5-axis adds edge for Aerotech

20 Apr 2017
Aerotech is investing in its future post-Brexit

Aerotech is investing in its future post-Brexit

A leading subcontractor is preferring to take a proactive approach to uncertain and challenging times by investing in state-of-the-art 5-axis machining centre.

Aerotech is very much of the opinion that its new Doosan VCF 850LSR 5-axis machining centre from Mills CNC, along with investing in its processes, systems, people and supply chain relationships, will prepare it for the future and better position it to capitalise on opportunities post-Brexit.

Aaron Houston, business development manager, Aerotech, said: “We operate in highly-competitive global markets and, as such, you simply cannot afford to ‘stand still’.”

“As a consequence, we regularly audit and review our engineering and technical capacity and capabilities - benchmarking where we are against where we need to be. If there’s a disconnect between the two, we make strategic investments in the latest technology to bridge the gap.”

Aerotech manufacturers and supplies high-precision complex components and assemblies for the aerospace, defence, medical devices, nuclear and oil and gas sectors, as well as parts for ‘special purpose’ processing industry and packaging equipment and machines.

Components machined by Aerotech vary considerably and include prototypes and one-offs through to small-medium batch production.

The investment was intended to help the company reduce job set-up times and part cycle times and in doing so, improve its productivity and process reliability.

Allan Redfern, director, Aerotech, said: “Although we decided on the 5-axis machine tool route there are so many different types and models available that we made sure we gave ourselves sufficient time to investigate the market thoroughly to ensure we selected the right machine for our requirements.”

Because of the sectors that Aerotech serves, it was important that the new machine delivers excellent cutting performance and enabled the company to produce parts using 3-axis, 4 + 1 and full 5-axis simultaneous machining.

The large-capacity moving-column VCF 850LSR machine has X-, Y- and Z-axis travels of 3000mm x 850mm x 800mm, a B-axis (+/- 110 degrees) built-in, ‘swivelling head’ milling spindle (32kW/12,000 rpm) and a 800mm diameter (built-in) rotary table integrated into the machine’s 3500mm x 870mm long bed.

The machine also features roller LM linear guideways, a 60-position servo-driven chain-type ATC, the BIG PLUS face and taper tool shank configuration and onboard cooling systems that help minimise thermal displacement during long production runs.

Mr Redfern continued: “The VCF 850LSR represents a sound investment and is being used to machine complex, high-precision components for aerospace, defence and nuclear sector customers.”

“One of the components being machined on the Doosan is used in advanced, remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) - which themselves are used in the detection, assessment and destruction of sea mines. “

He explained that the components made from aerospace grade aluminium alloy and are machined from solid first on a lathe and then 4-/5-axis machined on the VCF 850LSR.

The components are rough machined in the first instance, which requires significant high accuracy stock removal and, subsequently, are finish machined to realise a Ra 0.4µm surface finish.

“Since machining these parts on the new Doosan machine, cycle times have been reduced dramatically,” Mr Redfern said.

Currently, the VCF 850LSR is taking on more and more work and has also become a focal point for customers and prospects visiting Aerotech’s 2,500 square metre facility.

Mr Houston said: “When visitors see the VCF 850LSR up close and in action they are impressed. The machine provides them with confidence and the certainty that Aerotech can achieve the part quality and lead times they demand.”

“With advanced machining technologies on our side we are prepared for most, if not all, eventualities in these challenging times.”

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