Aerospace is a currently a ripe growth market for machining, with strong demand being generated by new aircraft, demand for fuel-efficient engines, and maintenance and overhaul of older planes. Market forecasts put global builds at 34,000 civil aircraft alone in the next 20 years worth $4.4 trillion.
Among the machining system suppliers that are looking to maximize their presence in the market is Makino, based in Mason Ohio. In April, the company formed an aerospace engine technology group, and last month exhibited machining equipment for engines and structural components at the Paris Air Show.
Makino’s latest development is a 5-axis horizontal machining center (HMC) for relatively small and complex aluminum components (700 by 400 mm — 27.5 by 15.7 in). The HMC, bearing the a61nx-5E model number, is designed to provide the throughput capabilities and performance of Makino’s larger MAG-Series machines in a robust unit sized for parts weighing up to 150 kg (330 lb). Marketing Manager Mark Rentschler says the a61nx-5E combines speed and performance in a machine that is optimally sized for most job shops.
Machine configurations begin with a standard 14,000-rpm spindle. Options include a high-torque 14,000-rpm version, one with a 20,000-rpm spindle, and a 24,000-rpm core-cooled model. Makino says the 20,000-rpm spindle achieves roughing and finishing cycle-time reductions of 45 to 50 percent over conventional spindles of the same speed.
The a61nx-5E removes up to 310 ipm of metal (4,900 cm3/min), says Rentschler. Other features include innovative twin direct-drive rotary tables that improve cutting-tool access (especially for small tools), performance, and accuracy, and which facilitate workpiece loading and unloading.
The tables have a 45-deg pivot point that allows transfer of a pallet from vertical fixturing to a horizontal position for unloading and loading while a second workpiece is being positioned vertically for machining. The loading height is 32 in, which Makino believes is optimum for ergonomics.
Rentschler says the speed and simplicity of the loading and unloading processes improve productivity and facilitate automation.
The table also has a closed-loop thermal management system to control heat from the motors.
The machine’s X- and Y-axis travels are both 730 mm (28.7 in), while Z-axis travel is 680 mm (26.8 in). The automatic tool-changer has magazine options for 133, 218, or 313 tools.
Makino has posted videos of the a61nx-5E in action on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_YvKFWkOnc.