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Five-axis machining reduces setups, saves time.

Aero-Space Tooling & Machining Inc, a contract machine shop in Salt Lake City, UT, uses a five-axis universal milling and boring machine to machine complex components in a single setup.

The firm produces aircraft parts, armament for fighter craft, missile parts, and complex, spheroid components for satellites using CNC lathes, milling machines, and special-purpose machine tools.

"For the aerospace parts we make, our most productive machine tool," says president Rolf Salm, "is a full, five-axis universal milling and boring machine built by Maho (Naugatuck, CT). It lets us, in some instances, machine an entire complex component in only one setup."

Mr Salm points to a fin-shaped part as an example of the firm's five-axis work. It's a mold structure for the propellant section of a rocket motor, a part that has only one surface that is perpendicular to the center axis of the part itself. All the other surfaces are either radial or tapered angles.

"The programmable table on the Maho tilts and rotates," says Mr Salm, "so we are able to use all five axes, with simultaneous interpolation, to precisely machine all the surfaces. The machine has both a horizontal and a vertical spindle which we use interchangeably. This is especially useful since the surfaces all blend down into a stepped bottom configuration. We use a sculpture program for this section to create the critical radii needed for perfect blending."

Without the five-axis universal machine, says Mr Salm, the part would require a different setup for each surface and additional setups for the sculpturing of the bottom radii. On the Maho, all the machining except the bottom section is completed in just one setup.

A total of nine fins were produced-seven were identical and two required slightly different contours. Mr Salm estimates up to 30 hours were saved in setup and machining time, and as many as six setups were saved using the Maho machine. True positioning of 0.005" for all surface contouring was achieved.

Programming the machine, according to Mr Salm, is a matter of thinking what can be done with five axes of motion, instead of the conventional three or four axes. After establishing the zero point of the part, all machining is done automatically off that one point. The zero point is often established at the center of the fixture, according to Mr Salm.

"The rotary and the tilting axes are then programmed in relationship to that zero point. In five-axis machining, we consider two of the axes to be 'slave axes' to the total axis, maintaining precision throughout the most complex machining operations. Once the operator understands this, everything else falls into place. Right now, 60% of all our programming is done right at the machine.

"We save time," says Mr Salm, "which means money, and we eliminate human error common to multiple setups, and that eliminates scrap."

For more information from Maho Machine Tool Corp, Naugatuck, CT, circle 271.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Manufacturing Solutions
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Words:485
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