Product innovations for the future

Combined friction stir welding and machining processes, scalable manufacturing for micro-technology and high-productivity twin-spindle machining – are just three of the new product innovations by the Chiron Group that are now available in the UK from the Engineering Technology Group (ETG).

High dynamics and stability, plus a large working chamber with a twin-spindle concept and a spindle distance up to 1200 mm – this is the 22, 25 and 28 series from Chiron. Offered by ETG, Chiron says that the new machines are primed to set a new benchmark in terms of productivity and precision in this size range – and they are demonstrably doing so already. As an example, a DZ 25P that has been in use for two years in manufacturing structural components for the automotive industry. All in all, this turnkey solution has provided “a stable and high-precision process with greatly increased output in comparison to the previous system”, according to the customer.

In addition to double-spindle applications such as battery and e-motor housing manufacture, these new series are fully capable of massive machining applications starting with solid blocks. The extremely stable portal design forms the basis for high precision while the well-thought-out working area and user ergonomics enable flexible integration of a wide range of automation solutions for production process reliability.

In another development, the Chiron Group and ETG are now offering a manufacturing system for the micro-technology sector that provides high-precision automated machining of workpieces with maximum dimensions of 50 x 50 x 50 mm.

Finally, by combining FSW and machining, Chiron is developing a forward-thinking innovation. The first projects are already underway at a technology partner company, resulting in the first turnkey machining centres such as the MILL 2000.
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Productive added-value with high-speed mill

With the release of a 4 kW version of its MXCube, Datron is focusing on the high-performance machining of aluminium.

Since its initial launch in 2020, the Datron MXCube has gained a reputation for dynamics and precision. Its rigid structure and powerful high-frequency spindles with 4 and 8 kW power are tailor-made attributes for modern HSC strategies. Datron says that the combination of high chip volume and high surface finish therefore makes the MXCube a must-have for modern milling shops where unit costs determine the work cycle. As another point of note, the machine is a previous winner of the Red Dot award for its attractive design.

As of now, the Datron MXCube is also available with a 4 kW spindle and the automatic Datron Tool Assist tool changer offering 143 HSK-25 tool slots. At this performance level, it is particularly recommended for applications where a high number of sister tools is required. The Datron MXCube also convinces with its sophisticated chip management and is offered with an optional chip conveyor.

Datron says that MXCube is the right choice wherever high dynamics, high speeds and corresponding feed rates are required for the machining of aluminium and non-ferrous metals. In addition, the machine offers accessibility to all functional elements and thus simplifies not only the operation for the worker but also the maintenance for the service.

Like all Datron high-speed milling machines, the MXCube offers a large working area within a relatively small corresponding footprint.
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Five-axis gantry-based profiling centre

The new top-of-the-range model from Elumatec is a breakthrough: as the first five-axis machine in a gantry design, the SBZ 155 profile machining centre raises the bar for automated CNC machining of aluminium and thin-walled steel profiles. With better performance than ever before and designed entirely to meet customer needs, Elumatec says that customers can accelerate their processes and open up new business segments.
The machine is expected to be available from Q1 2023.

“Our new top-of-the-range model gives industrial and metal construction customers a clear competitive edge,” says Elumatec CEO Paolo Bianchi. One example is the tool changeover times of the SBZ 155, which are minimised by the high rates of travel of the servo axes to guarantee optimum machining cycles.

Customisable equipment options give customers maximum flexibility to make their production processes even more efficient, and optional features include six-sided machining from below with an angle head and the space-saving gantry drive.

The SBZ 155 will be a particular asset for businesses which are thinking big in every sense: its large on-board magazines can be equipped with 14 standard tools, and depending on the individual configuration, up to six special tools and two 200 or 550 mm diameter saw blades can be used.

A gantry design and a machining area divided into two zones allow profiles with cross-sections of up to 1000 x 380 mm to be picked up and passed through, as well as flexible working in shuttle mode. Overall, the SBZ 155 delivers precise machining results even at high rates of travel, while its speed-regulated spindle ensures high process reliability even with quickly changing loads.
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XYZ mill boosts time-critical deliveries

Seal Team Systems creates bespoke leak repair systems for customers such as food manufacturers, energy generators, water suppliers and hospitals. The on-site leak sealing technology minimises any disruption or downtime, which can be expensive or life threatening. Time is therefore critical in manufacturing a range of components that combined can create an effective leak repair which can be made permanent at the next scheduled maintenance shutdown.

With every on-site leak posing different problems, the parts manufactured by Chesterfield-based Seal Team Systems are bespoke. The process starts with a customer site visit by a trained technician who reviews the problem and takes detailed measurements. Manufacturing starts upon the technician’s return to the factory. All of this can take 2-3 days, a situation compounded by a reliance on manual machining. To address this situation, Seal Team Systems has invested in an XYZ RMX 5000 bed mill fitted with the latest ProtoTRAK control system.

“We recognised a need to automate the process as much as possible, especially as finding the skilled people to create the parts we need was becoming harder,” says Andy Mills, director at Seal Team Systems. “With the XYZ RMX 5000, the technician, who was also the machinist, can now simply text all the details to us and we can start machining straightaway, turning what was a 2-3 day process into a next day service.”

Ken Black, director at Seal Team Systems, adds: “The move to the RMX 5000 with the ProtoTRAK control was a logical step up from manual machining, the training was straightforward, and we were operating it very soon after installation. The time savings we are making are significant, and typically amount to a 66% reduction in lead times.”
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Machining large composite motorsport parts

Headquartered in Fontwell, West Sussex and operating from four sites near the south coast of England, GTR Composites is known for supplying Formula One teams with carbon-fibre components and assemblies. The subcontractor has produced lightweight chassis and other large parts from composite materials for a long time, but at the beginning of 2021 it started final-machining them to tolerances measured in tens of microns.

The introduction of this new service followed the purchase of a German-built Zimmermann FZU400 five-axis machining centre, installed at GTR’s Bognor Regis facility at the end of 2020 by UK sales and service agent Kingsbury. Having a 4000 x 3000 x 1250 mm working envelope, the portal machine was selected from a shortlist of three due to its ability to hold very high accuracy.

For example, a positional tolerance of 50 µm is achieved on features across a full chassis, while holes and counterbores are held to within 10 or 20 µm. As the components are of high value, GTR adopts a policy of having an operator permanently in attendance, even when the FZU400 is running overnight.

Simon Kingdon-Butcher, joint owner (with John Biddlecombe) of GTR, says: “The Zimmermann machine stood out in terms of its rigidity, which translates into the tight tolerances we are able to hold when cutting carbon fibre. We’re able to impress our customers by hitting really tight limits that our competitors cannot achieve.

“High spindle power – 34 kW continuous/41 kW peak – enables us to rough aluminium moulds, while spindle speeds up to 24,000 rpm means their surfaces can be finish-machined to very high quality using minimum quantity lubrication,” he adds. “MQL also enables us to mill and drill carbon fibre components containing titanium or aluminium inserts in the presence of a specific type of coolant approved by our customers.”

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