A Grand Rapids, Mich., company reports it recently installed a new milling machine it calls the largest of its kind in the world, capable of cutting “the entire fuselage of a fighter jet within a hair's width of tolerance.” The double-gantry, five-axis FIDIA milling machine is comparable in size and length to a car wash, according to the machining and fabricating company.
The machine is valued at $3.5 million. It has a worktable that measures 60 feet by 12 feet, “with virtually unlimited weight capacity.” It was built by FIDIA S.p.A. at San Mauro Torinese, in Italy.
In operation, it cuts three-dimensional shapes in aluminum, steel, composites, and other materials, but it also can be outfitted with sensor to measure the shape of very large objects. With five axes of operation, the FIDIA machine controls the cutter head positioning carefully along the length, width, and depth of the material, plus two more axes.
"Our new FIDIA milling machine represents a significant leap forward for Paragon D&E as we supply industries that demand highly precise molds and machined parts that are also very large," stated president David Muir.
Thus, Paragon D&E aims to help customers to “reverse engineer” very large parts of existing designs. For examples, it lists helicopter cockpits and aircraft tail structures.
Paragon D&E serves customers in the aerospace, alternative energy, automotive, heavy truck, nuclear, and other industries. It is also a full-service mold supplier with engineering and building capability.
"The capabilities of the FIDIA will allow us to fabricate very large parts and molds with very sophisticated shapes," statd Muir. "This is particularly important in the aerospace, automotive and any other industries that require curved surfaces to accommodate the aerodynamics of their products."