Swiss Technology Tour

A recent Switzerland tour organized by the NTMA revealed insights on machine and spindle collision protection, fluids for deep-hole drilling and more.


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The Swiss tour wrapped up with a visit to the Kaiser plant to see the machining equipment and assembly processes behind the company’s digital boring heads.

Early this month, I got the chance to visit a number of manufacturers in Switzerland as part of a tour set up by the NTMA. I and a number of NTMA members got a chance to tour the facilities of Blaser Swisslube, Kaiser (aka BIG Kaiser), and Mikron and Liechti (both part of the GF Machining Solutions group). We also saw some large-scale manufacturing performed at SR Technics (aircraft refurbisher and turbine engine rebuilder) and Burckhardt Compression (world’s largest manufacturer of reciprocating compressors).

At Mikron, we saw a presentation about the company’s Machine and Spindle Protection (MSP) option available on Mikron HPM 600U and HPM 800U machines. MSP uses a mechanical system that allows the spindle to slightly deflect in X, Y and Z axes at the moment of a collision, using a sensor to detect this and trigger the machine to stop before the spindle/spindle bearings are damaged. This video shows a collision that demonstrates how quickly the system stops the spindle travel.

GF Machining Solutions acquired Liechti last year, a builder of machine tools like this one for turbine blades, blisks and impellers. Key to high material removal rates and quality surface finishes on these contoured parts is the company’s Turbosoft Plus CAM software, which uses toolpath strategies designed specifically for efficient roughing and finishing of airfoil shapes.

Blaser has an impressive laboratory as well as tech center with a number of high-end machine tools where various cutting tests are performed. Its Liquidtool concept combines advanced cutting fluids and oils, application and consulting knowledge, and customer and training services. It is ideal for tough applications such as this deep-hole drilling operation, in which an 8-mm-diameter hole that’s 200 mm deep is drilled into chromium molybdenum steel in only 10 seconds (without pecking).

The visit to the Kaiser plant was interesting because we were able to see the machining equipment and assembly processes behind the company’s digital boring heads. Test cuts in the company’s tech center showed how easy adjustments can be made thanks to the digital technology. (As a side note, Kaiser has decided to strengthen its partnership with long-term partner BIG Daishowa Seiki of Japan, agreeing to become a company of the BIG Daishowa group as of April 15, 2015.)

My hat’s off to the NTMA and hosts for an informative and interesting trip.


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