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Selecting The Right Machine Is The Last Step

Posted by: 5. February 2015

When I learned about Trimill Machine Tools, Zlin - Louky, Czech Republic, I saw a builder of mostly large vertical and horizontal 3-, 4-, 5-, and 7-axis milling machines and machining centers.  And yes, they do manufacture portal-style and gantry-type machines with X-axis travels up to, well, just about any length required. But I also learned something unusual about Trimill, and something that makes them unique among machine tool builders. Of course many machine tool builders will turnkey jobs included in the sale of their machinery. But Trimill has deep knowledge in the machining of tools, dies, and molds.  And because they are expert in this niche, they are able to show customers real world, live applications of tool and die and mold cutting in their demo facilities. Their solutions process begins with an analysis of the part, family, or types of parts the customer is making, then moves on to identification of the proper cutting strategy, followed by CAM system and cutting tool selection, and only then concludes with the selection of the optimal machine tool for the job.

Considering that their typical machine is capable of handling 100,000 lb., or heavier parts, and most mold and tool work is made of hard metals, machine rigidity and accuracy are critical elements for successful machining. Trimill’s machine construction stands out. Their spindles are housed in a kind of “box-in-box” configuration which provides additional rigidity and support no matter where along the X, Y, or Z axis the tool is in contact with the part. In other words, the tool is always maintained with optimal rigidity due to the box-in-box design concept. Also bearing support on all sides of the spindle prevents deflection typical of some other machine designs.

Trimill manufactures the HF Series, 7-axis horizontal machining center. Why seven axes?  Theoretically a full 5-axis machine provides access to any part face and enables milling of the most complex 3D surfaces. But in actual practice, every 5-axis machine has its access-to-surfaces limitations. And even when the spindle can reach any of the sides or top of the part, tool or spindle overhang results in lack of rigidity. Some parts may be better held stationary when milling, while in other applications the ideal machining condition may dictate minimal movement of the spindle, thereby requiring the part to move around the tool. The HF Series 7-axis machine is equipped with an A/C dual-axis articulated spindle, a B axis rotary table, and of course, the X-, Y-, and Z- axes. The seventh axis is the “W-axis,” which moves the rotary table towards and away from the spindle. The Z axis parallels that same motion, but instead of moving the table towards and away from the spindle, the Z axis is the spindle ram which moves the spindle towards and away from the table. This replication of axes motion provides added flexibility to enable difficult to reach surfaces or a process decision to stabilize the part or the spindle.

Currently, though Trimill does not have an office in the U.S. or Canada, distributors in Canada and the U.S. are selling and supporting machines. 

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