Mach factors

In a few weeks’ time the NEC will host Mach 2006, the world’s window on UK expertise in engineering manufacturing. Mark Venables previews some of the exhibitors, plus seminars and workshops.


Mach 2006, recognised as the world’s window on UK expertise in engineering manufacturing, takes place at the NEC from Monday 15 May-Friday 19 May.

The bi-annual exhibition, organised by The Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), is the showcase representing the exceptional capabilities and innovation demonstrated by a broad range of machine and equipment manufacturers, importers and service providers to global manufacturing organisations.

The show offers UK and overseas buyers the opportunity to view a broad range of equipment and expertise across the manufacturing technologies sector. This year’s show has attracted over 500 exhibitors, and more than 20,000 visitors are expected. Alongside the exhibition there is a comprehensive programme of seminars, workshops and information exchange with participation from some of the UK‘s leading manufacturing companies. This year MACH has a special focus on what’s new in the world of manufacturing technologies.

The MTA, in partnership with the engineering sector team of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), is hosting a six-nation inward mission to the event.

Following a number of previous successful visits from overseas buyers, the event is growing in terms of its international significance. This mission is focusing on key buyers in the manufacturing and related sectors from Brazil, Russia, India, China, Turkey and Thailand — nations of ever-increasing importance in the manufacturing arena.

The MTA and UKTI will be supporting an international lounge at the event that will be a focal point for the mission’s participants. This will be close to the seminar stand and will offer free Wi-Fi internet access, an opportunity to hold meetings and network plus cloakroom facilities.

On display on the exhibition floor will be Yamazaki Mazak’s UN series of vertical and horizontal machining centres. These were developed following end-user demand for smaller machine footprint, to improve productivity by extending the number of machines a single operator can oversee from a much-reduced floorspace requirement.

By virtue of the machines’ mechanical design, the series is also creating opportunities for many small to medium-sized firms to expand without relocation expense. While the demand for ultra-narrow machines originated in Japan, where floorspace remains a premium, Yamazaki Mazak is increasingly aware that European customers need to deliver higher productivity from existing facilities.

For example, the UN-600V vertical machining centre measures just 695mm wide x 3200mm deep. However, the maximum component size that can be machined is 600mm dia x 500mm high, achieved by using a polar co-ordinate axis control system.

The UN-600H horizontal variant delivers the same machining capacity from a slightly wider footprint than the vertical machine; in this case the X-axis capacity is achieved by the use of two opposed X axes.

‘With vertical machines, using normal axis control, it is impossible to make a conventional machine width any narrower than at present,’ said Yamazaki Mazak UK sales director Tony Saunders. ‘The limiting factor is always the X-axis unit (column or table) which defines the X-axis movement. Mazak has overcome this by replacing the conventional X-axis with a C-axis and using the rotation of that axis in combination with the Y-axis to create a resulting X-axis movement.”

Fully interpolative, five-axis CNC machining is becoming increasingly popular for producing moulds and other complex components in a single clamping, due to higher accuracy, shorter machining times and lower production costs. New to this sector is the MU-500VA vertical machining centre from Japan‘s Okuma, represented in the UK by NCMT.

The machine distinguishes itself by offering a 1,000 rpm table, allowing components to be turned in conjunction with a static tool in the spindle. If this option is chosen, an HSK-A63 taper has to be specified instead of the standard 40-taper spindle.

The design is based on a fully integrated trunnion swivelling horizontally through +20 /-110o and carrying a 360o rotary table. They respectively add A and C axes to an X, Y, Z envelope of 1,250 x 660 x 540mm. Maximum weight of component that can be supported is 500kg.

It is the speed and accuracy of the direct-drive rotary axes that sets this machine apart from most. Even trunnion rotation is fast at 50rpm, which is the standard specification for the table, repeatability being 0.001o. Both rotary elements are robust, providing greater rigidity than add-on compound units.

Speed of operation extends to the linear axes, with 40m/min rapid traverse in X and Y, 32m/min in Z, the latter speed also being the maximum cutting feed rate throughout the entire working volume.

Spindle options are 11 or 22kW, delivering up to 15,000 rpm, while table drive for turning is rated at 15kW. There is also a choice of magazine capacity of 20, 32 or 48 stations, automatic tool change time being fast at 1.8 seconds.

New to MACH is CMS, the gantry section of its large high-performance five-axis CNC Poseidon machining centre and a small three-axis CNC waterjet from waterjet cutting technology specialist Technocut.

Based near Bergamo, Italy, CMS is a large group of companies specialising in the design and manufacture of high performance three and five-axis CNC machining centres for the aerospace, marine, motor sport and engineering sectors.

Typical applications include trimming of carbon fibre and composite materials and high-speed machining of patterns and models, in all non-ferrous materials.

The Poseidon, a large five-axis CNC centre, offers rigid construction, complete with high static shoulders and moving gantry with double rack — ensuring high levels of accuracy and reliability. A choice of spindle is available to suit end-user application ranging from 12-28kW. Its control system has the latest Fanuc digital system. Modular in design, the Poseidon’s large size, maximum 8,500 X axis, 65,000mm Y axis and 4,000mm Z axis travel ensure the machine is extremely flexible.

Its accuracy makes it ideal for such applications as machining patterns for boat hulls, automotive products, wind turbine blades and trimming complex aluminium and carbon fibre components for the aerospace industry. Recently a number of CMS Poseidon machines have been sold for heavy machining of structural precision aluminium components for the aerospace industry.