Makinorsquos new horizontal machine achieves up to 310 cubic inches of metal removal per minute

The “Right Size” Solution for Small Aerospace Parts

Aug. 15, 2013
Better stability, structural solidity High-speed spindles Pallet changing configuration

Makino recently introduced a “right-sized” 5-axis horizontal machining center for complex aluminum aerospace parts. As North American aerospace manufacturing grows more complex and demanding, the new a61nx-5E offers a novel and appropriately sized design for small components that involve 3-D contours, without compromising the spindle performance or 5-axis capabilities of larger aerospace machines.

 “The a61nx-5E features the same robust design and proven reliability of our smaller nx-Series horizontal machining centers, but with the added speed and performance of our larger MAG-Series machines,” stated David Ward, Makino horizontal product line manager.

“This machine differentiates itself from other similar 5-axis horizontal platforms with an innovative pallet-change system, advanced twin-direct-drive rotary table design, and availability of a high-power 24,000-rpm spindle,” Ward continued. “The result is a highly productive, right-sized solution that can provide up to 310 cubic inches of metal removal per minute.”

The a61nx-5E provides enhanced rigidity through a three-point bed casting and tiered column structure. It has X-, Y- and Z-axis travels of 730 mm (28.7 inches), 730 mm and 680 mm (26.8 inches), respectively. Linear acceleration is 1G on the X- and Y-axes, and 0.8 in the Z-axis.

The direct-drive rotary tables on the new machine improve operators’ access to all sides of a part, especially when using shorter tools—yielding improved performance and accuracy.

A closed-loop thermal management extracts heat generated by the large direct-drive rotary table motors, ensuring system reliability and accuracy.

Also, the a61nx-5E use the same tool magazines as Makino’s nx-Series machines, with a ring-style ATC60 as standard. Optional matrix magazines with capacities of 133, 218 or 313 are available.

The a61nx-5E is supplied with a standard 14,000-rpm spindle with 240 Nm of duty-rated torque and 30 kW of duty-rated output. According to Makino, the configuration is ideal for premium job shops that need a 5-axis platform to machine a wide variety of materials. Other spindle configurations include an optional ,14,000-rpm high-torque version and a 20,000-rpm spindle for those manufacturers that need slightly more speed.

For high-performance operations handling high-volume aluminum machining, the a61nx-5E has the option for the new 24,000-rpm high-performance core-cooled spindle. This spindle provides up to 80 kW of duty-rated (60 kW continuous) output, delivering four to five times more metal removal per minute than typical high-speed spindles, the machine builder explained, and offering superior finishing feed rates. This high-speed spindle brings the aluminum roughing and finishing capabilities that are typically associated with Makino’s much larger machines into a smaller platform, enabling cycle-time reductions of 45% to 50% in complex parts (when compared to a typical 20,000-rpm high-speed spindle).

The a61nx-5E’s innovative pallet changer eliminates material-handling challenges by enabling operator-friendly part loading and unloading via a 45-degree pivot point that transfers pallets from a vertical to horizontal orientation. The loading height is an ergonomically friendly 32 inches off of the floor, improving safety at the loading station. Workpiece limitations are a generous 600 mm (23.62 inches) by 385 mm (15.15 inches), accommodating easy crane clearance through the doors. For customers wishing to add automation to their 5-axis machining, this unique pallet-change system is fully compatible with the Makino MMC-R robotic fixture plate distribution system.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)

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