UK University


Discipline: Milling
Machine Type: 5-axis
Manufacturer/Model: Hermle C 20 U
Materials: Aluminium, steels, titanium, nickel
Client Type: University
Sector: Aerospace


The faculty of engineering at a leading university in the UK carries out research projects for aerospace companies and the medical sector. Additionally, bespoke test rigs are manufactured for research conducted in various other faculties across the campus, and in other UK universities. The machine shop also provides a practical resource for post-graduates studying for an MSc or PhD in engineering.

Hermle C 20 U vertical machining centre with full 5-axis capabilityThe Challenge

Components were becoming larger and more geometrically complex, and there was a shortfall in machining capacity.

The Solution

A Hermle C 20 U vertical machining centre with full 5-axis capability was installed. Supplied by Kingsbury, UK agent for the German machine builder, the machine increased to 600 x 450 x 450 mm the size of component that can be machined at the university to tolerances measured in single-digit microns, despite the use of fully interpolated 5-axis cycles.


One series of tasks that the machine regularly undertakes is machining of scale models of turbine blades and other aero engine parts for testing. To achieve the required precision during metal-cutting and subsequent component inspection, the C 20 U resides in a temperature controlled room alongside a coordinate measuring machine.

The university ordered a well specified C 20 U at the outset, as machine function is paramount when investing in new plant to ensure that it can carry out the widest possible range of applications. A 40,000 rpm spindle was chosen, as the machine operates at 20,000 to 30,000 rpm for long periods and has been run at top speed on several occasions.

Swarf management options were included as well as coolant filtration. A BLUM LaserControl Micro Compact unit provides non-contact tool setting and monitoring, and a high-speed camera captures real-time images from the machining area for subsequent analysis.

“The Hermle was chosen from a variety of different makes and configurations of machining centre, as it offered the best volumetric positioning accuracy, verified during acceptance trials at between one and two microns.”

A research coordinator at the University.