Strength in numbers

Technology developments are transforming the shape of manufacturing industries, while the need to remain competitive places ever-increasing pressures on margins. Working together and sharing knowledge is essential in finding new strategies to deliver smarter, faster routes to production and to maintain the organisational agility to weather change.

Collaboration is the lynchpin of Kingsbury’s research and development programme. This entails not only our work with our Principals and customers to find new solutions to overcome specific machining issues but also undertaking studies in conjunction with industry representatives and leading academic research teams.

Kingsbury is a member of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and aerospace giant Boeing set up in 2001 to help manufacturing businesses become more competitive through the application of new techniques, technologies and processes.

In the race to win, it’s not just about getting from A to B but how you get there that counts

In a recent initiative, the AMRC were asked to design an experiment to test the new Adaptive Feed Control (AFC) function available on the new Heidenhain TNC640 to understand how this enhanced functionality could assist with the machining of aerospace components. Kingsbury worked together with the AMRC team, Heidenhain and machine manufacturer Hermle in studying how the AFC function could be adapted to improve the speed of production.

The research centred on a customer requirement to improve performance in producing aircraft blisks. The process involved roughing between the blades using a Trochoidal toolpath, by carrying out a series of tests run on a Hermle C42UMT at the AMRC, using actual sample materials.

Key to the experiment was to study how adjusting feed rates automatically, based on spindle load via the AFC function, affected cycle times and, of equal importance, to analyse the resultant effects in terms of tool wear. The feedback from the extensive testing and modelling, carried out over a four-month period, was used to calculate the best AFC parameters which were then applied to the machining process to achieve the best balance between cycle time reduction and tool wear.

The ‘think tank’ approach is based on a collaboration of machining expertise and industry knowledge. A diverse set of experts were invited to challenge the test results from the experiment by considering how they would be affected by a range of factors in different real-world applications. This included scenarios where the programming was carried out off-line using CAM software.

The results were impressive – using the recommended settings for the AFC, cycle times were cut by 33%, with minimal effects on tool wear, whether programmed on the machine or off-line.

The results were presented in Germany to Heidenhain, and can now be applied to customers with similar applications worldwide.

Kingsbury’s involvement and representation also allows potential new customers to see both Hermle models; C52UMT and C42UMT working in the real world. Recently, cutting a new customer’s component to the specification required provided the deciding factor in the purchase of a new machine.

If you would like to visit Kingsbury at the AMRC to see the work we do or discuss a machining requirement contact us.

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