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Productivity in higher volumes.

Productivity in higher volumes

The main emphasis in machining centers at IMTS will be new levels of speed and accuracy, significant improvements from just two years ago. As a result of this, machining centers are now moving into higher-volume applications. "Their inherent flexibility has been enhanced by performance improvements in speed, accuracy, and reliability," says Mazak President, Brian Papke. "With the machining center becoming increasingly accepted in higher-volume applications, the door is opening for a whole new market for us."

Today's spindles reflect this new productivity. Mazak will be demonstrating high-performance cuts with their new high-speed spindles--25,000 rpm on 40-taper horizontal machines, and 15,000-rpm spindles on 50-taper machines. "These machines are making increased cutting rates really attractive," he adds. "Now that 32-bit processing is becoming almost a standard, this has opened the door for these high spindle speeds, traverse rates as rapid as 1200 ipm, higher feed rates, increased use of simultaneous functions, etc. All this has increased the machine's productivity and suggests higher-volume applications."

Another trend he sees is greater use of integral motors and spindles. "With the motor and spindle one unit, the benefits are higher speeds, greater accuracy, simplicity, reliability, and generally improved cutting capability."

Multiple-station pallet changers are gaining popularity. Until recently, Mr Papke notes, relatively few people were using them. "Today it's a standard machine option. A lot of our machines are now purchased with six-, eight-, or ten-station pallet changers."

Cells are strong

Also important is the contribution of standard modules to the growing popularity of machining cells. "Cells are becoming an extension of standard machines, rather than something unique that requires special engineering. Control modules, stacker systems, machine compatibility, etc--all of these things have now been engineered to work well together in a cell, eliminating special engineering development charges or delivery delays. Cells can be put together quickly--the simpler cells can be installed and be up and running on a three-shift basis within a month. Their reliability and cost effectiveness make them easy to assimilate and produce a fast return on investment."

Although the best test of a machine remains its ability to cut your actual parts, Mr Papke is enthused about improvements in machining accuracy. "Today's machines are perhaps three times more accurate than machines of five years ago. There are fewer and fewer parts that a machining center can't do, and less need for special-purpose machines. Most of the parts that used to require jig-bore accuracy can now be done on a machining center.

"But," he adds, "accuracy is only one criteria. Another is speed. Another is reliability. You must put all of these together in the total package.

"Amazingly," he continues, "these advances in productivity do not mean a corresponding advance in machine cost. You can buy a machine today with far more productivity than a machine of five years ago, yet pay only slightly higher prices.

"Our belief is that, because technology is changing at a much faster rate, machines can be replaced much sooner than they would have been in the past. The machine can still run for 10 to 20 years, but because of productivity advances, users can justify a change much sooner than that."

As the industry becomes increasingly globalized, it is becoming as important for users to analyze who they are buying from, in addition to studying the machine itself. "You want somebody with a strong commitment, someone who will be there to service that machine years from now. So we are putting strong emphasis on the support side of our business, and people are measuring that support--our spare parts capability, what our service organization looks like, etc. Today, we have 14 technical centers scattered throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico."

PHOTO : Brian J Papke President Mazak Corp Florence, KY
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Title Annotation:machining centers
Publication:Tooling & Production
Article Type:Interview
Date:Aug 1, 1990
Previous Article:Flexible machining systems & cells.
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