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The Atmosphere’s Electric

The Atmosphere’s Electric

Formula Student allows ambitious students to gain intensive practical experience in the design, production and commercial aspects of automotive engineering—from every angle and well away from the confines of a lecture theatre. Article by Paul Horn GmbH.

Zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in less than four seconds, an engine power of 160 kW and real team spirit—that sums up life for the Raceyard Formula Student Team from Kiel University of Applied Sciences. They are entering the “E” category of the competition with an electric racing car that they have developed and built themselves. 

To assist with the production of the car’s parts, Paul Horn GmbH is giving the Kiel students advice on tools for turning and milling.

“We really appreciate the company’s machining expertise. Thomas Wassersleben is our contact person at HORN and thanks to him we always receive good advice and rapid support,” explains Lukas Schlott. Lukas is the member of the Raceyard Team with responsibility for marketing and event management.

The collaboration with the Institute for Computer Integrated Manufacturing – Technology Transfer (CIMTT) has actually been running for several years. Wassersleben advises the Institute’s mechanical workshops on machining solutions and tools. He was also the HORN sales representative that received the initial enquiry from the 2017/2018 Raceyard Team and passed it on. HORN responded to this enquiry by offering a set of tools that included the Supermini 105, the S100 grooving and parting-off system, and some Boehlerit ISO inserts and DS aluminium milling cutters.

“This set of tools enabled our mechanics department to solve tricky machining tasks by overcoming the access difficulties created by the long throat depths and narrow bores,” recalls Schlott.

A new race car is created for each season of the Formula Student competition. Just like the car itself, the make-up of the team also changes, as some members inevitably come to the end of their studies. This means that each new team has to develop, produce, assemble and test its own race car. However, the experience accumulated over previous seasons is also fed into the latest development work. The 2017/2018 Raceyard Team has 50 members assigned to four main areas: Sponsorship and Finance, Mechanics, Electrics, and Marketing & Event Management.  

Self-developed and Self-produced

The students developed and produced the entire race car themselves, apart from a few components. For the brake callipers, the Kiel students opted for SLM (selective laser melting) technology. Using this additive manufacturing process, they were able to print the brake callipers from an aluminium alloy powder made to their very own design specifications. And when it came to finish boring the brake piston cylinder surface, the responsible mechanics decided on the HORN Supermini 105 system.

“Due to the calliper’s three-dimensional shape and the very tight cylinder tolerances, the production process was a real challenge for our mechanics,” says Schlott.

The aluminium axle leg was machined using a triple-flute solid carbide end mill from the DS system with polished chip spaces. The difficulty with this component was the long throat depth required for the tool. In addition, the component geometry meant that the engineers went for the extra-long milling tool.

“Thanks to the polished chip spaces and the geometry of the milling cutter, we don’t experience any problems during machining in terms of chips adhering and chatter marks,” says Wassersleben.

CFRP Monocoque Design

The racing car has a CFRP monocoque chassis. The students decided on the same carbon fibre material for the aerodynamic components and other parts such as the steering linkage. For the purpose of producing the moulds and laminating the parts, the team had access to the machinery and expertise of another sponsor.

“It was certainly a challenge to laminate the individual CFRP layers because the fibres in each layer had to be arranged in particular directions to ensure the subsequent rigidity of the chassis and other assemblies,” clarifies Schlott. In order to calculate the aerodynamics as well as the rigidity of the chassis and other components, the students made use of the powerful computers available at the Kiel CIMTT institute. 

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Special Tools For Difficult Recesses

Special Tools For Difficult Recesses

While machining of titanium alloys no longer poses any major challenges for experienced machinists—when machining operations are straightforward—intricate sensor component designs made from titanium call for an appropriate tool design and an intelligent machining strategy. Article by Paul Horn GmbH.

“We have been relying on tools from Paul Horn GmbH for more than  30 years. The solution to our latest problem has once again reminded us of why,” explains Roland Burghart, who is in charge of turning at the Donaueschingen plant of Sick Stegmann GmbH. The problem related to the creation of axial recesses in intricate sensor components made from titanium.

Horn solved the task through a combination of measures, which included various special versions of its Mini system. Working in conjunction with Horn technical consultant Karl Schonhardt, the Horn designers devised a cut distribution for the difficult machining task.

The workpieces are installed inside highly sensitive gas flow measurement sensors. At the heart of these measuring units lie the oscillating transducers. The sensors are used, for example, in gas pipelines, for measuring flare gas, for vapour flow measurement, as well as in biogas plants. Sensor technology from Sick is intended to protect people from accidents, avoid damage to the environment, and supply accurate data. For this reason, the company demands a high standard of quality from its products. This starts with the individual parts and components. Tight tolerances, high surface quality, and difficult to machine materials are all part of everyday life for the Sick employees working in the area of CNC manufacturing. 

To ensure high corrosion resistance, the engineers from Sick selected the titanium alloy Ti 6Al-4V (Grade 5) for the transducers. This alloy accounts for approximately 50 percent of worldwide demand for titanium. And that is because it offers a good balance between high strength and low density. The mechanical properties of this alloy are superior to those of pure titanium. One of the problems it poses during machining is that it has a tendency to work harden. When the friction becomes excessive due to the feed rate of the cutting edge being too low, work hardening of the material is induced. This shortens the life of the tools dramatically. When turning and milling titanium, it is vital to have sharp cutting edges, the right cutting parameters, and the appropriate tool coating in order for the machining of this material to be productive.

