or changed because the inserts are precision-ground on the circumference.

The milling body can be equipped to allow for different numbers of teeth and outer diameters when cutting gears. The process of developing the complete system (cycle, tool and clamping) called for a great deal of expertise on the part of both the machine manufacturer and the tool manufacturer. To implement the process, various types of INDEX machine with a “bevel gear hobbing” cycle are required. Horn offers the milling cutter bodies with the HSK-T40 and HSK-T63 interfaces. The profiles of the inserts are module-dependent and precision-ground.

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Barrel Cutter Shapes A New Milling Trend

Barrel Cutter Shapes a New Milling Trend

Advanced workpiece manufacturing technologies—such as metal injection moulding, 3D printing, investment casting and close-tolerance forging—innovative machine tools, and a quantum leap in digitizing of manufacturing will increase the needs for finishing complex surfaces with minimum machining stock. Article by Andrei Petrilin, ISCAR.

Endmills featuring a cutting edge that is actually the segment of a large-diameter arc were introduced approximately 25 years ago. As the cutting-edge shape of these endmills is reminiscent of a barrel profile, terms such as ‘barrel milling cutters’, ‘barrel endmills’ or, in shop talk, often simply ‘barrels’ soon became common when referring to these types of endmills.

At first, the use of these barrel-shape mills was limited more or less to a few specific applications, such as machining 3D surfaces of complex dies and turbomachinery components. However, advances in 5-axis machining and in CAM systems have significantly expanded the boundaries of barrel endmill applications.

At the same time, the design principle of a cutting edge as the segment of a large-diameter arc has been realized successfully in other types of milling cutter—the tools for high feed milling (HFM), also referred to as ‘fast feed’ (FF) milling. The concept provides a toroidal cutting geometry that ensures productive rough machining at extremely high feed rates due to a chip thinning effect. Unlike high feed milling tools, barrel endmills are intended not for roughing but for finish and semi-finish machining of 3D surfaces with low stock removal.

Traditionally, ball-nose and toroidal cutters perform these machining operations. However, the large-diameter arc of the endmill cutting edge results in a substantial reduction of the cusp height generated between passes machined by a ball-nose or toroidal cutter. Another advantage of this type of cutting edge versus ball-nose and toroidal cutters is a significant increase in the distance between passes (a stepover or a stepdown, depending on the direction of a cutter displacement after every pass)—at least five times more without degradation of the surface finish parameters! (Figure 1) This means that the number of passes and, subsequently, machining time can be noticeably reduced. Increasing the distance between passes also improves tool life and, therefore, diminishes tool cost per part.

The classical barrel shape in endmills has undergone some changes to make these cutters more versatile. Combining a ball-nose tip with peripheral large-arc cutting edges creates a multi-purpose ‘cutting oval,’ which facilitates the use of a barrel endmill as a ball-nose milling tool. 

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The Benefits Of Composites For Milling Tools And Spindles

The Benefits of Composites for Milling Tools and Spindles

In this article, Dr. Humphrey Carter of CompoTech explains why CFRP tools are a feasible option for machinery manufacturers.

Shaft displacement with temperature. (Credit: Professor Matsubara, Kyoto University.*)

The use of carbon fibre-reinforced plastics (CFRPs) is very widespread in motorsports and the aerospace industry. The exceptional stiffness and lightweight of these materials make them ideal for enhancing the performance of Formula 1 cars and high-speed jet aircraft.

Less widespread is the use of CFRPs for the production of machine tools. The same properties that make these materials so popular in high performance applications can impart significant benefits in this arena too, especially for load-bearing and structural components, or for precision movements.

In particular, the use of CFRP parts can help to improve the speed and acceleration and deceleration of a machine tool, especially over extended distances. The accuracy and repeatability with which, for example, a tool set can be returned to exactly the same location, operation after operation, can have a significant impact on productivity and, through a reduction in weight, operating life.

 

Steel-composite Hybrid Milling Tool

To highlight the benefits of the use of CFRPs in such applications, CompoTech recently developed a steel-composite hybrid milling tool that, in testing, has been shown to perform faster and machine more accurately than conventional options. The tool also imparts improved surface roughness meaning that, in certain circumstances, it can perform the job normally requiring two steel tool sets, for rough and final machining. This increases milling productivity, decreases machining time and reduces machining cost.

