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A five-axis machining centre at Mikron’s development manufacturing facility is being used to machine a range of high-precision, complex prototype and production F1 engine parts and components.

Originally purchased to five-axis (simultaneously) machine a series of complex (cylinder head) development parts – the HPM 800U machine, with its fast, accurate and high stock removal capabilities, has been used to manufacture a number of performance-critical parts for F1 engines.

‘The machine tools we invest in have to be versatile and have to give us manufacturing flexibility, which is why the HPM 800U machine was selected,’ said Graham Gant, department head – development manufacturing.

Other critical issues affecting the machine tool decision-making process involved part accuracies, repeatability and surface finishes.

‘We have to be able to machine components and complex component features and details to extremely tight tolerances,’ said Gant.

‘The HPM 800U, with its advanced high-torque spindle technology, direct-drive rotary table, rigid and thermally-stable construction, and Smart technology software, delivers consistent performance and process reliability,’ he added.

Another important factor in the selection process concerned productivity and autonomy.

‘The development manufacturing facility operates on similar lines to a precision subcontractor in that we confront the same manufacturing challenges and pressures,’ said Gant.

‘It’s important that we are able to cut our lead times and increase productivity without compromising on quality, and that we can devise new and innovative solutions that make us more efficient, drive down costs and deliver better results.

‘The original engine part that drove this five-axis machine tool purchase was characterised by its complexity.

‘Although only required as a one-off part – there were at least 10-15 different variations required and there were nine different machining operations required to produce each finished iteration,’ he added.

To help reduce cycle times, reduce operator intervention and reduce delivery times it was clear that the five-axis machine selected would need to be equipped with a high-capacity and reliable automatic tool changer (ATC).

‘Otherwise we would be spending as much time selecting, changing and setting tools as we would be machining the part,’ said Gant.

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