Five-axis portal mill for prototypes

A portal, five-axis milling machine has been introduced by German machine-tool manufacturer Zimmermann at the lower end of its price range. Available in the UK and Ireland through Geo Kingsbury Machine Tools, the compact FZU is intended primarily for prototype, tool and mould making, as well as machining composite components such as airframes.

Of thermo-symmetrical and stable design, the machine is suitable for manufacturing workpieces from aluminium, plastics and model board. Unlike other machines in the Zimmermann range, the FZU is shipped in one piece so does not need to be assembled at the customer’s premises.
The working volume is available from a choice of X-axis travels of 2000, 4000 or 6000 mm, a 3000 mm Y axis, and either 1250 or 1500 mm movement in Z. Acceleration is 3 m/s2 to the maximum 60 m/min feed rate. Table loads of up to 10 tonnes can be accommodated.
The fourth and fifth CNC axes are provided by the newly developed VH10 spindle head, now the smallest in the manufacturer’s range. Of slender design, it provides minimal interference contours and high clamping force for stable milling.
A HSK-A63 spindle is standard, delivering 34 kW of power and 39 Nm of torque continuously, and offering a maximum speed of 24,000 rpm. The A axis swivels through 220°, while C-axis rotation is 300 or 360° for the smaller and larger Z-axis travels respectively. Resolution in both rotary axes is 0.0001°.
Control is provided by either a Heidenhain TNC 640 or Siemens Sinumerik 840D sl. Other options include spindle probing, tool measuring, and capacity for 40 or 60 tools in the magazine instead of the standard 20 tools.
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Aerospace firm expands five-axis machining

A seventh five-axis machining centre has been installed at Preston-based, tier-two aerospace subcontractor, TGM, primarily to cope with increasing volumes of Airbus A350 work. Two years ago, each month the firm was delivering four port and starboard aircraft wing sets comprising 20 parts each, whereas today 10 sets per month are required and the number will climb further over the next two years.

The latest addition to the firm’s five-axis capacity is a Hurco VMX42SRTi, which has conversational programming capability built into its WinMax control system. TGM director Sarah Stephens says: “We already had eight three-axis Hurco machining centres on-site, including one with an add-on rotary axis, so were familiar with the manufacturer’s twin-screen, menu-driven control system and graphical user interface.
“Our operators have always found it to be user friendly for shop-floor programming, and on the latest machine only the fifth B-axis that swivels the spindle head is different, so adaptation was easy,” she adds. “The skill sets were already in place to create five-axis cycles involving the positioning of both rotary axes.
“We purchased extra WinMax software to run on a laptop and use it to program around 90% of jobs run on the Hurcos, including the five-axis machine, with data for the remaining work entered at the controls on the shop floor. Essentially, the Hurco software is an inexpensive way of preparing components for 3+2-axis machining. It is like an extra CAM seat but costs vastly less than the £50,000 purchase price and £5000 annual maintenance of one of our top-end CADCAM packages alone.”
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Marine firm installs Heller machines

Heller reports that the installation of two of its five-axis machining centres, one with turning capability, has transformed the efficiency and repeatability with which marine components are machined at an offshore equipment manufacturer and refurbishment centre in the UK.

Four alternative proposals from different suppliers were considered before opting for the Heller solution. One possibility was to install a five-axis machine fitted with a rotary table on a swivelling trunnion. The problem with this type of machine is that the Z-axis stroke is too limited to allow the drilling of deep holes in the top of the casting, unless an unduly large and costly machine had been purchased. Heller FP/CT 4000 machines offer machining capacity with up to 1000 mm in the Z axis.
Previously, the process for machining cast steel components was labour intensive, involving highly skilled machinists setting up each part 16 times on manual mills, drilling machines and lathes. Lead time from customer order to delivery was 24 weeks, partly because machining took a 40 hour man week, typically spread over a month.
Today, the whole process has been reduced from 24 to just six weeks, as the parts can now be milled and drilled in one hit on both Heller five-axis machining centres, and also turned in the case of the second machine. Within the family of six sizes of component, one variant, for example, now takes just nine hours to mill and drill, and requires a further one hour for turning operations.
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Life in the fast lane with Haas

Founded in 1958 by the four Walklett brothers, Ginetta has a long and successful history of producing hand-built road and race cars. By the time it was acquired by Lawrence Tomlinson’s LNT Group in 2005, it had gained a reputation as one the most renowned British heritage race car brands. Taking the lead in British race car manufacturing, Ginetta is putting the UK at the heart of world class motorsport, selling cars across the world and training the brightest stars in motor racing.

Every car is hand-built in a 75,000 sq ft factory just outside Leeds. Recently, the company invested in its first CNC machine tool; a Haas VF-4SS Super Speed vertical mill with 12,000 rpm spindle, 24+1 tool stations and four-axis control. The machine is central to the manufacture of the new G58, an evolution of the G57. This latest prototype was created in response to feedback from existing customers and will boast a 6.2 litre V8 engine, capable of producing 575 bhp. Tipped to be one of the fastest track-day machines on the market, the G58 will lap within four seconds of an LMP2 car, at a fraction of the cost.
The VF-4SS is also cutting parts for the new G60-LT-P1, recently unveiled at Autosport 2018, which is bound for the 2018/19 FIA world Endurance Championships, including Le Mans 24 Hours.
Daniel Shaw, supply chain manager explains the reasons behind choosing Haas: “The Super Speed Haas is perfect for machining the highly complex aluminium parts we produce. It’s very easy to use and great value for money. The complete package was so good we couldn’t say no.”
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DJM installs first XYZ 500LR VMC in UK

Based in the village of Warkworth, near Banbury, DJM Engineering has recently acquired an XYZ 500LR vertical machining centre – the first of its type in the UK – to handle the company’s requirement for one-off and small batch work. A Siemens 828D control was supplied with the upgrade to Shopmill software, along with Renishaw Primo tool and work probing as part of the overall package.

“We are impressed by the capabilities of the XYZ 500LR machine, and are not holding back on speeds and feeds across a range of materials,” says director Colin Merry. “The machine is more than capable of maximising modern cutting-tool technology, and provides us with a working envelope that is ample for our needs in a compact footprint.”
The machine was purchased to meet growing demand for not only its own work on special machines, but an increase in subcontract jobs.
“From the word go, discussing our requirements with XYZ, we were confident that we were being pointed in the direction of a machine that would meet our needs, not just a machine that XYZ wanted to sell,” says Merry. “As a small family concern it is a refreshing change to get such service from a supplier, as it is how we like to think we treat our customers; the result being ongoing business.”
The XYZ 500LR was launched in 2017 as the first XYZ machining centre to feature linear rail guides, a decision taken as XYZ now feels that this technology meets its stringent quality/performance criteria. The three-machine LR series (500, 750, and 1000) also features the standard Siemens 828D, which allows customers to tailor the options to their requirements, such as the Shopmill feature used by DJM.
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