Heller Machine Tools has supplied a large, heavy-duty machine to GKN Aerospace Filton, near Bristol, to rough titanium aircraft components. The machine was installed on budget and ahead of schedule, and has started producing a family of five structural components from titanium forgings, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Six years ago, there was a possibility of the Integrated Machining Facility at Filton also being contracted to finish-machine the components. This work has not materialised, but it meant that a large, five-axis machining centre (from a different supplier) had to be installed at the outset so that both roughing and finishing operations could be completed.
During 2017, the customer doubled the lot sizes to be manufactured, mirroring a similar increase in 2016. A second machining centre was therefore needed to cope with demand, but as the contract remains for roughing only, leaving a 3 mm stock allowance ± 0.127 mm over the entire surface of each part, a more cost effective four-axis CNC machine was deemed sufficient for the task.
Six potential HMC suppliers were considered, half of which were shortlisted. John Hendry, project improvement engineer, and Mike Davis, engineering group leader, opted for a Heller H 1600 with a high-torque spindle. Additionally, despite the machine’s size and rigidity, its installed weight at less than 50 tonnes allowed it to be positioned in the Filton facility (where there is a solid 300 mm thick floor) without the need for any special foundations.
“The Heller machine was the best value solution for us at the quality end of the market,” states Hendry.
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