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High-speed machining from solid stock.

The enormous metal removal capabilities of high-speed machining make machining from solid stock a practical alternative to using castings, simplifying parts processing, and producing significant cost and time savings. That's the opinion of Greg Hyatt, applications engineer for high-speed machining, LeBlond Makino, Mason, OH, who sees machining from solid stock replacing castings to improve quality, reduce WIP, and shortcut the way to JIT for a wide variety of industries.

For the defense and electronics industries, Applied Engineering, a Yankton, ND, specialty machine shop, carves parts from solids for precision machining of complex, precision aluminum parts. Applied Engineering uses a high-speed machining cell comprising four LeBlond Makino MC-series horizontal machining centers fitted with 15,000 rpm jet 50 spindles to eliminate castings by machining parts straight from solid stock.

"We machine from plate or bar stock instead of castings, resulting in more defect-free parts to help our customer, who was having long-term problems with castings in terms of quality and delivery," explains Ed Fricke, Applied Engineering owner and president. "Raw material is generally free of the voids and other defects that can occur in castings, and porosity problems, for example, can play havoc with tin or silver plating," Mr Fricke says.

Machining from solid stock saves customers the cost and time of building models and dies, he points out, while simplifying logistics for assuring JIT schedules and production.

The high-speed machining cell processes parts three to five times faster at 30% to 40% lower costs than conventional machining operations, he claims. Feedrates of 300 ipm generate enough chips per spindle to fill a 55-gal drum per hour. The LeBlond Makino MC86 and MC98 HMCs in the cell hold [+ or -]0.00" standard tolerance even while feeding at 300 ipm. By comparison, the shop's conventional 7000 rpm machine tools must drop feedrates to 25-40 ipm to maintain the same accuracy levels.

LeBlond Makino recommended machining from solid stock to a major automotive parts producer for aluminum ABS brake manifolds because porosity is a concern. The manifolds are being machined from square stock in highly automated LeBlond Makino "modular" machining cells built around the A55 horizontal machining centers and robot guided vehicle (RGV) pallet delivery at 120 m/min.

"Solid stock eliminates any possibility of hydraulic leakage from porosity in the castings," says Mr Hyatt, who headed the application engineering on LeBlond Makino's turnkey project team for the prototype ABS machining cell.

Advances in high-speed machining and tooling technology allow machining from solid with harder materials, such as cast iron. The method could become viable for cylinder heads or could also be applied to extruded shapes or simplified castings, which allow a family of parts to be machined from the same cast shape. By starting closer to net shape than standard plate and bar stock, overall machining time and metal removal would be reduced.

"The other, pretty much unknown but exciting phenomenon about high-speed machining, is that tangential load on the tool goes down as rpm and surface footage goes up," says Mr Hyatt.

High feedrates allow material to be removed as quickly as it is being heated. Most of the heat exists with the ejected chips, minimizing heat absorption by the part. This avoids thermal growth to allow finer details and tolerances.

Greater machining consistency and accuracy are achieved by reducing cutting forces, hence fewer sources of error from deflection of workpiece, fixture, cutting tool, or machine tool.

For Information from LeBlond Makino, Mason, OH, circle 240.
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Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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