The hybrid milling tool is produced by depositing carbon and graphite fibre onto a steel part using a process called robot assisted filament laying (RAFL). The steel body acts both as a mandrel and as a means of connecting the tool to the tool holder and the tool holder to the spindle. It also provides a means for the attachment of the tool to the milling teeth.

After fibre placement, the part is cured at room temperature to reduce the likelihood of any thermally induced stress. It is later machined to its final shape.

The reduction in weight, up to 40 percent, and the increased stiffness provided by the use of graphite and carbon fibres enhances the damping properties. As well as increasing the natural frequency of the tool, reducing unwanted vibrations in the machining process, it gives the tool greater stability.

The low weight of the milling tool means that less energy is used in non-loaded positioning, while the lower inertia reduces peek energy in acceleration. Fortunately, this can also reduce wear on parts of the machine, meaning that the lifetime of the machine and the durability of the tool tip can be increased.

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An All-rounder In Metal Cutting

An All-rounder In Metal Cutting

Here’s how a 5-axis universal machine revolutionised the production processes at Polar-Form Werkzeugbau GmbH. Article by GROB.

G550 5-Axis universal machining centre at POLAR-FORM Werkzeugbau GmbH.

Permanent bottlenecks in the milling area and high time and cost pressures in production have, over the years, convinced POLAR-FORM Werkzeugbau GmbH to purchase a 5-axis universal machining centre with automation. An internal technical committee with all decision-makers and machine operators determined what the new machine was capable of or, better still, what existing problems it had to solve. This included issues such as deep hole drilling, milling, high payload weight, large additional tool magazine, large working memory, enormous data volume, limited space, pronounced reliability, and perfect automation.

After intensive market research, three machines were finally selected. The final decision was made in favour of a 5-axis universal machine from GROB, which is equipped with a circular pallet storage system and additional tool magazine.

“We never had any doubts about our decision, but what this machine can really do only gradually became clear to us,” says Polar-Form Production Manager Dietmar Klötzle.

Optimal Configuration – Perfect Training

The detailed work began once it was certain that a machine from GROB would be purchased. Despite the limited space available, the GROB layouts and installation plans enabled the perfect location to be found quickly. 

The training of the employees took place on-site at POLAR-FORM. Even in the initial phase, the trainees practiced on a range of parts that are actually produced at POLAR-FORM.

“The idea behind this was to have the machine demonstrated on POLAR-FORM parts and not just on any sample parts,” says Klötzle. Since the programming of the machine was also carried out on-site using a CAM program, all the employees concerned could be called in and thus were trained from the very beginning. This way, all of the basic settings were quickly covered via testing and the horizontal spindle concept of the new GROB machine could be illustrated very clearly.

Machine programming was also very simple, since it was possible to load the programs much more elegantly than before via the programming station, and this no longer had to be done directly at the machine. “It soon became apparent just how well the CAM system communicates with the G550 and Heidenhain control system,” recalls Michael Gür, team leader for rough cutting at POLAR-FORM. Now the cycles can be transferred one-to-one to the G550—a procedure that was not possible with the previous machines.

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Flexible Production Capacity

Flexible Production Capacity

With the right tools and state-of-the-art CAM software, toolmakers and mould makers can keep their production capacity flexible, and will be able to ramp it up by up to 85 percent once the economy picks up again. Article by Michael Knauer, Hoffmann Group.

Flexible Production Capacity

Parabolic Performance Cutting (PPC) with a larger effective radius achieves better surfaces in less time.

Toolmakers and mould makers are amongst the companies keeping a firm handle on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Many companies are asking themselves how they can weather the storm unscathed as far as possible and adapt their capacity quickly once the market improves. This has placed the spotlight on production methods such as ‘circle-segment milling’, also known as ‘Parabolic Performance Cutting (PPC)’ or ‘barrel milling’.

PPC tools enable the finishing work for a tool mould to be completed up to nine times faster or, alternatively, the surface quality to be improved up to 80-fold. For example, Koller Formenbau GmbH has used PPC milling cutters supplied by the Hoffmann Group to reduce the finish machining time for geometrically defined surfaces from 100 hours to 15 hours. The PPC method is also ideally suited to finish machining work on 3D-printed parts.

