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Advanced Engineering 2021

NEC Birmingham(B40 1NT)

03/11/2021 - 04/11/2021

Join us in our 12th and most important edition to date, as we invite engineers and management from all (more)

Technical revolution in automatic turning

Technical revolution in automatic turning

After only two years of development time, DMG Mori ushers in a new era of automatic turning machines with multiple spindles. The current MULTISPRINT series represents a technological revolution in automatic turning. The efficient turning machine itself and the fast, precise and diverse production processes that are enabled, make the MULTISPRINT into a machine with almost unlimited possibilities. Outstanding performance and quality developed and manufactured in Italy, with support and professional back-up from Germany: Igus offers a special energy supply solution for both rotational and linear motion.

The ‘readychain’ harnessed energy supply system from Igus and the spindle drum were first brought together in April 2017, when many processes and manual procedures were not yet routine and demanded maximum attention from the people involved. On the MULTISPRINT, the readychain includes eight energy chains, 64 electric cables and 73 hoses. The construction has a 1.8m high body for rotation. The six linear energy chains for driving the spindles protrude from this body like arms. In the chains, there are chainflex cables that are designed for motion and are fitted with appropriate industrial connectors. These are connected to the electromechanical components on the turning machine.

The engineers and technicians continued working for a further three months until midsummer 2017 to assemble the machine completely, test it and send it on its travels: the destination was the world’s largest machine-tool trade fair, EMO in Hannover. Here, the MULTISPRINT was presented as a revolution in mechanical engineering – the first machine to combine a multi-spindle automatic lathe with SWISSTYPE technology. And all this with a Y-axis on each spindle position.

Maximum flexibility due to new technology

Due to globalisation and market dynamics, customer requirements for modern turning machines have change. They now demand shortened processing and tooling times, reduced effort for process development and integration and, at the same time, an ability to handle the increasing degree of complexity. The MULTISPRINT meets all these challenging requirements. Nozzles for fluid power equipment, implants for dentistry and shafts for motor vehicle manufacturing are just three examples of complex components that can be made on these high-tech machines. The result is a manufacturing solution for scalable requirements from initial series production to the high-volume production of complex workpieces. The customer enjoys maximum flexibility for the mass production of components with a diameter of up to 50mm.

The heart of the machine is the spindle drum with six spindles for simultaneous machining of several workpieces. The main spindles in the drum have a travel of up to 180mm. The drum moves the workpieces to the tools quickly and very precisely. It only takes 0.65 seconds for one of the six spindles to travel to the next position. For spindles to return to the starting position after machining has been completed in the six stations, the drum must turn 300 degrees in reverse. For this, the unit, which weighs over three metric tons, only needs one second. The rods are pushed out of the loader through the drum to get into position for machining.

Reliable energy supply concept

In summer of 2016, DMG Mori invited tenders for the catalogue of requirements of the MULTISPRINT. Mirko Passerini, technical director at DMG Mori, said: “Progress and plans were compared and harmonised several times a day. Ideas for solutions were developed and sometimes rejected.” With plans for the sheet-metal design made and suitable cables and hoses for supplying the drum with energy, data and fluid were chosen. “The readychain solution from Igus was the breakthrough for us,” said Passerini.

The energy supply system rotates with the drum and enables the linear movements of the spindle drums. Consisting of a metal frame, cables, hoses and chains, the system is located in the middle of the machine and is suspended from the drum, which rotates permanently at high speed. “The statics of the metal construction were a new challenge,” says Volker Beißel of Igus. “After every stage of development, we re-calculated the statics in order to be sure that the metal construction would remain stable and not become fatigued.”

Igus uses a rotary energy supply system that rotates along with the drum. These are custom-made systems for circular movements with energy chains, which are used in machine tools and construction machines. The standard rotary modules consist of two circular guide elements. One part of the guide trough is attached to the stationary part of the system and the other part to the rotating part. The reverse bend radius enables movement of the energy chains in two directions. Rotation angle up to 540 degrees on one plane can be made possible here.

Solving the problem with plastic

The drum in the MULTISPRINT rotates in a range of 300 degrees and consists of two rotation systems. In the outer system there are the hoses, as they need a somewhat larger bend radius, which is 160mm in this case. In the inner circle, twenty-four cables are guided – 12 encoder cables and 12 servo cables. For each of the six linear chains, there are therefore two encoder cables and two servo cables. One of the servo cables supplies the energy for the linear movements of the main spindles in the drum and one drives the spindle motor. They can move at a speed of 0.66m/s and with a maximum acceleration of 10m/s2.

The six energy chain systems can be plugged in individually due to distribution boards and are easy to maintain or modify. This was also one of the main requirements of DMG Mori. In addition, the chains and cables of the readychain must manage with a relatively small installation space. It is important to ensure that the working space for the mechanics behind the drum is as large as possible. The system developed by Igus completely meets these requirements.

Engineers from Igus had three months to develop the system. During development, a lot of value was placed on the modularity of the individual components. The linear chain systems can be plugged in and the sheet-metal parts designed by igus, for attachment to the machine, are made of several parts. This facilitates handling of the readychain on the customer’s premises. The goal of Igus is to ensure that the energy supply system has a service life of at least five years.

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