Patents cover design of uniformly rigid cutting zone, "flight deck" operator's station, and externally mounted drives
MAG has received three patents for the design of its HyperMach(TM) H-series aerospace profiler, with two additional patents pending, validating the machine's unique design driven by voice-of-the-customer engineering and introduced at IMTS 2008. "We created this machine to set benchmarks, not chase them, and it has done just that," said Rich Curless, MAG's Chief Technology Officer. "The combination of horizontal part loading, fall-through chip management, and the flight-deck operator's station allows the HyperMach machine - with one spindle - to produce cleaner and with higher productivity than conventional three-spindle vertical gantry mills."
Developed for high-output machining of large monolithic aluminum or titanium aerospace parts, the 5-axis HyperMach H-series turns the typical profiler concept on its side in a fixed-column, traveling table arrangement. This modular machine design accepts single or nested parts from 2 x 4 m to 2 x 20 m, with a wide choice of spindle speeds and torques to match material requirements.
Curless explained that the H-series is engineered around five key parameters required for high-performance machining - high spindle rpm, high spindle power, high-feed toolpath rates, high acceleration and deceleration, and high accuracy. These requirements call for robust construction and outstanding dynamic response, both of which are facilitated by one of the key patents on the machine: closed-loop, four-column lock-up between the column and table base, which provides consistent rigidity throughout the workzone. "In many machine designs, the rigidity varies dramatically throughout the workzone," Curless explained. "As a result, a process that is stable in one part of the workzone may chatter in another." The four-column lock-up maximizes stiffness and provides consistent cutting performance at any position of the pallet and spindle, while eliminating thermal drift and periodic realignment of column and pallet table. The H-series is also the only machine in its class that can be set up for pallet load from the right or left side with chip conveyor discharge configured in either direction, enabling best-fit to shop layout and work flow. The basic machine design allows flat floor installation, which reduces cost and installation time by avoiding pits and multi-step foundations, allowing easy reconfiguration of plant layout.
A second patent covers the "flight deck" ergonomics of the operator station. Its layout permits visual monitoring of the machine's HMI, the work zone, the tool change process, tool in the ready position, the tool magazine itself, and utilities panel, as well as immediate physical access to the work zone. "All the things the operator needs to give most attention to are within reach and view from one location," said Curless. "The operator can check, load and exchange tools without walking around to the other side of the machine. Status lights, visible through an adjacent utility panel door, let the operator monitor machine health. Doors allow immediate access from the operator station to the workzone of the machine and utilities panel, and full direct viewing of the part."
The third patent covers features related to maintainability and reliability. "The motors and drives are located on the exterior of the machine structure, away from workzone contamination," Curless explained. "Critical drive components - ways, bearing, ballscrews, scales - can be accessed and serviced from the exterior of the machine. This avoids the need to remove sealed covers to gain access for maintenance." The machine's large drive motors and drive systems are mounted on the stationary structure, minimizing the number of large cables and hoses that need to be passed through a flexing power carrier, which is a reliability weak point. The H4000 is also virtually free of hydraulics for reduced maintenance, noise and energy use.
Pending patents cover the part loading system for the machine and the pallet handling/clamping system. The part loading system allows material loading in the horizontal position, then orients the pallet to a vertical position for shuttling into the workzone and machining in that orientation. The pallet clamping system uses vacuum chucks in the Z-axis plane, and achieves its Z and Y locations with gravity alone. "This system allows the same pallet to be loaded from either or both sides of the machine without any modification to the system, thereby allowing a wide variety of configurations without modification to the machine," Curless explained. Coupled with MAG's CINCRON® cell automation modules, the H-series machine design allows a near-infinite number of material handling and cell configurations for flexible multi-machine and multi-pallet part manufacturing.
The HyperMach H-Series was also designed for a broad range of manufacturing capabilities and low-cost producibility. The 4, 6 and 8-meter sizes of the machine share 90 percent of the same parts.
MAG is a leading machine tool and systems company serving the durable-goods industry worldwide with complete manufacturing solutions. The company offers a comprehensive line of equipment and technologies including process development, automated assembly, turning, milling, automotive powertrain production, composites processing, maintenance, automation and controls, and core components. Key industrial markets served by these technologies include aerospace, automotive and truck, heavy equipment, oil and gas, rail, solar energy, wind turbine production and general machining.
With manufacturing and support operations strategically located worldwide, MAG ranks as a leader in the capital equipment market. A growing number of leading international companies are relying on the impressive innovation power of MAG to assure their technological leadership and prepare for future challenges.
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