Modern Machine Shop

SEP 2018

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Modern Machine Shop 75 Machine Accessories provide the fourth and fifth axes of rotation. The shop already had some machines from Okuma (Charlotte, North Carolina), and the familiarity played a role in the decision. In the four years since the first purchase, GCG has acquired six additional machines with five- axis capabilities. It added the last four in less than a year's span. Mr. Gardner says there are clear benefits to standardizing in such a way. All of the shop's employees know how to run all of the machines. The risk of error is reduced because they only need to know one type of machine, and they have become familiar with it. Using the same type of machine has the added benefit of enabling operators to run the same part programs on any of the machines. According to Mr. Gardner, the table-on-table configuration has several benefits for GCG over a true five-axis machine. For one, he says it gives the shop "a lot more bang for our buck," as it is a more affordable solution than a dedicated five- axis machine. The shop specializes in small parts, and the rotary table along with two vises and a tool probe fit on the machine's main table. In some cases, five sides of a part can be machined using the rotary table and then the part can be f lipped and loaded in a vise to complete machining of the sixth side. Also, given its specialization, the shop never needs to take the rotary tables out of the machines to make room for large parts on the table. Mr. Gardner says the Lyndex-Nikken rotary tables are also beneficial in that their clamping system is hydraulically actu- ated instead of being actuated with compressed air, meaning they offer higher holding force and rigidity during cuts. This solution also gives the shop the ability to do full five-axis contour machining as well as five-axis positioning. Mr. Gardner says that one of the most important factors in choosing the Okuma machine was that its control enabled full, simultaneous five-axis contouring. Although it mostly uses the machines for "3+2" five-axis positioning, the shop wanted the f lexibility to be able to do full five-axis machining as well. "It made sense to spend a little more to have the ability to do that," he says. While virtually all the current work that GCG does requires only five-axis positioning, it has run full-five-axis tool paths on some of its jobs. That capability opens the possibility to pursue more contouring work in the future. Because GCG does mostly five-axis positioning, Mr. Gardner says the transition has been relatively easy for the shop in terms of the GCG purchased its first M560-V with touch-trigger probing equipment from Renishaw. The shop did not include it on its second machine because the first job it ran on the machine did not require its use.

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