Complete machining solutions

With loading from above, the modular gantry loader enables unrestricted access to the machine
With loading from above, the modular gantry loader enables unrestricted access to the machine

WFL Millturn Technologies’ sales manager UK & USA, Christian Jagersberger reveals why the company’s mantra of ‘clamp once – machine complete’ is proving so popular with its aerospace customers.

WFL says it has developed its most technologically advanced MILLTURN yet to meet the demands of aerospace customers for fully-automated complete machining solutions. With the aim of developing a robust machine with the highest possible long-term accuracy, the new M20 MILLTURN machine bed is made from Nodular Cast Iron to optimise stability and damping properties. This means heavy roughing cuts without compromise.

A key benefit of the machine is the opportunity to easily integrate a wide range of automation options. Depending on the customer’s requirements, articulated robots, gantry loaders or integrated loading devices can be realised. The newly integrated production cell ‘intCELL’ is fitted on the right-hand side of the machine with workpieces supplied on a chain conveyor.

Endorsing the smart networking of man and machine, WFL offers a new software solution for operational data acquisition and predictive servicing. The new software tool, myWFL, consists of the operational data acquisition software myWFL Cockpit, the multifunctional energy optimisation tool myWFL Energy and the myWFL ConditionMonitoring system. Machine and program states over time, productivity and technical availability will all be displayed, either on the control system, PC or a mobile device via web browser. This means that the user is always well-informed about the machine productivity.

“Customers come to us for solutions that don’t exist yet,” begins WFL Millturn Technologies’ sales manager UK & USA, Christian Jagersberger. “They think of WFL as solution supplier that can supply them with complete solutions and systems. This might be the automation of a MILLTURN with heavy workpieces, or production of a wide range of gear teeth for highly flexible fast reaction suppliers. We are always able to find a solution for these requirements. New technologies, products and machines are being developed and adapted to meet future requirements. Also, our customer’s trust in WFL because we honour our customer relationships. In short, we keep our promises.

“WFL supports its MILLTURNs throughout the entire lifecycle of a machine and beyond. With our pre-owned machine business unit we give machines a second life. Service and application support at customers site through WFL in Austria and our local offices in many countries around the globe are also key to success.”

The newly integrated production cell ‘intCELL’ is fitted on the right-hand side of the M20 MILLTURN

According Jagersberger, WFL’s customers are particularly happy with the rigidity, accuracy and versatility of its machines, as well as the exceptional uptime, whilst the flexibility to use a wide selection of tools in the machines is often of utmost importance. As a result, the MILLTURN impresses with its excellent tool handling using the large number of standard tools and the ability to accommodate large boring bars using the prismatic tool interface.

“Equally important are dedicated software solutions and lifetime support, such as service, spares and application support,” he states. “WFL has matured into a complete solution provider which means we provide customers with comprehensive and sustainable support over the entire lifecycle of a MILLTURN, including the machine itself and the automation around the machine.

“Another important new development is the WFL Health Check. This customer/machine specific machine geometry check helps customers quickly ensure the geometry of the machine is correct after a tool breakage, for example. This Machine Health Check can also be used to check the geometry of the machine.”

Exceeding expectations

The WFL MILLTURNS are used mainly for parts like landing gear components, different types of turbine shafts, fuel pump housings and other components. WFL’s objective is to always exceed its customers’ expectations in terms of quality, reliability and efficiency.

“Reducing the amount of clampings decreases the risk of clamping errors and consequently improves the process quality. Embodied automatic measuring solutions ensure highest possible process quality. These measurement readings can be recorded and monitored in the WFL Process Monitoring advanced software. This helps the traceability that is required for such aerospace components.

“The MILLTURN shines when machining large landing gear components. The extremely ridged design of the machine centring around a 60° slant bed enables the customer to perform deep ID machining operations to avoid another clamping in a dedicated machine, resulting in better quality, less floor space and reduced operation costs.”

In terms of the productivity benefits customers enjoy from the implementation of WFL’s machine tools, Jagersberger says the main advantage is the reduction in the amount of different machines required to produce a part.

In-process measurements guarantee and maintain existing levels of precision and stability

“This reduction in complexity has many positive effects on our customers production environment. For example, less workpiece clampings, programming one MILLTURN and fewer different machines results in less complexity, simpler production planning, a large tool magazines help in changeover times since all tools can be kept in the machine for different parts or different clampings, highest rigidity for efficient machining of exotic alloys and the compact design of the machine, and the latest in-machine cutting-edge metrology in conjunction with process control software.

“Integrating different machining and inspection steps into one MILLTURN results in significantly reduced intermediary stock and waiting time. Machining time, storage costs and component lead-time are reduced. We provide turnkey solutions that include production strategy, tool selection and programming in addition to the machine. Our range of technology expertise includes ID machining, bottle boring operations and facing head operations for eccentric turning. All benefits of complete machining for aerospace work are exploited, setting new standards in value and precision.”

In full swing

WFL’s latest additions for large parts include the M175 for up to 1,700mm swing and heavy workpieces and the M175LS (Large Swing) for up to 2,000mm swing for medium workpiece weights. The M175LS is a particularly interesting machine for the aerospace industry since it can swing many large landing gear components, as well as large discs.

“At the other end of the MILLTURN spectrum is the M20. This machine comprises two single tool carriers with automatic tool change, as well as fully integrated automatic loading and unloading of parts. This puts the M20 ahead in terms of versatility and productivity.

“With the acquisition of FRAI Robotics, WFL became a system supplier offering its customers complete automatic production systems. Therefore, a lot of R&D effort goes into Closed Door Machining and system integration. Different technical disciplines must work well together to keep machine doors shut at all times and keep spindles running.”

Jagersberger notes that what sets WFL apart is a drive for excellence and an understanding that the company is spearheading complete machining.

“The target for the entire team is to exceed our customers’ expectations,” he concludes. “What deserves a special mention is our apprenticeship programme. We train young engineers in mechatronics, CNC machining, electronics, and other fields. These employees play a significant role for WFL’s future endeavours.

“Complete machining is facing great challenges. WFL is always on the ball, striving to integrate a wide range of machining, finishing and metrology technologies into our MILLTURN machines. Right from the very start, our motto has been ‘clamp once – machine complete’. This is, and remains our goal. This is what we do best.”

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