It's been a long time since the fertile soil of the Midwest has been broken for a new machine tool factory.
In January, an up-and-coming machine tool builder broke ground for a new 40,000 square-foot factory located in Mt. Carmel, Illinois. Versamill Incorporated (now out of business) is the dream of Etienne Brisard and his partner Rob Mathias. The machine these partners bring to market is called a Versamachine 6040. It's a traveling bridge-type milling machine with a 30 horsepower spindle drive and a standard X-axis travel of 130 inches. An optional X-axis travel of 236 inches is also offered. Cross travel in Y axis is 97 inches and the Z-axis ram travels 42 inches. It's a fairly large machine tool.
"We see this machine as a general purpose mill for shops with big parts or multiple parts to machine," says Mr. Brisard. A No. 50 taper universal spindle head has a range of ±135 degrees to deliver five-sided access to workpieces. The design of the head uses a clutch-type clamping mechanism with 24 tons of force. It gives infinite positioning within the head's travel range yet has the rigidity to take heavy milling cuts.
A 40-tool capacity automatic tool-changer comes with the machine—literally. The ATC is attached to the traveling bridge and moves with it. If the spindle is cutting at an extreme end of the X-axis travel, the toolchanger is there with it, eliminating the need to travel to a fixed tool-change location.
The standard spindle has 4,000 rpm through a two-speed, geared drive. A high-speed spindle will be offered in the near future. To quickly move the spindle about this machine's range, rapid traverse in X and Y axes is 800 ipm with 500 ipm rapid in Z axis.
Control comes from a PC-based CNC made by Artran. The Vector CNC uses dual processor technology that allows third-party software to run separate from the machine tool's motion control.
Versamill has installed two machines to date and has a backlog of orders for several more. The company is manufacturing these machines in Elkhart, Indiana until the Mt. Carmel facility is ready for occupancy. "Base price for the Versamachine is around $400,000 which puts it in the ballpark for many shops," says Mr. Brisard.