Machines for aerostructures enhanced

Starrag UK has announced a host of improvements to its Ecospeed and Ecoforce machines – for aluminium and titanium aerostructure component machining respectively – to improve cutting performance in terms of both reduced cycle times and the consistent production of high-quality components.

The developments include: a more powerful spindle – 150 kW for the Ecospeeds – for even higher productivity; enhanced software routines such as optimised chatter control and adaptive jerk feed control on both Ecospeeds and Ecoforces; and new pallet options – on the Ecoforce Ti 9 and Ti 13 models – to accommodate ever-increasing workpieces sizes, particularly in structural aerospace components.

Starrag is also promoting cost benefits through the use of MQL as opposed to conventional flood coolant, with users obtaining at least three-fold savings, primarily through eliminating the need for coolant-related maintenance and recovery systems.

The use of MQL rather than conventional cutting fluid (on any machine in Starrag’s comprehensive range) is heavily promoted for aluminium machining, and it is suggested that if MQL is used at 100 ml/hour, 16 hours/day for six days a week and 50 weeks of a year, the total operating costs of €10,000 are far less than the €30,000 spent on conventional coolant. In addition, the difference in capital investment for the different systems is even greater.

The machines’ continual evolution is the result of constant investigations by Starrag’s expert product specialists and engineering teams into improvements that will enhance machine performance in the most cost-effective manner.

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MTC helps reshoring efforts

A Midlands supplier of commercial vehicle engineering and industrial hardware is reshoring component production from China with the help of experts from the Manufacturing Technology Centre.

Bloxwich-based Albert Jagger Engineering, which has been producing metal components for more than 70 years, has already reshored the production of almost 250,000 fastening components and in the process has, in some cases, reduced costs by up to 50%. The MTC worked with Albert Jagger to produce a new factory layout, introduce new CNC machines and automation, and re-train staff using VR and AR.

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Lantek increases its customer base

Lantek, a specialist in CADCAM, MES and ERP software – and an expert in the digital transformation of sheet metal and structural steel manufacturing – has added over 1100 new clients to its portfolio in the first half of 2020.

The growth is a new milestone for the company, reaching a total of 24,800 customers. Lantek says this increase is a remarkable achievement considering it happened in a period marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the strict measures taken by many countries in response. The regions with the greatest client growth in the first half of the year include China and Korea, followed by Europe.

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Tees invests £0.5m in new borer

Tees Components has invested £500,000 in a new CNC horizontal boring mill, a Hyundai Wia KBN 135CL from TW Ward CNC Machinery.

The machine will enable the company to double capacity of this type at its CNC machining facility in Skelton.

Used for CNC boring and milling, the technology is capable of machining extremely large parts to very small tolerances due to the extent of its axes (4 x 2 x 2 m) and rotary table-loading capability. The machine’s table accommodates 20 tonnes while the X axis is 4 m and the W axis is 700 mm, making it suitable for precision components needed by the defence, power, and oil and gas sectors. Even at this size, it is not the largest capacity on site at Tees by any means, and joins a suite of CNC horizontal borers following decades of heavy investment.

Sharon Lane, managing director, says: “This significant investment is an essential element in supporting the delivery of our increasing project pipeline, and we’re ready to push ahead with our growth plans.”

Ward CNC’s managing director Simon Whitworth adds: “We have a proud and long-standing relationship with Tees Components which began with the supply of a Webster & Bennett vertical boring machine four decades ago. Ever since that time they have continuously showcased their capability and commitment to their customers, and it is a privilege to support such an esteemed organisation.

“Now that the machine has been commissioned, we look forward to continuing this relationship by supporting Sharon and the Tees Components team with any technical or applications support required on their new projects,”
he concludes.

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Larger capacity five-axis mill-turn

Manufacturers wishing to carry out prismatic and rotational metal cutting in one hit within a 300 x 440 x 305 mm working volume can now take advantage of a new high-productivity Brother 30-taper, five-axis mill-turn centre.

The machine follows Brother’s introduction of the Speedio M300X3, which joins the smaller M200X3 that offers 200 mm of X-axis travel. Sole agent for sales and service in the UK and Ireland is Whitehouse Machine Tools.

Both multi-tasking machines are characterised by an 18.9 kW/40 Nm tool carousel deploying 22 cutters at up to 10,000 rpm, or 16,000 rpm with the Big Plus dual-contact spindle option. Below the carousel is an A-axis trunnion carrying a high output, direct-drive, C-axis turning table. Rated at 4.6 kW/1500 rpm in the new machine, it is over 25% more powerful than the table in the smaller model and generates up to 102 Nm of turning torque. When milling, a 30 m/min cutting feed rate maintains a high level of productivity while 400 Nm of C-axis clamping force ensures accuracy is maintained.

A-axis rotation from +120 to -30° allows the machining of features at the rear of components and facilitates the loading and unloading of parts at the front of the machine. The axis is tilted by a backlash-free roller drive to promote accurate metal cutting. A holding force of 500 Nm, without the need for mechanical clamping, delivers high-speed indexing combined with rigidity when milling parts at an angle or turning them in the horizontal plane.

Non-productive time is minimised by repositioning the X, Y, Z, A and C axes simultaneously during tool change, which takes place in 1.5 seconds chip-to-chip. Linear rapids are 50 m/min and the A and C axes move at up to 50 and 200 rpm respectively.

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