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A five-axis machining centre, supplied by Geo Kingsbury Machine Tools, has improved production and reduced floor-to-floor time at the Plymouth factory of Gleason Cutting Tools.

The Hermle C 50 U five-axis machine was chosen because of its large working volume, which allows the biggest Gleason cutter to be produced.

Gleason also selected this German-built machine because it includes an HSK A 100 spindle option.

It allows extended tooling to be used, providing sufficient clearance between the toolholder and the workpiece for the gear cutting blades to be milled without interference when the component is held vertically.

According to section supervisor Jason Norsworthy, other factors taken into account during the purchase were the competitive price of the machine and its perceived longevity.

The end product shipped from Plymouth is often not a complete cutter but a boxed set of 15 or 16 curved steel segments carrying the cutting blades.

An automotive gear manufacturer bolts the segments to an existing core disc when the previous segments have dulled.

They start life as a length of tool steel bar, from which up to 10mm of tool steel is removed by the rigid 60kW spindle of the C 50 U, which also has the precision to complete relatively demanding profiling operations to the required accuracy.

For some machining operations, the trunnion carrying the table and the workpiece is swung through 90 degrees and clamped so that the table and component are vertical.

Productivity is high, owing in part to the 6m/s2 acceleration and rapid traverse rates of 60m/min in the X and Y axes and 55m/min in the Z axis.

Control is provided by a Heidenhain iTNC 530 enabled for Profibus digital communication and networking to Gleason’s Pro/Engineer computer-aided-design/computer-aided-manufacturing (CAD/CAM) system.

Now that the process has been established, the entire line is scheduled to be shipped to the parent company’s headquarters in Illinois during the first half of 2010.

Engineers from the UK will be employed in the US for several weeks to ensure correct installation, the transfer of knowledge and a smooth handover.

Geo Kingsbury Machine Tools

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