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Widia M1200 carbide s halve cycle times

Widia M1200 carbide s halve cycle times

Added to MTDCNC by MTDCNC on 10 December 2012

The use of Widia M1200 carbide inserts for face milling a titanium aerospace component has not only halved cycle times at TGM Precision CNC Machining but, because of the shearing ‘free cutting’ action of the inserts, the company has also eliminated the possibility of distortion in the finished workpiece.

This was not the case previously, before Vargus Tooling UK supplied the M1200 inserts which are designed to impart and direct cutting forces upwards into the machine spindle and down into the fixture, rather  than tangentially, which is traditionally the case.

Mike Rawlinson, one of the owners of the Preston-based precision CNC machinist, explains that the Airbus components – A320/A380 door-strengthening parts – are supplied to TGM’s first-tier client in a range of sizes from 70 mm long and 30 mm wide and 50 mm thick to 500 mm long and 100 mm wide and 50 mm thick.

These are machined (on a Hurco VMX 64 vertical machining centre dedicated to the process) as a ‘prepping’ operation by TGM and, he says, “the savings with the new tooling do not end with reduced cycle times and improved process integrity”.

He continues: “We’re also achieving much better tip life from the M1200; up to 100 per cent improvements, in fact, compared to the tooling previously used – and all this from inserts which are costing the same as we were paying before!”

Compared to the former process, which used eight-edged inserts, the 100 mm diameter face milling cutter body holding the Widia inserts, which have 12 cutting edges set at  15 deg, is now run at double the speeds and feeds of the former cutter – 200 revs/min and 250/275 m/min.

Vargus Tooling UK, a leading supplier of thread generation tooling, supplies the Widia insert tooling as Master Distributor for the UK and Ireland. Two M1200 geometries are offered: the LDJ geometry, with optimised rake angles, in two grades - THMU (targeted at non-ferrous materials) and a TiB2-coated TN grade for high silicon aluminium; and the LDJ3W wiper-style geometry, which is available in similar grades.

“We’re always ready to listen when Vargus Tooling UK suggests something new,” says Mr Rawlinson and Iain Thornber, TGM’s joint owner, “and we don’t hesitate to invest if the product lives up to its promises.

“Vargus Tooling UK’s Technical Sales Engineer, Ian Lowe, said the M1200 inserts would perform at higher speeds and feeds and lower power consumption compared to double-sided alternatives, and that they have excellent chip forming and evacuation, high feed load capabilities and excellent tool life – and they do!”

This continual improvement philosophy has stood the company in good stead since it was established in 1998, initially producing small batches (of valves) for a customer in the north east and one-offs for British Aerospace, and has seen investment in an impressive range of vertical machining centres in recent years.

These  include a Haas VF9 with 2,134 mm by 1,016 mm by 762 mm in X, Y and Z axes, a Gildemeister DMU EVO five-axis unit with HEIDENHAIN TNC 530i CNC, a Cincinnati FTV 3700 with X, Y, Z travels of 3,700 mm by 1,000 mm by 700 mm, as well as ten Hurco machines including a DCX32 with X, Y, Z capacities of 3,200 mm by 2,100 mm by 920 mm.

In addition, the latest additions are a pair of 3 m capacity five-axis Mazaks purchased for a specific job: a kit of parts for aircraft stringers, which are being produced on the machines 24/7.

This machining armoury is backed up by co-ordinate measuring machines (employed on the shopfloor – X, Y, Z capacities up to 1,400 mm by 1,490 m by 800 mm) and the use of a Mastercam CAD/CAM system and Redthorn production control.

The result is a 25-employee (including one apprentice) precision machining operation, accredited to ISO9001:2000 (aiming to achieve AS9100 Rev C by the end of 2012) and with BAe Systems and Airbus UK approvals, that is geared to meet every and any eventuality in terms of workpiece size and complexity that may arise from its partnership approach with its customers.

It’s an approach that is built around the assumption that TGM constantly looks to drive down lead times and manufacturing costs, and wherever possible it passes those benefits on to its customers.

Mike Rawlinson adds that the initial introduction to TGM’s aerospace work was in the form of aluminium kits that were previously being chemically etched to size by the OEM. “We knew we could machine them a lot quicker and for a better price, without jeopardising surface finish,” he says.

“So, we offered to take one and machine it for free. We reversed engineered it and the rest, as they say, is history. As a result, we secured a substantial long-term contract and haven’t looked back since.”

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