FLT-Krasnik produces numerous types of bearings — ball bearings; cylindrical, spherical, and tapered roller bearings; and other bearing configurations, too — employs over 2,000 workers and is the largest manufacturer of its type in Poland. For almost 70 years, it has been supplying standard designs and custom bearings for automotive, electric motor, and power engineering, manufacturers, and for industrial use in metallurgy, mining, and agriculture industries.
Lately, FLT_Krasnik’s buyers have been demanding increasingly sophisticated bearing designs, with shorter delivery lead-time. In response, it has invested in newer, five-axis CNC machining capability, so that it can execute more complex designs, usually in one or two set-ups.
On the other hand, the wider use of five-axis machines at the bearing manufacturer creates a difficult programming challenge. Early on, the company’s NC programmers had difficulty producing programs for parts with complicated geometries. Managers felt that they were limited in terms of the cycle time that could be achieved on five-axis machines and that too much time was required to complete the programming process.
The challenge for FLT-Krasnik was to ramp-up its five-axis programming capabilities quickly in order to ensure the timely return on investment for the machines it had invested in to meet the customers’ demand. The managers then decided to invest in more advanced CAM software – choosing ESPRIT, developed by DP Technology.
Esprit CAM system simplifies programming for five-axis machines thanks to an intuitive interface and workflow concept; a full range of five-axis machine cycles; and dynamic onscreen program verification capability, which eliminates the need for expensive machine tool dry runs. Esprit five-axis machining cycles include five-axis composite milling, five-axis ruled swarf milling, five-axis surface swarf milling, five-axis contour milling, five-axis impeller machining and many others. These functions make it easy to achieve the superior surface quality, part accuracy, and material removal rates provided by multi-axis machine tools — and required in bearing manufacturing.
Integrating ESPRIT — FLT-Krasnik frequently uses Esprit’s SolidMill FreeForm module for five-axis, free-form machining. SolidMill FreeForm offers the flexibility to choose among seven different semi-finishing and finishing cycles: Planar, Translation, Normal, Rotation, Offset, Parametric, and Spiral. Further, SolidMill FreeForm’s combinable functionality enables users to utilize 3D finishing cycles for roughing and/or pre-finishing. These include: Boundary Contour, Z-Upper/Lower Limits and/or Stock Automation.
Also, the bearing manufacturer frequently uses the Port Roughing cycle, an improvement in the latest version of Esprit. The Port Roughing cycle creates a five-axis roughing operation to remove the material inside an area where the tool must enter through a restricted opening. The shape of the toolpath is an offset of the port surfaces, starting at the surface and proceeding inward at a constant step-over.
One example of FLT-Krasnik’s use of simultaneous five-axis machining can be seen in machining external molding elements, which are beyond the capabilities of many of its competitors. Esprit’s particular five-axis functionality provides users with more toolpath options, blade roughing and chamfering, helping to increase the efficiency of machining these and other complex components.
Since implementing Esprit CAM software, FLT-Krasnik has converted many challenging parts from manual or three-axis to five-axis CNC machining. The result has been a substantial improvement in machining and programming productivity as well as an improvement in component accuracy. “With Esprit we are typically able to reduce cycle time by about 20% while increasing programming productivity by around 10%,” said Krysztof Paluch, process engineer and programmer. “The result is that we have been able to please our customers and increase our revenues.”