Clamping system ups productivity for aerospace engine maker

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A German aerospace engine manufacturer has improved machining of difficult-to-cut materials and descreased processing times because of its investment in Haimer’s Safe-Lock clamping system.

A cut-away of the Haimer Safe-Lock holder for shrinking technology.MTU Aero Engines in German designs, develops and manufactures commercial and military aircraft engines in thrust and power categories, as well as engines for stationary gas turbines. When the company invested in Haimer’s Safe-Lock pull out protection system, it was able to optimize machining processes in the production of structural frames and castings.

MTU Aero Engines manages challenging roughing applications for the military turoprop engine TP400-D6 with Haimer Safe-Lock

Jet engines are high-tech products. In their production, innovative technologies and processes are used. To keep current technologically, MTU develops innovative manufacturing strategies, and if necessary obtains additional external expertise. So was the case when they contacted Haimer, the tool holding specialists from Igenhausen, Germany, to help optimize the demanding machining process of manufacturing frames and castings.

Difficult-to-machine materials, high-quality components and the high degree of automation at MTU require an absolutely smooth and reliable machining process to maintain the highest levels of quality. In order to ensure this consistency and to control the high axial cutting forces during machining, MTU decided to implement the Safe-Lock pull out protection system.

Special drive keys in the tool holder and grooves in the tool shank prevent the cutting tool from spinning during extreme machining, thus preventing tool pull out from the chuck. In addition to the frictional clamping forces of the selected clamping system, the cutting tool is held using positive form locking in the tool holder through the constructive design of the Safe-Lock™ system.

Alexander Steurer, senior manager NC programming stator components at MTU Aero Engines AG in Munich, explains the decision for the HAIMER system: “Through the introduction of Safe-Lock and the shrinking technology from Haimer, we can guarantee process reliability even with milling challenging high temperature materials. This is a prerequisite to guarantee smooth processing during manufacturing of frames and castings, given our high degree of automation.“

The combination of pull-out protection and highest concentricity of the Safe-Lock system leads to low vibration and as a result, a very stable machining process. Due to the increased cutting depths and feeds, the metal removal rate can be increased significantly. And thanks to the improved runout accuracy of the Haimer shrink fit chucks, tool life is improved by up to 50, says the company.

The benefits of less than 3 μm runout that the symmetrical Safe-Lock design provides, coupled with optimum balance and the possibility for easy length presetting were substantial reasons for MTU to switch to the Haimer system instead of continuing to use Whistle Notch or Weldon tooling systems. While these other systems do in fact prevent tool pull out, both are unsymmetrical by design, hence providing insufficient runout and balance accuracy.

Through the use of a set screw the cutting tool is wedged against the opposite wall of the clamping bore. The holder pushes the cutting tool off center and thereby leads to excessive amounts of runout. Any such design also allows for significant radial play between the tool shank and the bore itself. That way the aforementioned holders actually push the cutting tool off centre, thereby inducing excessive amounts of runout. Hans Drahtmüller, line manager machining stator components at MTU in Munich, explains the resulting problems: “Due to the deteriorated runout, the tool life could not be fully realized. As a result, the tools with a Weldon flat had to be exchanged early. With Safe-Lock regrinding could be automated due to the cylindrical form of the system, as the cutting tools no longer have to be inserted manually into the grinding machine compared to Weldon flat tooling. This saves tool costs.“

In addition to productivity improvements in the machining process, time is also saved outside of the machine via fast and easy tool changes. Haimer Power Clamp Premium NG, the high end shrink fit machine MTU is using currently, offers an ergonomic working space, perfect handling and linear guided cooling bodies with temperature monitoring for maximum safety. Presetting the tool length to exactly 0.02 mm (e.g. for sister tools) can optionally be integrated into this machine.

The intelligent New Generation (NG) coil is adjustable. With one turn, you can set the coil to the size of the shrink fit chuck both in length and diameter. This new system obsoletes the former interchangeable ferrite stop disks, which were always at risk of breaking during change overs. Thanks to the multiple patented HAIMER technology, the shrink fit chuck is only heated in areas where it is necessary. This way the process of both heating and cooling the tool holders is much faster. During the cooling process different sized cooling bodies shorten the cooling time and create a gentle, even and clean cooling effect. The cooling bodies ride on linear guides, so that the cutting edges are always protected from collision with the cooling body.


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