High-performance AMRC aerospace projects

Tripartite collaboration between project enabler/integrator, machine tool supplier and tool-holding specialist is continually pushing the boundaries of high-performance machining and increasingly reducing machining lead times and production costs for a major aerospace company.

The ongoing work between the project lead – the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) – and machine tool specialist Starrag UK, plus the tooling expertise of Nikken Kosakusho on a variety of aluminium and titanium aerostructure workpieces is cutting piece part costs through the creation of improved machining routines.

“Although not directly targeted by the projects, in some cases reductions in cycle times are a rewarding by-product of the work; in certain instances of more than 50% compared with ‘conventional’ machining processes,” says Starrag UK’s director for sales and applications, Lee Scott.

Among Nikken’s tool-holding solutions is the Slim Chuck, a high-accuracy collet chuck that boasts minimal runout – 3 µm at 4xD– leading to higher component precision and improved tool life. Also, its maximum gripping torque of more than double that of traditional ER alternatives, not only complements the Heckert X40’s rigidity/stability to permit more aggressive machining parameters, it also improves process security and therefore leads to reduced scrap.

The workpieces – of titanium and aluminium – all fit within the machining envelope of 700 x 750 x 750 mm.

Tom McCready, engineering and operations manager at the AMRC’s Machining Group, says: “With all three partners collaborating closely, we have so far collectively achieved some incredibly successful results by pushing the limits of the machine and the tooling for increased metal removal, without jeopardising quality, on these workpieces.”
For further information www.starrag.com