Machining composite materials: A bespoke solution provides the answer

Machining of composites can be a highly complex process. In co-operation with German Principal Zimmermann and its client, Kingsbury has developed a bespoke solution that addresses the issues of working with new lightweight material alternatives that are now being explored by manufacturers across a range of applications within the aerospace and automotive sectors.

In this case the client, a commercial vehicle manufacturer, sought Kingsbury’s technical expertise in sourcing a comprehensive solution for the volume production of lightweight panels manufactured from polyurethane and aluminium composite.

Bespoke solution

Following extensive research and evaluation, including the completion of exhaustive cutting trials, the client has taken delivery of a bespoke machining system built around Zimmermann’s FZ33 compact machine.

Unique Design

The solution devised by Kingsbury in partnership with both its Principal and UK suppliers alike, incorporates several innovative features developed to address problems with the behaviour of this ‘composite combination’ during machining.

Configured with a 30,000 RPM main spindle and capable of very rapid processing speeds, the machining trials revealed a tendency for the composite material to explode on contact with the cutter, resulting in the release of fine particulates into the air.

To overcome this, the FZ33 incorporates a unique extraction and filtration system, developed by Kingsbury in conjunction with a UK supplier, which manages this condition; a key element in the creation of a secure production process.

A further innovation, which sets this system apart, is the installation of an automated robot arm as an additional fixture, which presents the material to the machine, holding it in place during cutting.

The new FZ33 system harnesses advanced technology to provide an economical solution, minimising human intervention to keep unit costs low, whilst overcoming the difficulties inherent in processing this type of material.