Vertical Machining Center handles many pallets at once.

Press Release Summary:

VF-3 Mini FMS has dual pallet stations, 4 pallets, automatic pallet changers, and 40-tool side-mount tool changer. For multi-op parts, each pallet can be set up to run different operation. Parts are moved from pallet to pallet for machining, rather than having to change entire machine setup after each operation. Parts can be run just-in-time, rather than by batch. Fixturing for repeat jobs can be left set up on pallet and stored off machine.

Original Press Release:

More pallets means more parts. More parts means more money.

With the manufacturing industry struggling to survive the current economic slowdown, and facing a continuing shortage of skilled labor, anything that boosts a shop's production and reduces the bottom line is welcome. But convincing shop owners to invest in new equipment can be a hard sell when they may be struggling just to pay the bills. If the economic gains outweigh the costs, however, a new machine might be the best solution to improve the balance sheet.

Although flexible manufacturing systems are commonplace at large manufacturers, their high price and large size usually make them unfeasible, or even undesirable, for smaller manufacturers and job shops. Haas Automation, Inc., however, has introduced a new Mini FMS that provides the advantages of a flexible manufacturing system in a package that is not only compact in size, but very affordable. The all-new Haas VF-3 Mini FMS is a mid-size vertical machining center that features dual pallet stations, four pallets and a 40-tool side-mount tool changer to provide four times the capacity of a standard VMC.

At the heart of the Haas Mini FMS is the 40-taper VF-3 vertical machining center with 40"x20"x25" travels. The machine is flanked by a pair of Haas-built automatic pallet changers (APCs) - one on each side - which feature twin 40"x19" steel pallets drilled in a standard hole pattern (I /2"-13 on 5" centers) to facilitate easy fixturing. Each APC is built on a heavy cast-iron base and secured directly to the VMC for stability, eliminating the need for further anchoring.

The VF-3 Mini FMS comes standard with a 20-hp Vector Dual Drive spindle that spins to 7,500 rpm and provides 75 ft-lb of torque. The Haas dual-drive system uses wye-delta switching to provide high torque and a wide constant horsepower band. For heavy cutting and more versatility, a high-precision two-speed gearbox is available that yields 250 ft-lb of torque. Other spindle options are also available, including 10,000-, 15,000- and 30,000-rpm spindles for high-speed machining, and a high- torque 10K spindle with 30-hp vector drive.

With dual APCs and four pallets, the benefits of the VF-3 Mini FMS are numerous. For multi-op parts, each pallet can be set up to run a different operation. Parts are moved from pallet to pallet for machining, rather than having to change the entire machine setup after each operation. Parts can be run just-in-time, rather than by batch.

For shops doing repeated short runs, the innovative dual pallet changer system allows quick setups, and each pallet can be configured to run a completely different job. Since pallets are interchangeable and extra pallets are available, fixturing for repeat jobs can be left set up on a pallet and stored off the machine.

For high-volume work, four times as many parts can be run by setting up the same job on all four pallets. Since parts and materials can be loaded and unloaded offline while parts are being machined on another pallet, non-cutting time is kept to a minimum. With all four pallets loaded, the VF-3 Mini FMS can run unattended, providing lights-out manufacturing to increase productivity and reduce labor costs. Once the machine is running, the operator is free to perform other operations, attend to another machining center or even go home.

Unlike many flexible manufacturing systems, the VF-3 Mini FMS is a turnkey system that is simple to operate and requires minimal training. Seamless operation is provided through the Haas control, with pallets changing in less than 30 seconds. Enclosure doors on each side open and close automatically during pallet changes. The VF-3 Mini FMS provides the capacity of four machines, but with one half the footprint and for around one half the cost.

The 40-tool side-mount tool changer (SMTC) is another important feature of the VF-3 Mini FMS. Featuring a quick-change double-arm gripper, tool changes take only 2.8 seconds. The SMTC provides plenty of pockets to load the number of tools necessary for complex machining operations and multiple jobs. Extra pockets, when used in conjunction with macros, tool life management and tool load monitoring, can be dedicated to back-up tooling for unattended operation.

For high-speed machining work, the XRT Extra Rapid Traverse option boosts rapids to 1,200 inches per minute and cutting feedrates to 833 inches per minute for reduced cycle times and faster production. The High-Speed Machining option, with 80-block look-ahead, is a powerful tool for higher accuracy, smoother motion and a higher actual feedrate. Adding these options to the unique four-pallet system makes the VF-3 Mini FMS the fastest and most productive machine in the manufacturing industry.

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