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Efficient Machining of Cast Components Stable Machining on 5 Axes and Future-Oriented Networking

Editor: MA Alexander Stark

With the HF 3500 5-axis machining center from Heller, ZSO Zerspanungs- und Systemtechnik GmbH has invested in a completely new concept. The 150-employee company from Bavaria also considers the Industry 4.0 features of the center as a particular benefit.

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Compared to currently available concepts, the additional counter bearing on the directly driven AB axis of the HF 3500 machining center from Heller was considered to be more reliable.
Compared to currently available concepts, the additional counter bearing on the directly driven AB axis of the HF 3500 machining center from Heller was considered to be more reliable.
(Source: Heller)

The user’s aim was to obtain a fully automated cell for a large project that had still been in the acquisition phase. The project involved components made of cast aluminium with a production volume of several tens of thousands of pieces per year, manufactured for a large automotive supplier. The workpieces had to be machined in five-axes in two settings. Additionally, a steel bush had to be shrunk with nitrogen between the two settings. Therefore, the company was looking for a flexible 5-axis machining center that offered high availability and short tool change times.

Accordingly, Managing Director Dr. Carsten Binder first examined efficiency, operating life and the service offered by possible suppliers in a benchmark. The decision was made in favor of the HF 3500 5-axis machining center from Heller. A concept that accommodated Dr. Carsten Binder with the 5th axis of the workpiece as well as its high dynamics. A further plus was the horizontal spindle which ensures the shortest possible chip-to-chip times and the provision of the follow-on tools during machining time: "Initially, we focused on a flexible machining center that was easy to automate and at the same time corresponded to the latest technologies for tool changes. We knew about the currently available concepts. In comparison, however, we were right away convinced by the HF 3500 machining center from Heller because of its additional counter bearing for the directly driven AB axis. However, our impression was also confirmed by Heller's commitment: We could run intensive tests in Nürtingen and were supported in programming the center. Another important point was the extensive customer service. Here too, Heller's record has always been positive in the past and that's why we decided in favor of the HF 3500, which is machine no. 8".

Heller Machining Center HF 3500

Transparency Appeals to Customers

Since then, production is carried out in a fully automated cell including a collaborating robot. The plant is now completely networked, access is possible via the intra- and internet. For example, Heller’s service regularly accesses machine condition data and schedules preventive maintenance and repair measures. Programs are uploaded from the network, workpiece and component drawings are uploaded to the monitor of the 24" touch screen via a document management system. In addition, measured values from every component are saved and stored during the process. A mode of operation that has been well received by the customer, right from the first inspection, and also gave Dr. Carsten Binder peace of mind: "The design of the machine, the control panel and the entire system make a very modern impression. But its inner values are even more convincing. Everyone defines the concept of Industry 4.0 differently. For us, the most important thing is easier machine operation and transparency within the network. Among other things, we can also trace processes in the event of complaints at any time and document the quality through data capturing. Our customer did not demand all of this, but in my experience these desires come at a certain point and then you are well positioned if you are already prepared for them".

Individually Optimized Efficiency and Productivity

The degree of this transparency is for instance shown by the increase in productivity at ZSO Zerspanungs- und Systemtechnik. Of course, the production cell is also equipped with a CAD/CAM system. Because only one component is produced on the HF 3500, the CAD/CAM system has not yet been used. Nevertheless, it has been optimized with the help with Heller. For this purpose, the functionalities of the HF 3500, in particular the tool change times, which can be set depending on weight and geometry, were adjusted. The optimization of tool change times for all tools involved in the process resulted in time savings of 16 seconds. In addition, Heller's engineers identified further potential to increase the efficiency of the machine. This commitment as well as the open communication with the responsible employees at Heller confirmed the trust placed in Heller and will therefore likely also promote further cooperation. The next Heller machining center is currently under negotiation.

This article was first published by SMM Schweizer MaschinenMarkt

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