Multi-tasking machining centre

A new machine at the Nuclear AMRC will provide a research platform for a variety of machining applications

Posted on 16 Feb 2017 and read 1423 times
25 MWC 5291The installation of a Heckert HEC machining centre will allow the Nuclear AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) to undertake comparative milling, drilling and turning routines in a single set-up on a wide variety of test workpieces at its Sheffield-based site.

Because the machine has an integrated horizontal/vertical head — mechanically locked by a Hirth coupling — it offers a multi-tasking capability that will be put to full use in the Centre’s research for improved efficiency and quality in exploratory machining experiments, as well as the manufacture of test components for subsequent electron beam welding and weld preparation.

Supplied by Birmingham-based Starrag UK Ltd ( — a Tier One partner of both the Nuclear AMRC and the AMRC with Boeing — the HEC 800 HV MT has a swing of 1,400mm and axis strokes in X, Y and Z of 1,450mm, 1,100mm and 1,300mm, respectively It features a maximum feed rate is 65m/min, which is also the rapid-traverse rate.

The 30kW main spindle offers a maximum speed of 6,000rev/min; there are also twin pallets, each with a load capacity of 2,000kg. These are balanced for turning operations at up to 500rev/min, and they are complemented by automatic out-of-balance detection and weight-setting software.

Carl Hitchens, head of machining and metrology at the Nuclear AMRC, says: “Because the HEC 800 HV MT has an integrated multi-use machining head and turning table, our ability to orientate tools from the vertical to the horizontal will allow us to investigate swarf management and eliminate swarf clearance problems during manufacture.

“The machine will also allow us to fully investigate drilling performance with and without through-tool coolant at a pressure of 80 bar.”

Tangential turning

Mr Hitchens also says that another key feature of the machine is its tangential-turning capability. “This allows the milling spindle, when using a turning tool in conjunction with control of its rotation (to always maintain the appropriate approach angle) and synchronised with X- and Y-axis movements, to produce turned flange faces and multi-diameter internal/external turned features, thereby negating the need for a facing-head attachment.

“This will be indispensable when machining valves in a single operation, for example. Moreover, having a robust and accurate machine that offers a positional accuracy of 0.006mm and can undertake a variety of machining tasks in any orientation means that we can investigate a variety of machining strategies, confident that we are working from a known and precise location.”

Mr Hitchens says the machine will be used on a range of heavy-duty machining tasks, allowing the 40-strong team of machining engineers and researchers at the Nuclear AMRC to fulfil their aim of ‘enhancing the capabilities and competitiveness of the UK’s civil nuclear manufacturing industry and helping British companies to compete for nuclear contracts world-wide’.

Mr Hitchens says he expects the team — whose work is primarily targeted at one-off high-value, high-precision and bespoke manufacturing projects, such as full-scale reactor internal parts, as well as other high-value engineering components — to capitalise on all the HEC 800 HV MT’s features.

These include Brankamp tool-collision monitoring and Artis tool monitoring, along with adaptive-control functionality designed to optimise tool life and cycle times.

The HEC 800 HV MT joins a number of other Starrag-supplied machines at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Yorkshire: these include a Heckert HEC 1800 machining centre and a Dörries VC 5000 MC V vertical turning lathe with five-axis milling head at the Nuclear AMRC; plus a Starrag ZT 1000 machining centre, a Scharmann EcoSpeed 2538, a Starrag STC1250 machining centre and a Starrag LX051 five-axis machining centre at the AMRC with Boeing.

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