Reimagine and reshape

The launch of the Liechti Turbomill 500g sees blade manufacturing on a different productivity level
The launch of the Liechti Turbomill 500g sees blade manufacturing on a different productivity level

In this article, GF Machining Solutions underlines why it should be considered as your first choice for high quality aerospace applications.

In a challenging and high demanding market such as aero engine manufacturing, teamwork in the supply chain is fundamental for success. The match between different challenges in the manufacturing process and of modern engine efficiency is constantly driving the development and the targets ahead. With its commitment to pushing the boundaries of technology, GF Machining Solutions reshapes the way aerospace applications are carried out, setting new standards and delivering unparalleled solutions by combining technologies like no other company.

GF Machining Solutions has a strong presence in the aerospace sector with its technologies of milling, wire-cutting, die-sinking and hole drilling. With over half a century of expertise in key aerospace machining technologies, GF Machining Solutions keeps aerospace OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, MRO partners and other subcontractors soaring high above the competition. From prototyping to manufacturing structural parts, fuselage frame components, fuel delivery systems, auxiliary power unit (APU) components, jet engine components and avionics, to turbine blade repair and traceability solutions, GF Machining Solutions offers the best-in-class technologies, products, solutions and services to drive success. The company creates new solutions in order to help and improve its customers' needs for better machining processes, including consistent quality and boosting productivity.

GF Machining Solutions’ CUT S 400 Dedicated offers extremely flexible disc production
GF Machining Solutions’ CUT S 400 Dedicated offers extremely flexible disc production

GF Machining Solutions’ high-speed and high-performance milling, electrical discharge machining (EDM), laser texturing, automation, and customer services solutions are said to increase its customers’ productivity, support their lean manufacturing processes, shorten turnaround times and make them more competitive in an increasingly demanding global marketplace.

The Dedicated EDM line

AgieCharmilles, a part of GF Machining Solutions since 1983, started in the 1950s with wire-cutting and die-sinking EDM as pioneers in using these technologies for aerospace manufacturing. GF Machining Solutions provides die-sinking EDM machines, for example the FORM P 600, to manufacture turbine vanes with seal slots. It helps producers reduce costs with the best balance of machining speed and electrode wear, allowing better precision and minimal recast layers to ensure surface integrity.

In 2014, GF Machining Solutions supplied the first wire EDM dedicated to fir tree disk manufacturing in replacement of broaching operations with a much more convenient, flexible and certified process. With the new second generation, this line was brought to a superior level with the new CUT S 400 Dedicated which addresses the customers' needs. Thanks to the cooperation with end users, this is the ultimate weapon for automated 24/7 production of disks. Created for specific jobs and needs, and not merely as an adaptation of an existing model, this new release includes the next evolution of the monitoring software eTracking. This ensures continuous monitoring of the cutting conditions and certifies that all the slots generated are compliant with the requirements. The best setup for automation, maintenance, cleaning, wire capacity and filtering together with the new exclusive design of the lower head, ensures uninterrupted productivity. Even with different disc diameters and cavity profiles the CUT S 400 Dedicated offers extremely flexible production also for small batches.

Effective blade production

Since acquiring Liechti Engineering in 2015, GF Machining Solutions has further consolidated its position as an innovation leader for complex 3D shapes manufacturing. Liechti is the only supplier in the mechanical engineering sector that specialises solely in the manufacturing of a full range of solutions for creating complex foil 3D shapes and impellers, dedicated to aerospace and power generation. With the launch of the Liechti Turbomill 500g in 2023, the blade manufacturing is now on a different productivity level. With more than a 30% increase in speed from the previous generation, the Turbomill 500g is able to machine parts of different kind of materials, either with clamping parts in a chuck or machining parts from a bar loaded by an integrated bar feeder. Thanks to the performance of the 5-axis machining centres, part quality increases and results in higher efficiency. Four direct drives and rotary linear drive kinematics, together with the legendary Liechti motion control and CAM software, are an unbeatable combination for this top-level production system. The machine can also be fully automated for parts handling.

Additive possibilities

With additive manufacturing (AM), there are better design possibilities, even compared to casting. This technology allows manufacturing extreme shapes like hollow structures and very thin walls, with less than 1mm thicknesses. AM design reduces the number of steps drastically and is therefore cost saving through the simplification of the supply chain. Another key advantage is the possibility to obtain lightweight designs in aircraft.  

Additive Manufacturing offers better design possibilities compared to casting
Additive Manufacturing offers better design possibilities compared to casting

The extremely complex geometry of the part emphasises the high design freedom of AM, which is hardly possible with other manufacturing processes. Very complex shapes with hollow structures and thin walls (<1mm) are combined in one part without compromising on functional integration. Increase part performance with the production of a dual-flow internal channel which is only possible with AM. Thanks to the reduction of manufacturing steps AM moreover results in cost savings through the simplification of the supply chain. GF Machining Solutions provides value-added manufacturing solutions for engine, aerostructure, equipment systems and avionic companies. These comprise dedicated solutions for blisks, discs, vanes and laser cooling hole drilling.

Laser texturing – interiors

GF Machining Solutions’ fully digital, precise and ecologically sound 3D Laser texturing solution enables the creation of a variety of innovative moulded plastic cabin interior components. There are limitless texture design possibilities, even on big moulds with fully digital and repeatable processes. Laser texturing offers an opportunity for designers to enhance passengers' emotional experience.

Environmental sustainability is a major issue today and beyond so governments are pushing chemical etchers to quickly adopt cleaner processes. GF Machining Solutions is committed to reducing its technologies’ environmental impact, as demonstrated by its laser texturing technology’s cleaner, more efficient production of textured products. Laser texturing avoids the need for environment-polluting and overcomes the limitations of manual and traditional methods.

When it comes to high technology systems and high productivity, the 24/7 use and the full traceability are crucial success factors. GF Machining Solutions says it can support its users with a full range of solutions in this regard, being able to manage high volume production and flexible production with parts handling or pallet handling systems up to a complete factory automation using AMR. The connectivity of the workshop management software and the machines with the OPC-UA interface, ensure a full data collection in order to keep track of all the production parameters. Customers who want to advance through high automation and precise manufacturing will find perfect support at GF Machining Solutions as a single source supply.

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