Worlds largest isothermal forging press under construction

Erie Press Systems (www.eriepress.com), says it is building the world’s largest isothermal press for Ladish Co., Inc. in Cudahy, Wisc. (www.ladishco.com). The press, rated at 12,500 tons, will be able to forge larger-diameter, close tolerance forgings required for today’s high efficiency jet engines.

Doug Currie, president of Erie Press Systems, said the press will provide Ladish with increased operational flexibility and capacity, giving the company significant production advantages now and in the future. "Our challenge was to produce a strain rate controlled, high-tonnage press to forge critical aerospace materials," Currie said.

The press will weigh more than 1,200 tons, stand 33 feet above the floor and 27 feet below it. Four massive tie rods, each weighing more than 100,000 pounds, will support the structure. Two main rams will drive the crown and rugged press guiding will maintain tooling parallelism. Two push-back cylinders will return the press to the open position.

According to Currie, this pulldown design press is being equipped with the latest in hydraulic and electrical/electronic controls and integrated with a vacuum chamber, multi- station furnace, and part-handling system. The hydraulic controls are a combination of servo-controlled pumps driven by 100-horsepower motors. Using energy-efficient servo controls, the maximum input to drive the press will be less than 275 horsepower. Forging speed is adjustable for precise strain-rate-velocity control while increasing to a maximum force of 12,500 tons.

The hydraulic power unit utilizes manifold-mounted-cartridge valves to minimize space requirements and simplify piping and maintenance. The modular hydraulic system is preassembled and tested at Erie to facilitate installation on site. The design specifies electrical controls that provide ease of operation, as well as high-level diagnostic capabilities for quick fault detection. Intelligent control is used to view and log all motor-data parameters. The press I/O is designed into functional groups and connected to remote I/O modules to reduce wiring. Redundant safety circuits are used throughout the electrical design for safety. Ethernet communication provides high-speed data transfers. Power management for control and data acquisition ensures that information is not lost in the event of a brownout or main-power failure.

All operating, maintenance and vendor manuals, along with hydraulic and electrical schematics, are available on line at the main operator console, through the machine PC. Remote diagnostics and trouble-shooting capabilities are available through an Ethernet or phone connection. Press-performance data for each part forged is collected, recorded, and sen t to a database for traceability by serial number. According to Currie, "Given Ladish’s production schedule, not only is it imperative that we meet or exceed rigorous quality and performance requirements for design, manufacture and installation, but equally important, that Erie controls delivery performance of critical-path components through on-going, project-scheduling review, technical liaison, and inter-company communications vital in a project of this magnitude."

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