New on the Shop Floor: Laser Micromachining, Intelligent Gear Hobbing and a Huge Autoclave
The Engineer posted on July 14, 2016 | 3263 views

Mitsubishi ABLASER Laser Micromachining System

The ABLASER laser micromachining system. (Image courtesy of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool.)
The ABLASER laser micromachining system. (Image courtesy of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool.)
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool Co., Ltd., recently completed delivery of its very first ABLASER laser micromachining system. The ABLASER, the first product developed by the company in its laser machining system business, was delivered to a Japanese manufacturer of precision instruments.

With this achievement, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool now aims to expand sales of the ABLASER by bringing its high-speed, high-precision machining performance to the broad attention of the North American and European markets and by proposing laser micromachining solutions which employ the ABLASER in the semiconductor manufacturing process to the markets of Asia.

The precision instrument manufacturer that took delivery of the first ABLASER will use the system primarily for precision machining of very hard or brittle materials. The new system will enable micro-precision machining of difficult-to-cut brittle materials, and by eliminating the conventional need for pre- and post-processing when etching, the ABLASER will also reduce running costs.

The ABLASER adopts an ultra-short pulse laser that enables machined surfaces of micro precision and quality. The ABLASER features a unique optical head featuring a high-precision lens, prism and other components. With these features the ABLASER has successfully increased shape precision, which until now had been a key target for winning widespread system adoption.

(Image courtesy of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool.)
(Image courtesy of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool.)
By ablating the machining area with high peak power, thermal impact on the area can be suppressed; and in drilling applications, dimensional accuracy and surface smoothness are achieved above the levels possible with electric discharge machining (EDM) or conventional laser machining. These features enable difficult machining tasks, such as conically tapered holes and holes tapering toward the center.

Following the introduction of the ABLASER on an actual production floor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool will introduce its micromachining solutions applying the ABLASER’s technology to industries where products are projected to become increasingly miniaturized in the coming years: for example, automobiles, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), semiconductors and medical equipment.

Going forward, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool will also propose a new semiconductor manufacturing process that combines the ABLASER with the company’s other proprietary products. For example, its automated room-temperature wafer bonding machine enabling lamination of large-diameter silicon wafers, and the “µV1,” a micro milling machine capable of processing silicon carbide and other wafer materials that are normally difficult to cut. The company intends to strengthen its marketing of this system especially to semiconductor production bases in Asian countries.

For more information, visit the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool website.


NUM and Feng Chia University Gear Hobbing Machine

Feng Chia University’s gear hobbing machine is equipped with the latest NUM Flexium+ 68 CNC system. (Image courtesy of NUM.)
Feng Chia University’s gear hobbing machine is equipped with the latest NUM Flexium+ 68 CNC system. (Image courtesy of NUM.)
NUM and Taiwan’s Feng Chia University have jointly developed an intelligent CNC gear hobbing machine with an electronic gearbox that eliminates the time overheads of changing mechanical gears on traditional machine tools.

Development of the machine began in 2014, under the initiative of Professor Ruihong Xu, who works for the Bachelor’s Program in Precision System Design at the College of Engineering in Feng Chia University. Professor Xu is responsible for a number of industry-university collaborative research and development projects at the university.

Following detailed discussions between NUM and Professor Xu about the potential machine control possibilities of its latest Flexium+ CNC system, the company donated a series of CNC controllers to the university in 2014. With the assistance of other providers, the intelligent CNC gear hobbing machine, which utilises five-axis electronic gear synchronisation techniques, is now complete. It is currently being exhibited in the first floor laboratory of Feng Chia University’s College of Engineering.

The gear hobbing machine’s spindle is driven by a NUMDrive X servo drive and brushless motor. (Image courtesy of NUM.)
The gear hobbing machine’s spindle is driven by a NUMDrive X servo drive and brushless motor. (Image courtesy of NUM.)
The open architecture of NUM’s Flexium+ CNC makes it a good platform for research and development projects such as this. The human-machine interface (HMI), together with loop programs for gear machining, have been specially created by Professor Xu, who was previously in charge of HMI development at HOTA Industrial Mfg. Co., Ltd. He continues to foster tight collaboration between the university, HOTA, Hiwin Technologies Corp. and NUM.

The new intelligent gear hobbing machine is based on a significant upgrade to a traditional CNC gear hobbing machine that featured a mechanism provided by Chang Feng Gear Machinery Co. Ltd. Developed under the Industry 4.0 planning and design concept, it offers expansion capabilities through use of a CNC-PC communication framework.

Facilities for monitoring parameters such as spindle speed, temperature and motor current have been added. Transmission of network data, calculation of cloud data, analysis and prediction can be performed via suitably equipped tool wear monitoring systems. This facilitates online compensation and product measurement to provide improved cutting parameters and precision.

The gear hobbing machine uses a NUM FS152i operator panel, with a custom-developed HMI. (Image courtesy of NUM.)
The gear hobbing machine uses a NUM FS152i operator panel, with a custom-developed HMI. (Image courtesy of NUM.)
According to Professor Xu, “NUM’s CNC systems provide exceptional expandability. We can easily access the information relevant to the machine and share the information via the network. Furthermore, the electronic gearbox system included in the Flexium+ CNC system is superior to the traditional tooth matching gearboxes. It can achieve high precision and output without spending time on changing gears, and without the back clearance problems that occur in gears with traditional tooth matching.”

For more information, visit the NUM website.


Spirit AeroSystems Autoclave

Spirit AeroSystems' new autoclave. (Image courtesy of Spirit AeroSystems.)
Spirit AeroSystems' new autoclave. (Image courtesy of Spirit AeroSystems.)
Spirit AeroSystems Inc. is installing one of the world's largest autoclaves at its Wichita, Kansas facility to support increasing production levels in the company's composite fuselage business and to grow overall composite production capability. The new autoclave has a 30-foot diameter and an internal volume of more than 78,000 cubic feet.

"Spirit continues to invest in our composite manufacturing capability and this latest expansion will help us meet record demand for the products we build," said Terry George, Spirit's vice president of the 787 program.

The autoclave, which is 120 feet long, is one of nearly 40 at Spirit's Wichita location. The addition is part of a 94,000 square-foot expansion to Spirit's Composite Fuselage Facility, where the company makes the carbon-fiber nose section for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

For more information, visit the Spirit AeroSystems website.


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