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Machine tool life-cycle.


The life-cycle of every living organism or any artificial product can be described by a life-cycle diagram. This diagram shows all phases of described object. We usually describe whole product life-cycle starting with first ideas and suggestions, designing, production, using and finishing with disposal in case of technical objects life-cycle.

The shape and complexity of an artificial product life-cycle depends on its features, complicatedness, working life etc. The basic diagram of a technical product life-cycle with regard to material recycling is shown at Fig. 1.

The general life-cycle diagram of any technical product has similar progress in most cases. It can be divided into three basic phases. At the first is always product creation, it is followed by product using and at the end product disposal.


Machine tools are one of the few products that can also pass through the retrofitting and another machine tool using stage between the first using and disposal stages. Difference between life-cycle of common technical product and machine tool is shown on Fig. 2.

Machine tool retrofitting is a process which task is to fix all parts and modernize machine tool by applying additional automation technique. We can achieve higher machine accuracy, improvement of machine performance, modernization of linear axis and modern control and measuring systems after retrofitting phase (Marek, 2006).


Every machine tool which passes through the retrofitting stage can be used like a new machine with regard to concurrent machine performance and older machine conception.

Unfortunately, only few percentage of machine tools pass through the retrofitting phase. The most modernize machines are usually bigger machine tools such as horizontal boring machines, vertical lathes, grinding machines and some smaller machines which are favored by customers such as simple lathes or milling machines.

Importance of retrofitting phase will probably increase in future when will be more place emphasis on environment (old casts can be used repeatedly) and in time when come down iron stone level which is the main raw material for steel production.

It is not easy to prepare general model of a detailed machine tool life-cycle. There are a lot of differences that particularly depend on machine tool features and product functions.

The machine tool life-cycle can be consequently divided into three eventually five basic phases. All this phases fluently follow previous phase and it is not possible to change sequence of them.

Machine tool disposal usually follows customer using stage in case that nobody is interesting in machine after retrofitting. More detailed machine tool life cycle is shown on Fig. 3.



Designing process influence on the machine tool production was researched in TOSHULIN Company (producer of vertical lathes). There was fond out that designers have 67% influence on final machine costs (Marek, 2007).

Designing process is one of the initial steps of machine tool life-cycle that follows from Fig. 3. It connects to the first market research and its inputs are particularly customer and marketing requirements. It is not possible to produce and sell any kind of machine without designing step thus the designing process has privileged status in life-cycle of any product (Dosedla, 2008).

Not only machine tools but most of current products are very complicated therefore development of those products is not easy process. Development phase is often the most complicated phase of the product life-cycle therefore it usually takes long time with high costs (Dosedla, 2008).

Important role of designing process shows feedbacks on Fig. 3. Every company department should collaborate with other departments. For designers is very important to get all information from each phase that follow designing step. This information is important for improving of future product design. Thus designing phase has a high influence on all previous and following phases of the machine tool lifecycle. Level of this influence is shown on Fig. 4.


Planning--In order to get a design task witch consider designing and manufacturing abilities of a particular company designer should oppose often unreal marketing and customer requirements during the first marketing ideas creation.

Realization--Designer has a main influence on final complexity of machine tool, used materials, components and styling of the machine. The shape of part, heat treatment and purchased components often depends only on designers.

Distribution--Success of any machine tools usually depends on many aspects. Designer has a high influence on many of those e.g. reliability, machine styling and machine performance etc.

Machine using--This phase of machine life-cycle is usually the longest one. It can takes a lot of years. Many properties of machine e.g. reliability, noise level and ergonomic are shown and tested by customer during the machine using. All these aspects are also influenced by designers.

Retrofitting--As already mentioned above this phase passes through only a small percentage of old machine tools. Probably nobody supposes that his machine will be modernized in future. Generally machines that are suitable for future retrofitting have a timeless conception and good rigidity design of main machine parts.

Disposal--Ecologic disposal is a very important phase of the machine tool life-cycle at this time. Designer's selection of using materials and lubrication type has a high influence on difficulty of the machine disposal in future.


We can approach not only to machine tools life-cycle but also to other products form an economic point of view. Quantity of sold machines depends on many aspects that have an influence on machine success on market. These aspects are particularly machine performance, rigidity and reliability but also not least machine styling, price and delivery time.

We can divide the machine tool life-cycle up to five phases from the economic point of view (Product development, Introduction, Growth, Maturity, Decline) (Lasse & Pesonen, 2001).

We can recognize all these five phases during almost every product life-cycle. We can also find this life-cycle about particularly smaller machine tools. See Fig. 5.



The machine tool has very prestige position at concurrent machines market (Marek 2007) thus is important to deal with definition of the detailed machine tool life-cycle.

Machine tool is one of the few types of machines that can pass through the retrofitting and another using stage before final machine disposal. Especially bigger size milling and turning machines after retrofitting are very popular by concurrent customers.

Unfortunately it is not possible in order every machine tool could also pass through the retrofitting stage. There are some recommendations that could help to design new machine that can be easily retrofitted in the future:

* Timeless machine structure

* Simple machine design

* Utilization of modern materials and knowledge

* Application of new purchased components

* Utilization of high-quality casts and weldments

* High performance machine production


Dosedla, M. (2008). Systhematic approach for machine tool designing--Doctoral thesis summary. Brno University of Technology, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Brno

Lasse, T. & Pesonen, T. (2001). Implementation of design to profit in a complex and dynamicbusiness context, OULUN YLIOPISTO, OULU 2001, ISBN 951-42-6450-9

Marek, J. (2007). Integrated product development. Technical University of Ostrava, ISBN 978-80-248-1572-5

Marek, J. (2006). CNC machine tools designing. MM Prumyslove spektrum, ISSN 1212-2572

Siemens AG. (2008). Product life-cycle. Available from:
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Author:Dosedla, Michal
Publication:Annals of DAAAM & Proceedings
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EUAU
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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