Multitask Machining for High-Volume, Serial Production

Oct. 13, 2022
The Heckert T55 is a compact HMC with a rotary-drive operation for machining workpieces weighing up to 1,543 lbs., for commercial vehicles, agricultural machinery, and industrial applications.

STARRAG GROUP introduced the Heckert T55 five-axis horizontal machining center at AMB event in September 2022, the second entry in the Heckert T series rotary-drive machines.

The Heckert T55 is recommended for multitask machining of drive elements weighing up to 1543 lbs. for commercial vehicles, agricultural machinery, and industrial applications. Thanks to its heavier design, users can perform serial machining – e.g., turning, milling, drilling, skiving, and pointing – with just one clamping position, on a single machine.

"Our range of multitasking machines includes heavy-duty workhorses for large, heavy parts," according to Heckert product manager Jonny Lippmann. "These have also been joined by the highly dynamic machines in our T series for a few years now," he adds.

The Heckert T series – shaped by a concept, "One machine for everything" – was launched in 2018, with the Heckert T45. "Heckert T55 has the same DNA," Lippmann explained. "With its bigger brother, we're now moving to the next bigger range of workpiece families, where very different tool sizes, collision circles, and loading dimensions play a role."

The two centers boast impressive DNA, according to Starrag. Their operating concept means that, just like a smartphone, they are ergonomic, easy, and reliable to operate. Thanks to workpiece loading, they are easy to automate using pallet storage units or robots.

The machines also have a narrow footprint. Lippmann noted that the Heckert T55 "can easily be integrated into the customer infrastructure and therefore facilitates automation. This successfully manages the balancing act between complex parts and unmanned shifts."

An integrated condition-monitoring system with spindle diagnostics and collision and chip detection maximizes machine availability.

The Heckert T55 is a high-productivity, multifunct machine with a compact, robust design and a low-vibration rotary-drive unit specially designed for turning operations. This drive includes a dynamic motor spindle (15,000 rpm, 216 ft-lb) with an HSK-T100 tool holder for a high chip removal rate.

The T55 also offers the same range of machining options for cubic and rotationally symmetrical components as the Heckert T45.

The new machine's flexibility is a result of the 900-rpm NC table, which enables integration with rotationally symmetrical procedures, such as turning, turn-milling, and skiving. The ability to completely machine certain drive elements, such as planet carriers, facilitates serial gear cutting and the subsequent rounding of teeth (pointing.)

The Heckert T55 has a 97-hp (72 kW) motor spindle able to completely machine complex, larger components in a maximum of two set-ups – with comparable acceleration (max. 394 in./s2, or 10 m/s²) and the same rapid traverse (3,150 in./min) as the T45. Its dimensions have changed thanks to the larger pallet (20 in. x 25 in.) and increased travel distances (X/Y/Z: 34/40/39 in.)

Also, the T55 machines workpieces with a much larger contour (36 in., rather than 24 in.) and weight (1,543 lbs., rather than 882 lbs.) – yet, despite these increased machining capacities the chip-to-chip time (4.3 seconds, up from 3.8 sec) and the pallet change time (14.5 sec., up from 12.5 sec.) are increased only slightly

The automation capabilities already demonstrated by the Heckert T45, particularly in larger projects, also are available with the new entry. The Starrag plant in Chemnitz doubled the productivity of a drives manufacturer, halved the machine's footprint and reduced tool and handling costs by 40%. This was achieved by combining two Heckert T45 machining centers and one robot to form a small manufacturing cell. This could manufacture twelve different components of a planetary gear train – each with two set-ups.

"The customer wants to avoid reclamping operations, which are always associated with losses of accuracy, handling and manual operations," Lippmann explained. "It's now also possible to implement similar solutions with the Heckert T55 for larger planet carriers or wheel hub drives for trucks and other commercial vehicles. The Heckert T55 is therefore opening up amazing projects for us."

Furthermore, Starrag also developed the T series machines for fast, effective machining of critical materials, like cast iron or stainless steels – with accuracies between six and three micrometers. It explained this is a result of the interaction between the temperature- and vibration-stable machine bed made of mineral cast and dual symmetrical placement of a rotary-drive unit.

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