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Horn: When A Millimetre-Sized Component Is Already Considered Large

Horn: When a Millimetre-Sized Component is Already Considered Large

Making a Swiss watch requires micrometre-level of precision. Here’s how Paul Horn GmbH is helping Laubscher Präzision AG in its micro-machining work. 

Fig 1: Heavy metal tool holders provide excellent vibration damping. (Source: Horn/Sauermann)

“That’s large by our standards,” says Marco Schneider, department head at Laubscher Präzision AG, as he measures the screw under a microscope. What he is examining actually has a thread size of S 0.6 (a type found in Swiss watches), a thread length of just 0.55 mm and a head diameter of 1.2 mm. This is the kind of component that Laubscher Präzision AG, based in the Swiss town of Täuffelen, is used to handling in its micro-machining work, where it uses tools supplied by Paul Horn GmbH.

Horn developed the µ-Finish tool system to cope with even the smallest of parts: with its outstanding cutting quality, changeovers that achieve precision down to the micrometre level, and low-vibration tool carriers, it is an exceptional piece of equipment.

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There are several assemblies that go into the making of a Swiss watch, depending on the exact movement involved—the cogs, winding mechanism, drive mechanism, balance wheel, and motion work are some examples of these. Creating complex movements involves assembling numerous components in the tiniest of spaces, with screws holding everything together. A normal machinist would find producing these screws a hard nut to crack.

And despite their small dimensions, they still need to be synchronously transferred from the main spindle to a collet chuck in the counter spindle when it is time to machine the other side. Rather than callipers or an outside micrometer, it is a microscope with 50x magnification that is used to check the dimensions of these parts. 

Laubscher Präzision relies on the Horn µ-Finish system to produce screws with a thread size of S 0.6 and a thread length of 0.55 mm. It manufactures some 30,000 screws solely of this type every year. Factoring in the many other types that also come off its production line, that adds up to several million screws that Laubscher supplies to the watchmaking industry annually. 

Sharp Tools, Minimum Vibrations

Fig 2: A microscope is used to check the dimensions of medical technology components. (Source: Horn/Sauermann)

The material used to produce the screws is free-cutting steel in the form of 3 mm diameter bar stock. The process sequence is as follows: facing of the screw head, longitudinal turning of the screw head diameter and of the diameter for the thread, thread cutting and parting off. The µ-Finish tools have a role to play at every stage.

“When you’re precision-machining miniature parts, it’s vital that the tools are extremely sharp and the tool holders produce hardly any vibrations,” explains Alain Kiener, Production Manager at Laubscher. The edge chipping and cutting performance that can be achieved are also essential to the micro-machining process, as any irregularity on the cutting edge will ultimately be reflected on the workpiece.

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The Swiss company also specialises in producing micro components for medical technology—where the µ-Finish system once again comes into play, this time in the manufacture of venous plugs. Used for closing off vessels in electromedical applications, these components are pushed through a vein up to the heart via the groin in a minimally invasive surgical procedure. Their front section is then snapped off at the predetermined breaking point, closing off the vessel. 

Boosting Tool Life to 1,000 Recesses

Fig 3: A partnership spanning 25 years: Alain Kiener (Laubscher) in discussion with Phillip Dahlhaus (Horn), Marco Schneider (Laubscher) and Christoph Schlaginhaufen (Dihawag). (Source: Horn/Sauermann)

Every year, Laubscher is able to produce between 100,000 and 200,000 of these components, which are made of X5CrNi18-10 (1.4301). The predetermined breaking point has a diameter of 0.1 mm.

“At first, we ground the tool to create the predetermined breaking point profile ourselves. As the cutting quality of the Horn equipment is so good, however, we’ve managed to increase tool life to 1,000 recesses per insert,” says Schneider. When creating recesses up to a diameter of 0.1 mm in solid material, a sharp cutting edge and a vibration-damped tool holder are indispensable.

READ: Boehlerit Expands 3D Milling System

“Our tool system for micro-machining is also available with heavy metal tool holders, keeping vibrations to a minimum during machining,” says Horn application engineer Phillip Dahlhaus. “In medical technology, a very high surface quality is required. That’s because even tiny irregularities on the component, like grooves and burrs, can be a breeding ground for bacteria.”

The µ-Finish tool system is primarily aimed at micro-machining operators. Based on the S274 system, it features inserts that have been ground with outstanding precision. Every tool undergoes a comprehensive round of inspections during the production process to ensure that its cutting edges deliver these excellent standards of quality. Together with the central clamping screw and the precision-ground circumference of the indexable insert, the tool holder insert seat helps the system to achieve indexability to within microns. This in turn allows the insert to be indexed in the machine without the need to re-measure the centre height or any other dimensions.

In addition to its extensive range of standard profiles, Horn offers custom-made inserts with special designs. “Horn provides high-end tools for a wide range of applications, and solutions for everything from watchmaking screws and medical parts to hydraulic components. We use Horn tools on our Swiss-type lathe, our multi-spindle lathe, and almost everything in between,” says Kiener.

Horn itself is a German tool manufacturer and is represented in Switzerland by the company Dihawag. This partnership between Laubscher, Horn and Dihawag has been in existence for some 25 years, during which time Horn has successfully supplied tools for numerous machining solutions.

“It’s a fantastic partnership. Dihawag and Horn’s representatives are quick to respond to anything relating to our machining tasks, and we know that we can rely on them. We all work together extremely well and it’s amazing how quickly the tools are delivered,” says Kiener.


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