New Technology. But How Does That Make It Better?

Posted by: 3. August 2015

New technologies are routinely applied to machine tool design and construction. As a former machine tool sales engineer, I tried to call attention to the new technology whenever it was introduced to one of the machines I was selling. But because the technology was new, more often than not, very few people would actually understand how the difference between the old and new might change the way they machined parts.  It isn’t good enough to quote the specs and machine features. It’s critical to state the feature and the benefit to the user.

No one machine tool builder has a monopoly on new technology. But maybe better than any other builder, Makino does a great job explaining what their technology can do for you.  And they don’t wait for a face to face meeting between their sales people and the customer. They do it in their marketing, their white papers, their technical descriptions, and on their website.

Case in point is what Makino says publically about their new a40 horizontal machining center.  Notice the targeted focus on what the technology they’ve applied to the a40 means to companies that machine die cast and other near net shape parts. I’ll paraphrase slightly…

Makino’s  a40 is the first and only horizontal machining center purpose-built for non-ferrous die-cast parts machining. Until now, machine tool selection for the die cast market has been limited to general-purpose horizontals that possess unnecessary capabilities and result in extended cycle times in the machining of near net shape die cast parts. The a40 addresses the unique needs of the die cast market by enhancing machine attributes most critical to improving productivity and per-piece costs in the machining of near net shape die-cast aluminum parts.

“Die cast manufacturers are under intense pricing pressure with mandatory cost reductions from OEMs and increasing global competition. The keys to overcoming these challenges lies in the reduction of machining cycle time and elimination of unplanned down time,” said David Ward, horizontal product line manager for Makino. “To address the cycle time issue, Makino has re-evaluated each of the major castings using an Intelligent R.O.I [Reduction of Inertia] design philosophy. The new design provides superior linear and radial agility and acceleration.”

With the introduction of the a40, die cast manufacturers now have a machine that is designed specifically with their production goals in mind. The machine’s ability to reduce part machining cycle time not only cuts down on per-piece cost, but also has far-reaching savings affecting capital investment, labor, floor space, utility consumption and durable tooling.

Makino’s Intelligent R.O.I. (Reduction of Inertia) design is a collection of innovative technologies designed to slash un-productive non-cut times from part processes. Through this unique design strategy the a40 is able to provide:

- Responsive CAT40 spindle acceleration to 12,000 rpm in 0.5 seconds.

- Quick completion of common tapping operations with 6,000-rpm rigid tapping synchronization speed.

- An  average of 29% faster time to full rapid traverse rate, minimizing common feature to feature positioning time.

- Optimal acceleration performance of multiple machine systems with evaluation of fixture and tool weights through Inertia Active Control (IAC) technology.

Unplanned down time is devastating to high-volume die cast production machining. As such, the reliability of the machining system is paramount. The a40 utilizes several of the robust, proven systems from Makino’s 1-Series horizontal machining centers. Systems like single-piece X- and Z-axis covers, center trough chip and coolant management and dual supported ATC mechanisms provide exceptional reliability throughout the life of the machine. The a40 leverages these proven technologies, but then advances reliability with a host of new systems:

- Standard Vision type broken tool detection supports unattended operation by quickly validating the condition of the cutting tools after each tool change.

- Dedicated tool taper cleaning nozzles wash the tool taper with 20μ filtered coolant with each tool change, ensuring contamination free tool clamping.

- Three stage coolant filtration with 20μ hydro-cyclone, eliminates coolant tank sludge common with aluminum machining, extending time between coolant system PM or cleaning.

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