A flexible manufacturing system is traditionally comprised of several similar machining centers, each capable of one type of machining. But, thanks to interchangeable pallets and powerful cell controllers, different machine types can be integrated into a single cell easily with an automated pallethandling system. To demonstrate that such a cell is possible, machine tool builder Makino integrated one of its D500 5-axis vertical machining centers and an a51 horizontal machining center into one automated cell capable of both 4-axis and 5-axis machining. The two machines share the same 400-mm standard pallet that integrates them into a single machining cell.
“We can combine 5-axis machining centers with 4-axis machines because we design our machines to be easily integrated into automated cells, and several machines of similar size have interchangeable pallets,” said Mark Rentschler, marketing manager at Makino.
He continued: “We’re seeing a surge in interest for flexible manufacturing systems that combine processes. Everyone needs reduced fixturing time, reduced cycle times, increased spindle use and flexibility in their process. Shops can take full advantage of their 5-axis capabilities by installing a flexible manufacturing system that will allow unattended machining for multiple types of applications.”