Reasonable Expense

On PPC tools, the main cutting edge on the milling cutters is curved. Compared against a classic ball-nosed slot drill where the effective radius is half the tool diameter, PPC tools have a much larger effective radius, up to 1,000 millimetres, thus permitting a significantly larger engagement length on the workpiece. However, their more complex geometry means they place higher demands on the CAM software. The software not only needs to offer the ‘circle-segment milling’ strategy, it must also have a tooling database which holds the exact geometries of the PPC tools. What’s more, since the tools are aligned obliquely to the workpiece, the method can only be employed in conjunction with a 5-axis milling machine. Not all 5 axes need to be in use here. Often, once the tool has been set up, the draft angles can also be finished with 1 to 2 axes clamped. It may also be possible for flat faces and freely accessible surfaces with no interfering contours to be machined on a 3-axis machine. In the past there were only a few software programs that offered the ‘circle-segment milling’ functionality. However, that is no longer the case. Koller Formenbau, for instance, already used a 5-axis machine and the Hypermill software, so they only needed the right tool. At reasonable expense, the company was able to boost productivity by up to 85 percent, thereby increasing its capacity without having to procure a new machine. 

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Tungaloy Adds Longer Flutes To Popular TungMeister Exchangeable-Head End Milling System

Tungaloy Adds Longer Flutes To Popular TungMeister Exchangeable-Head End Milling System

Tungaloy has announced that its TungMeister series of exchangeable-head end milling system now includes long-flute end milling heads and new high-rigidity shank holders.

With TungMeister, significant reduction in tool changeover time can be achieved through the ability to replace used heads instead of an entire tool. Since it takes no more than one minute for tool exchange, setup time can be significantly reduced to as short as one tenth of the time it would typically take to replace solid carbide end mills for maximum productivity and cost effectiveness.

Responding to market demands, TungMeister now offers a range of VEH-style square shoulder end milling heads whose maximum cutting depth (APMX) is twice the length of that of the existing range. This provides the new VEH head with a capability of 1.5xD. Its variable-pitch and variable-helix cutting edge design, combined with tapered core geometry, will enhance the tool’s chatter stability while machining at demanding depths of cut.
The new VSSD-style shank holder is offered with thicker shank diameters than those of the existing range, increasing the tool’s flexural rigidity by 200 percent to 320 percent for added more reliable and productive machining.

With over 13,000 possible head-shank combinations available, TungMeister is able to readily provide tooling flexibility that enables users to find a solution for almost every application.
Ten VEH-style end milling heads and five VSSD-style shank holders are added in this expansion.

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Copy Milling Cutter Brings Benefits Of Single-sided Round Inserts To Double-sided Models

Copy Milling Cutter Brings Benefits of Single-sided Round Inserts to Double-sided Models

When machining components made of materials with difficult cutting properties, such as turbine blades, drive parts or engine parts for the energy or aircraft and aerospace industries, round insert milling cutters are often the first choice. Until now, single-sided indexable inserts have primarily been used for this purpose. With the indexable insert size RNMX1005M0 for small depths of cut, Walter AG is bringing an extension for the M2471 copy milling cutter to the market – the first to feature a double-sided round insert with eight useable cutting edges.

The system for milling cutters with diameters of 25 mm or more with ScrewFit, parallel shank or bore adaption is suitable for machining steel, stainless steels and materials with difficult cutting properties. Indexing using the flank face of the indexable insert ensures simple, safe handling.

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The M2471 copy milling cutter brings all the benefits of single-sided round inserts to double-sided round inserts, particularly in terms of their positive cutting behaviour. To ensure that this does not negatively affect process reliability, the insert and body are designed so that their overall stability is guaranteed during use of all eight cutting edges.

The technical features, as well as the eight useable cutting edges, reduce cutting material costs by up to 20 percent. Walter offers the new indexable insert in geometries ‘G57 – The universal one’ and ‘K67 – The easy-cutting one’ for medium and good application conditions, respectively. The copy milling cutter is also available in Tiger·tec Silver PVD grades WSM35S and WSP45S.

 

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