To B, or not to B: Swiss-style machines give manufacturers a better angle

Say your machine shop just received an order for 316 stainless fuel-injector nozzles requiring angled holes to be drilled on the workpiece face. Or perhaps your best medical customer needs miniature blood-pump impellers with complex 3-D blade geometries like those on a jet-engine turbine. How are you going to make them?

Conventional wisdom says do as much as possible on a Swiss-style machine, then chuck them up one at a time on a tilt-rotary table and tie up a $100,000 machining center just to whittle away a thimbleful of material. And then the deburring remains, which is not only time-consuming but, if done improperly, degrades part quality. There has to be a better way.

You might perform some of this work with fixed-angle drilling attachments, but these are limited. Brian Such, Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based customer support group manager for Marubeni Citizen-Cincom Inc., Allendale, N.J., explained that drilling any hole requires two angle attachments—one for the center drill and another for the drill itself—each costing upwards of $10,000. If you have two different angled holes to drill, you’ll spend $40,000 and burn up four stations. And contouring work? Forget it, because only a programmable B-axis will do.

The SwissTurn Blitz from Po Ly Gim has an independent slide with six B-axis tools that can work on either the main or sub spindle.

A B-axis? Why would a Swiss-style machine—already crammed with dozens of tools and enough axis letters to score big in Scrabble—need even more complexity? The answer is simple. On any machine tool, eliminating secondary operations saves time and improves part quality—Swiss-style machines are no exception.

Read the rest: http://www.ctemag.com/aa_pages/2012/120403-Swiss.html

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