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Five-axis machining and automation in the spotlight

Posted on 11 Mar 2024 and read 1106 times
Five-axis machining and automation in the spotlightA Hurco ProCobot will be on display at MACH 2024, loading and unloading a three-axis VM20i vertical machining centre

Hurco Europe Ltd’s prismatic machining equipment will take centre stage on the company’s stand at MACH 2024, which is taking place 15-19 April at the NEC, Birmingham (Hall 6, Stand 180). The focus will be on five-axis machining as well as automation of both three-axis and five-axis vertical machining centres (VMCs).

There will be a Hurco ProCobot Profeeder assisting the production of components on a VM20i three-axis VMC and an Erowa Robot Compact 80 feeding a VMX30Ui trunnion-type five-axis machine.
The ProCobot picks and places components and removes them after machining, with the app running directly in the Max 5 control and visible on the screen. Minimal information needs to be entered to set a job, so changeover time can be as rapid as 30min, making plug-and-play, small-batch automation a reality. The Erowa cell, on the other hand, transfers the workholding as well as the part on a pallet. The choice of system depends on the application. Both solutions lend themselves well to Hurco’s typical customers, which tend to undertake small to medium batch runs.

Hurco SRTi five-axis VMCs are popular because they have a swivelling spindle head and flush rotary table, a configuration that can be used as a five-axis production centre or a three-axis machine that exploits the full working volume. A VMX42SRTi with X, Y and Z travels of 1,067 x 610 x 610mm will represent this range at MACH 2024. It has directly-encoded torque motors driving both the B-axis spindle and C-axis table. Linear scales and a 20-bar through-coolant spindle are standard features.

Easy operator access

Another Hurco five-axis machining centre at the exhibition will be the cantilever-type VC500i. Ergonomically designed for easy operator access, it has a 520 x 450 x 400mm working volume and a ±100deg swivelling trunnion carrying a rotary table, ideal for machining five faces of a component in a single set up. As with any five-axis centre, it drastically reduces the number of separate operations needed to completely machine a part compared with using a three-axis machine.

Hurco 2Pictured right: to be demonstrated also will be the solid model import option in Hurco’s proprietary WinMax software powering the twin-screen control as well as the single-screen Max 5

A VMX60Ti three-axis VMC equipped with a rotary-tilt table will demonstrate the versatility of this alternative five-axis machining arrangement, particularly for prismatic machining of shaft-type components. Capital cost can be saved, as a smaller capacity machine can often be selected compared with if a dedicated five-axis machining centre were to be used.

In addition to the popular three-axis VM10i, which combines a small footprint with the capacity (660 x 406 x 508mm) and performance (11kW/12,000rev/min) of a big three-axis machining centre, there will be a VM ONE three-axis VMC with a smaller Z-axis travel of 356mm. It addresses a need, especially among sub-contractors, for an entry-level machine that is super-compact, yet still capable of producing prismatic parts weighing up to 1,500kg.

Powered by proprietary WinMax software, the Max5 control includes a solid model import option that allows 3+2 routines to be programmed on the shopfloor from an IGES CAD model imported as a STEP file. It is fast, uncomplicated and takes the load off manufacturers’ CAM stations. The CNC system supports both conversational programming via a colour LCD touchscreen and/or input of NC code generated off-line, with merging of the two sets of data achieved via an NC Merge function.

For the last 20 years, Hurco Europe has been sole agent in the UK and the Republic of Ireland for sales of German-built Roeders machining centres. A five-axis, ±115deg trunnion, HSK E40 model will be on the Hurco stand capable of machining workpieces weighing up to 60kg within a 500 x 500 x 300mm working volume. The RXP501DS achieves very fine surface finish on components thanks to its extremely rigid, 7-tonne construction combined with a 42,000rev/min spindle and advanced control software.

Hurco 3Pictured left: the rigid, 7-tonne Roeders RXP501DS five-axis machining centre

Such production centres are frequently used for rotary die manufacture, micro-machining, bottle mould manufacture and jig grinding. An applications engineer from Germany will be available on the Hurco stand throughout the show to discuss specific applications.

A new range of four driven-tool CNC turning centres was launched by Hurco at the last MACH show, during which the 8in chuck version was exhibited. This year it is the turn of the 10in chuck variant to appear, the TMX10MYSi. All models include a programmable W-axis to position the tailstock or sub-spindle.

The turning centres offer higher specification and performance than the established and popular TMi and TMMi models. The major differences are higher power and speed plus a larger, heavier machine frame and the addition of a Y-axis to allow more versatile machining.

The servo-driven turret carries 12 VDI 40 radial tools, rather than axial tools as on the/TM Mi range. Each station offers a maximum rotational speed of 5,000rev/min and a peak output of 6.3kW at 2,190rev/min. Hurco’s control software allows the manufacturer’s proprietary conversational routines to be used for milling operations, making the package very attractive for small-volume production.

Two smaller capacity Hurco CNC lathes with a chuck capacity of 8in will be also be on show — the TM8i and the TM8Mi with axial driven tools. The latest models have a larger spindle bore than their predecessors, as well as roller guideways and a more compact footprint. The improved control features concurrent programming, estimated runtime, error check and recovery restart, and enhanced performance during rigid tapping.