Featuring a 5,000- by 3,000- mm table and X-, Y- and Z-axis travels of 5,000 by 4,750 by 1,250 mm, this THERA 5000 gantry-type milling center from Zayer is just one example of the very large machines that characterize the offerings of most Spanish builders.
Representatives from many of these companies said they are renewing their focus on the U.S. market. For its part, Zayer has already achieved some success with the recent sale of two machines, one of which, a large bridge-type, will be presented at IMTS prior to delivery. The company is represented in the United States by Republic Lagun Machine Tool Co.
A defining characteristic of Spanish machine tool offerings is the use of interchangeable spindle heads like the ones arrayed in front of this FR-12000 floor-type boring and milling machine from Soraluce, which is part of the Danobat group and celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Available in universal, angular, orthogonal and other configurations, these heads are designed to provide the flexibility to machine a variety of part features in a single setup.
The FR-12000 in the previous picture features automatic head-changing capability, which works similarly to an automatic tool changer—heads are stored in a “magazine” like this one and swapped as-needed. According to the company, two custom machine features help users get the most of this functionality. The first is a modular quill-changing system that maintains the same distance between the quill spindle and any compatible milling head. This adds to setup time savings by eliminating the need to adapt the head or reposition the workpiece after a head change. The second is a dynamic ram balancing system that automatically compensates for the weight of different spindle heads to ensure the ram maintains geometric accuracy, straightness and parallelism.
This orthogonal auto-indexing differential head from Nicolas Correa is among the milling head models that employ the builder’s custom differential positioning system. According to the company, the use of Hirth coupling rings for positioning improves repeatability and clamping force compared to standard systems.
Gorutzpe is a relatively small, family-owned company based in the Basque country that produces a relatively low volume of machines per year and exports the lion’s share of its production—all traits that are typical of Spanish machine tool builders. The company specializes in parallel lathes like this A-2000 4G CNC, which is said to be especially useful for heavy cutting applications in the oilfield and power generation industries. With a 1,700-mm swing over carriage, the machine can accommodate workpieces as heavy as 20 tons.
The use of four guideways enables Gorutzpe’s A-2000 4G’s carriage to slide past the tailstock during machining. This feature is said to be especially advantageous when using a steady rest because it eliminates the need to break down the setup in order to move the carriage to the other end of the workpiece. Note the prismatic “V” shape of the outer guides, a feature designed to help center the carriage and hold it in place.
The Goratu Group, represented in the United States by the Republic Lagun Machine Tool Co., offers two lines of machines: Lagun milling machines and Geminis lathes.
According to booth personnel, the company’s current milling offering contains more moving-column machines, whereas in the past it offered mostly bed-type mills. One reason they cited for the change is that moving-column machines are easier to adapt to different production requirements. For example, unlike a bed-type machine with a standard table already integrated, a machine like this GMP-6 can be paired with multiple rotary and/or fixed tables at different heights to reduce setup time from job-to-job. Floor space is also a common concern with large machines, and moving the spindle along the X axis requires less space overall than moving the workpiece. Finally, larger work tends to be heavy and thus difficult to move in the first place.
This linear encoder from Fagor offers the ability to remove the reader head from either end without removing the steel tape. According to the company, this feature is especially useful for users of large gantry machines because moving the reader head to an accessible position can often take hours. It is also said to ease cleaning and maintenance.
Fresmak Arnold specializes in high-pressure vises. According to booth representatives, this technology has yet to catch on in the United States, although the company is making an effort—in April, it announced an exclusive distribution agreement with Cleveland, Ohio-based Zagar that is expected to expand its U.S. reach.
Rather than relying on the force an operator applies to a rotating handle, high-pressure vises use hydraulic or pneumatic pressure boosters. As opposed to conventional vises, this design is said to provide repeatable clamping force with minimal operator effort while virtually eliminating the risk of over- or under-tightening.
Not all of Fresmak Arnold’s vises are high-pressure models. This conventional, self-centering vise keeps the workpiece away from the table to provide access for five-axis machining operations. The tension spindle is also located relatively high off the table and close to the workpiece to minimize jaw distortion.
Meco began selling slotting machines like this one in the U.S. market just a few years ago, according to booth representatives. These systems are capable of producing square, radial, conical and square slots, internal splines, grooved guides and more in materials ranging from plastic to bronze and hardened steels.
- According ONA EDM personnel, U.S. customers are showing increasing interest in machines with larger work envelopes. The AF60 Modular shown here offers 800 mm of Z-axis height. However, like other Spanish machine tool builders, the company offers machines with sizes and other features tailored to meet specific user requirements, as opposed to a selection of standard models. The oldest EDM manufacturer in the world celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
- ONA EDM’s NX4C is capable of plunging in the Z axis at 250 mm per second. According to company personnel, this not only provides faster machining with the graphite electrode, but also helps clear chips from the machined slot via the suction created by the high-speed ripping action.
Danobat displayed one of its LG Series cylindrical grinders with a steady rest that moves along with the carriage to maintain its position opposite the grinding wheel throughout the cycle.
The United States is one of the most important export markets for Madaula, a manufacturer of mostly custom angle heads and spindle heads as well as live tooling for various brands of CNC lathes and Swiss-type machines. Euro-Technics represents the company in North America.
The IDEKO R&D center, a joint research facility shared by companies within the Danobat Group, showcased a number of interesting projects it has in the works. This unit is a dynamic vibration damper designed to be attached to the machine near the cutting area. The unit uses an accelerometer to detect vibration generated by the machining process. Then, an integrated motor vibrates at a counteracting frequency to damp the naturally occurring vibration. Booth personnel say the organization is currently working to develop models that can be fully integrated into machine designs.
Another IDEKO project involved machining this tiny intraocular lens implants through a combination of turning and laser ablation. Tolerances are less than 1 micron and the process achieves 50-Nm roundness.
Although nearly half of the total 1,171 exhibitors at the 27th edition of BIEMH hailed from abroad, I visited the show with the primary goal of seeing what the Spanish companies had to offer. Click through the pictures below for a sampling of some of the technologies I spotted.