Services and products from hydraulics, pneumatics, electrics, and linear technology were linked by Rexroth engineers to produce a custom engineering concept for Swiss company Mikron Machining Technology. “The fact that Rexroth offers coordinated components from pneumatic, hydraulic and electric drive technology right through to high speed control enabled us to select the most suitable characteristics for specific functions,” said Rolf Held, design manager, Mikron. The result was a machine tool that makes real added value out of milliseconds.
In a production environment, fractions of a second count and can accumulate to the extent that they affect cycle times. Automated transfer systems play a key role in many industries, particularly when metal parts must be processed using a number of different machining sequences. Suppliers to the automotive industry, for example, machine a number of items considerably more economically using intelligent transfer units. The machines pick up workpieces in clamping devices and transfer them automatically to the individual machining stations where they are drilled, milled, turned, chamfered or de-burred. Threads are cut and knurled profiles applied. Even peripheral processes such as installation operations or checks can be integrated into these transfer operations. With the transfer concept, all parts can be machined simultaneously.
The Multistep™ XT-200 is setting new standards for transfer systems – especially for the control speeds and the drives used for the various functions. The system makes precision manufacturing possible in non-stop operation. At the same time, the individual stations work practically hand in hand.
Extremely short chip-to-chip times ensure nearly continuous machining, and the system can even be used for high speed cutting. A key advantage is that it combines the productivity of a linear transfer machine with the flexible re-tooling capability of a machining center.
The concept is based on individual interlinked dual spindle modules, which can be used on a stand alone basis, or spread over up to four modules. Five interpolating CNC axes and up to 144 tools machine complex small and medium series parts on five and a half sides without remounting. If the parts are automatically re-mounted in-process, it is possible to machine six sides. The Multistep™ can be adapted to the production volume at any time. In addition, a loading and unloading station can assume the component feed function.
Without a break
While the main advantage of this machine is precision manufacturing almost without a break, further advantages come from the short chip-to-chip time of less than a second and the unusual dynamics. Accelerating the Rexroth CKK linear systems up to 1.4 g to 52 m per minute and spindles with speeds up to 40,000 rpm make for short machining cycles. This is where drive technology from Rexroth comes in: rodless pneumatic cylinders from the BRP Rexmover Series with a diameter of 50 mm and a stroke of 400 mm, as well as a linear axis Type CKK20-145 for strokes of up to 1,100 mm. The maximum force on this axis is around 72 kN in the direction of movement.
“At the end of the day it’s the number of milliseconds that we gain from a number of different points that is the decisive factor,” said Held.
In the standard version, the Multistep™ is fitted with a high-speed CNC Rexroth IndraMotion MTX. Up to 64 axes can be operated in twelve CNC channels independently of one another. The maximum extended version features 54 axes that are required to work in parallel. “Using any other approach would mean that we would need at least two controls and we would have to combine these with each other,” said Held.
The PLC can process 1,000 instructions in 60 ms. At the same time the CNC offers, when controlling eight axes, an interpolation cycle time of 1 ms maximum. The Rexroth IndraDrive servo drives have integrated safety functions for secure hold and safe movement. “Also of interest is the so-called feedback capability, with which the generator capacity of the motors is fed back into the network during the braking operation,” noted Held. Mikron uses the force of hydraulic components for clamping the direct drive B/C axes. The tool clamping mechanisms in the motor spindles that close by means of spring assemblies are opened hydraulically. Here the valve blocks are the same for all spindle variations.
When it comes to workpiece handling in the loading and unloading station as well as workpiece transfer, it is pneumatics that takes care of speed and safety. With the HF03-LG “light generation,” Mikron uses a light and compact variant of the HF valve series. It has a narrow valve width, yet can flow up to 700 standard liters. By using plastic plates, the weight can be reduced even further. The pneumatic and electric controls are located towards the front and arranged in one direction, thus offering increased installation potential, compactness and the possibility of adapting to the space available. By way of an alternative to the traditional multi-pole connection, a field bus connection is used.
From a single source
When it comes to compressed air treatment, Series AS2 maintenance units feature a modular structure. The individual air treatment processes are brought together in maintenance units made from high quality plastic. Filtering, closed-loop control, lubricating and draining – the configuration is geared to user requirements. With the patented oil-fill system, the oil is directly extracted from the storage tank by suction using a hose. This means that the maintenance unit is protected against fouling by oil.
The maintenance units for the pneumatics are located, like the hydraulic power unit and the master control, in a separate control cabinet. The cabinet also houses the central lubrication, power connection and the fire extinguishing system. This arrangement corresponds to the modular structure of the Multistep™ and, by ensuring simple and rapid access to central components, guarantees that the unit is maintenance friendly.
Bosch Rexroth Group