Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Features Factory
Aerospace firm increases machining capacity with new profilers


November 2, 2012
By Special to Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Topics

Can an investment in new machining equipment make a big difference to an operation?

That’s certainly what aerospace manufacturer Aerospace Dynamics International, Inc. (ADI) hopes, as the company is making an investment in machining that could see it both expand and add almost 200 employees to its facility.

The company plans to increase its titanium machining capacity approximately 40 per cent to support Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 programs with a $90 million investment that includes a new 120,000-square-foot facility and the acquisition of eight five spindle, five-axis MAG XTi profilers. Upon completion, the expansion will give ADI approximately 600,000 square feet under roof, and require more than 200 new employees to fully staff the operation.

Prior to this, the company had purchased two five-spindle three-axis XTi profilers, which were part of an earlier plant expansion that included two portal mills and two boring mills.

“We are producing some significant titanium assemblies and sideframe components for the Airbus A350 that require lots of heavy machining, and we expect these machines to fill a big role in reaching our contracted ramp-up rates,” said ADI President and CEO John Cave. ADI – part of the privately held Marvin Group in Southern California – is an award-winning supplier for leading aerospace OEM’s, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus, Spirit and others. Its primary contracts include the Boeing 737, 777 and 787; the Airbus A330, A350 and A380; and the Lockheed Martin F-35. The Boeing Company and Spirit AeroSystems named ADI a 2011 supplier of the year.

A new multi-spindle gantry design

The new 5-axis gantry design uses the same high-stiffness frame as the three-axis XTi, which set a titanium metal removal record of 90+ cubic inches per minute in runoff for ADI.

“The three-axis version of this machine really proved itself, and the new five-axis version builds on this platform,” Cave said. “We set demanding requirements for the five-axis machines, and MAG stepped up with a complete new approach that is superior to anything else on the market. This is a major breakthrough in gantry design that gives us capabilities we never had before. Setup will be easier and accuracy will be on par with the three-axis design. The rotary axes on each spindle can be independently calibrated and controlled to enhance accuracy and simplify setup. And for three-axis roughing operations, the rotary axes can be automatically locked for additional control over the final machining setup.”

The 40 spindles will be carried on eight individually controlled gantries, with four gantries each mounted on two pairs of 91.4 m X-axis rails. The gantries span a 6 m Y-axis, with a Z-axis depth of 711 mm (28 in). The work envelope between each pair of rails will total 14,000 sq ft. Each spindle’s angular A and B axes can travel ±30 degrees, with accuracy ensured by digital scale feedback. For ADI’s application, the machines are equipped with 52-kW (70 hp), 7,000-rpm spindles, and each spindle can deliver up to 1,345 Nm (986 ft lb) of torque into the cut at 40-7,000 rpm. The standard XTi spindle is normally rated 51 kW (68 hp), 3,500-rpm, and produces 2,523 Nm (1860 ft lb) torque.

 “A multispindle machine that can rough and finish titanium at this rate gives us a real competitive edge,” Cave explained. “A single-spindle machine runs at roughly the same speeds and feeds, yet our machines complete five parts in the same cycle time, so we are much more efficient than we could be with individual machines. In addition, our infrastructure overhead is reduced, compared to what we would need for 40 discrete machines on the floor.”