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Composite machine tool technology shortens the process chain

Improving production efficiency and vigorously saving production costs while ensuring quality are the goals that every production enterprise diligently pursues. This seemingly irreconcilable pair of contradictions can be resolved through the innovative technology of shortening the process chain.

In principle, there are four ways to improve efficiency: one is to improve the production efficiency of existing machine tools by optimizing cutting tools, process parameters or machine tool structures; the other is to replace existing processing methods with new processes; the third is to use parallel processing methods to improve output and shorten the processing time of workpieces; fourth, integrate multiple production processes into one machine tool to shorten the process chain. Machine tools that integrate different production processes are called combination machine tools, or “multifunctional machine tools.” The advantage of combined machine tools is that they can integrate several optimization methods mentioned earlier into one machine tool platform.

Because combined machine tools integrate turning, milling, and grinding processes, whether it is soft processing or hard processing, the advantages of shortening the process chain can be fully utilized. First, the use of combined machine tools eliminates the transportation and storage time of workpieces, shortens the time for changeover and non-machining, and the efficiency is remarkable. In addition, with the use of combined machine tools, even the most complex workpieces can be processed with only one clamping, so they can meet the highest quality requirements. Another advantage of combined machine tools is that they can make up for the shortcomings of a single process, and the deficiencies in a single process can be replaced by other processes, which can further improve efficiency.

EMAG’s VSC and VTC process platforms are typical processing examples. The VSC platform is specially designed for disc-type parts processing. In addition to the advantages of process integration, it also adopts the principle of inverted spindle loading and unloading. The workpiece is loaded and unloaded by itself through the workpiece spindle or machine tool axis, quickly and conveniently. Due to the inverted structure of the machine, chip removal is ideal. The configured turret, Y-axis, B-axis and fixed-mounted grinding wheel spindle increase the versatility of the machine tool. This type of machine tool can integrate turning, drilling, boring, milling, hobbing and internal and external cylindrical grinding processes into one machine, so one machine can replace multiple traditional single machines, which not only saves expensive workpiece conveying systems, but also significantly shortens the process chain and Workpiece processing pass time.

The VTC series is a combined processing machine tool for shaft parts, used for simultaneous processing or sequential processing of shaft parts. This type of machine tool also has the advantage of high flexibility, integrating turning, drilling, boring, milling and grinding processes into one machine.

Mature technology that has been proven in practice

There are numerous examples of the successful application of multi-functional machine tools in production practice, and the small crankshaft production line is one of them. According to the current technical level, the soft processing of the crankshaft machining line generally consists of six machine tools, which perform end face processing, center hole drilling, rough turning, and oil hole drilling. EMAG’s production plan only requires three machine tools of the VTC and HSC series to complete the above processing. The entire process from end face machining to turning can be realized on one VTC250DUOED machine tool. Connecting rod shaft diameter machining and oil hole drilling are completed on the other two machine tools of the HSC and VTC series.

Another example of the application of multi-function machine tools is the use of self-loading and unloading dual-spindle multi-function machine tools to process gears. When arranging the soft machining process of the transmission gear for this dual-spindle machine tool, the design engineers arranged the turning, hobbing, and rolling deburring steps of the first and second sides of the gear so seamlessly that there was almost no pause time for the spindle. The efficiency reaches the extreme, and the advantages of turning and rolling combined machine tools are brought into full play.

Manufacturing planetary gears is another application case of process integration. When processing planetary gears, the VSC400DUOWF dual-spindle combined machine tool is used. The designers have made the most reasonable distribution of the simultaneous processing content of the two spindles. The processing that originally required seven clampings can now be completed with only three clampings.

The process of combined processing of planetary gears with radial holes is introduced as follows:

1. The first spindle turns the first surface: rough machining of inner and outer circles, finishing of inner circles, and grooving by sinking.

2. Flip

3. The first spindle turns the second surface: rough machining of internal and external circles

4. Finishing and processing of cylindrical grooves

5. The workpiece is transported to the second spindle

6. Gear hobbing, measuring tooth grooves, drilling radial holes, deburring grooves and holes

These machining steps demonstrate the clear advantages of multifunctional machine tools. In the past, drilling oil holes in the tooth slots needed to be completed by adding an indexing device to the machining center. Now it is completed through the directional drilling technology of the combined machine tool, which not only shortens the process chain, but also saves costs significantly.

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