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To increase efficiency, Hyde Tool has replaced the motor spindle on one of its five-axis machining centres with a higher-speed version from Swiss manufacturer, Ibag.

Retrofitted by Emmaco UK, the 24,000rev/min spindle allows the tier 1 aerospace supplier to reduce cycle times by optimising cutting parameters across a variety of materials.

They range from aluminium through various steels (including stainless) to titanium alloys.

Hyde Tools specialises in the design and manufacture of form tools, jig tooling for wing assembly, plus lay-up tools for composite component production.

The complexity of many of the components it produces together with tight drawing tolerances of typically 50 micron necessitate the use of fully interpolative five-axis machining.

Hyde Tool operates four five-axis machining centres, the largest of which is a Cyport CP gantry mill with 3m x 2m table from German machine tool builder, Edel.

It was this machine that required a replacement spindle, as the original spindle had failed due to internal failure of the coolant seals that seal off the water used to control the temperature of the spindle, causing corrosion and ultimately failure.

Mark Caldwell, works manager at Hyde Tool, said: ‘We did not want to return to the machine manufacturer for a replacement spindle, as we thought that the original was unnecessarily complicated, so we looked at various repair options and at new spindles from independent suppliers.

‘As soon as we made contact with Ibag agent Emmaco the company’s approach convinced us to drop all other options and give them the task of repairing the Edel machine.

‘The job was particularly challenging, as after evaluating the project, Emmaco advised that there would be difficulties with the supply of OEM parts,’ he added.

Emmaco’s managing director, Ian Baker, worked jointly with Hyde Tool engineers to resolve the problems.

The retrofitted Ibag HF 170 high-frequency cartridge spindle was an off-the-shelf item, but the Edel machine needed modification to fully accept the spindle mounting and supplies for the spindle.

The Z-axis travel was also extended to allow use of the existing toolchanger without modification.

Emmaco undertook turnkey responsibility for the refurbishment.

The failed spindle was removed and the five-axis head stripped down, which revealed further corrosion and failure of internal parts.

Many of the parts/seals were non-standard and had to be specially manufactured.

The C-axis drive motor that rotates the head through +/-360deg also needed repair, as it had been damaged due to failure of the rotary seals.

Further remedial work involved fitting a new coolant refrigeration unit and fault switch.

Ian Baker said: ‘We are often approached by companies with old machines that are mechanically sound but which have, say, a 4,000 to 8,000rev/min belt-driven motor that is unable to take full advantage of modern tooling technology.

‘We are able to fit a replacement spindle offering typically 20,000 to 45,00 rev/min, so the user gets a high-speed machining centre for the cost of a new spindle.

‘It is not uncommon either for a user of a fairly modern machine tools to approach a third-party manufacturer such as Ibag for a replacement spindle, as the one fitted as standard is normally a compromise that allows a spread of machining applications to be satisfied.

‘However, the user might want to maximise productivity by selecting a speed range and torque profile that better suits the materials being cut.

‘A bespoke spindle may also enable high-torque roughing as well as high-speed finishing to be carried out in one machine, saving the cost of buying a second machine,’ he added.

Ibag is able to supply high-accuracy motor spindles for practically any requirement, not only in terms of physical size and power output but also with the motor wound to deliver the optimum speed-torque profile for any given application.

Features of the Swiss manufacturer’s HF-series of vector-controlled motor spindles include ceramic or specialist hybrid bearings, grease packed or minimal oil/air lubrication, water cooling, axial shaft displacement sensors for CNC machine compensation, thermal sensors for measurement of bearing and motor temperatures, vibration monitoring, tool position sensors – digital/analogue and through-tool coolant.

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