Intrex Aerospace Multi-Axis MachiningAug 01, 2022
Intrex Aerospace continues to make significant investments in higher levels of technology. Our latest investment in machine tools is a DMG/Mori NTX 2500 with 80 tool ATC.
Thanks to advances in control, software and servo technology, this machine can perform work requiring up to 5 axis machining, simultaneously, in a single work-holding setup. Multi-axis machining is well suited for much aerospace machining. This style of machine requires less operator intervention, which reduce the opportunity for operator errors, while increasing operating efficiencies. The NTX series machine can produce high quality precision machined components, in low to medium volumes, ideal for our aerospace, defense, and space customers.
Defining 2-3-4 and 5 axis machining?
Early CNC lathes machines offered movement in two linear axes (X, and Z) and three linear axes (X, Y, and Z) for machining centers. Thanks to improvements in machine and servo technology, CNC lathes offered a third axis (Y), which gave the machine milling capability above and below the spindle centerline. CNC machine centers added a 4th axis (C or A, depending, if it is a horizontal or vertical machine center). Our latest machine tool addition is a DMG Mori 2500 that has full five axis capabilities. The term “5-axis” refers to the number of directions in which the cutting and workpiece tool can move. Simultaneously. On a 5-axis machine, the cutting tool moves across the X, Y and Z linear axes as well as rotates on the A and B axes to approach the workpiece from any direction.
Comparing 2-3-4-5 axis machines setups as % of gain
Comparing 2-3-4 axis versus 5-axis machining centers, usually means reduction in the number of setups, and time on complex parts of up to 60%. Fewer setups and shorter setup times mean less operator intervention and part handling,
Can you add automation to 5 axis machines?
The DMG/Mori 2500 style of machine can also lend itself to unattended/lights-out machining. An automated operation can greatly reduce the number of needed operators. Skilled operators are difficult to find. Additional automation gives 5-axis productivity an even greater boost – up to 70% more parts per shift. DMG MORI’s palletization system simplifies workpiece handling and setup in the machine while ensuring part location accuracy. The unattended operation can be a bonus possibility for running nights and weekends.
Machine Design Improvements
Because of the improvement in rigidity, reduces tool change times, and overall process /servo control, we can expect higher precision and tooling control. This also improves cycle time reductions of up to 30 %. The overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), productivity, also leads to better profitability.
Advantages of 5 axis style machines
- Ability to machine complex shapes – The major (and most well-known) advantage of five-axis machining is ability to machine complex shapes, while minimizing the number of chucking or fixturing positions. The additional axes creates machining angles and arcs for the cutting tool and for chip relief, that were only previously possible with a multitude of special fixtures or additional setups.
- Improved Tool Life – Improved tool life and cycle time, as a result of being able to program the tool and/or table which enables the machine to maintain optimum cutting position and constant chip load.
- Fewer Setups – Five-axis machines can machine nearly every visible surface, excluding the bottom or clamping area. This ability significantly reduces the need for multiple setups or special fixtures. Depending on the workpiece, in some instances, you can reduce the number of setups to one. By reducing part setups, 5-axis machines also reduce setup errors and, depending on multiple variables, can provide up to 25% higher part accuracy. Fewer setups also make it easier to blend machining (visual steps) on all sides of a block without requiring the operator to manually shift the workpiece. Better finishes mean less secondary finishing (benching) too. Five-axis machines can machine nearly every visible surface, excluding the bottom or clamping area. This ability significantly reduces the need for multiple setups or special fixtures. Depending on the workpiece, in some instances, you can reduce the number of setups to one.
- Tolerance stack-up (imprecision), is one of the results and challenges, every time you have to re-chuck or re-fixture the workpiece. Once a part comes out of the machine, precise alignment is lost. By using the same zero or home location, feature-to-feature accuracy is improved. Aviation – aerospace components often feature complex contours and geometries and are produced in high-cost, difficult-to-machine alloys that must meet exact tolerances and finishes, making geometric dimensioning and tolerance (GD&T) control critical.
Lower specialized tools/work-holding costs
- Since the machining center rotates the workpiece to access multiple sides of the component, fewer specialized tools (e.g., extra-long drills or cutters) are needed to reach otherwise difficult to access areas. By optimizing tool reach and geometries, chatter is reduced, tools run faster and more accurately, fewer setups are needed, and tooling requirements for a given job can be halved. Also, work-holding costs can similarly be reduced when moving from 3- to 5-axis machining.
If you have outsourcing needs for complex machined components in a variety of materials, we would like to speak to you. Please visit or contact page and we promise to be prompt in our response.