See Big Millturns Machining in Michigan

The new Autania “Tec Center” in Wixom enables shops to see and test large multitasking machines from Austria-based WFL, as well as grinding and spline-rolling equipment from other Autania AG member companies.

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Until recently, U.S. shops interested in seeing large WFL turn-mills in action (the company refers to them as “millturns”) essentially had two options. The first would be to have a WFL rep set up a visit with an existing user here in the States to see how that shop is using the technology. The second was to fly to Austria to see machines at the company’s global headquarters in Linz. (I’ve been there, and in my mind that isn’t all that bad an option...)

Nonetheless, now there’s a third, perhaps more convenient, option for shops in the States. The new Autania “Tec Center” in Wixom, Michigan, has two WFL machines that customers can learn more about and arrange to have demo parts produced. (Autania AG is a holding company with several European machine tool OEM member companies having diverse technology offerings. WFL is one of these companies, and moved its U.S. offices to this new tech center in Wixom from its previous location in nearby Novi.)

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One machine at the Tec Center is the M35 Millturn model shown above. This is the smallest machine WFL offers (although this company’s definition of a “small machine” might differ from others.) The M35 has a milling head offering -110 to +110 degrees of B-axis rotation and spindle power of 20 kW. Nominal distance between centers is 2,000 mm and maximum turning diameter between centers is 520 mm.

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The other machine at the Tec Center is a larger M120 Millturn, and you can get a sense of its size from the shot above. The M120 has a milling head offering -110 to +90 degrees of B-axis rotation and spindle power of 30 kW. Nominal distance between centers for this model can range from 2,000 to 8,000 mm (even longer upon request). However, this isn’t WFL’s largest machine. That would be the M200 model, offering nominal distance between centers ranging from 5,000 to 14,000 mm (even longer upon request), and maximum turning diameter between centers of 2,000 mm.

In addition, WFL offers a range of technologies to tailor a machine to a user’s specific needs. For example, in-process part probing is commonly used to ensure accurate machining of very complex parts. This video shows an example of it being applied to large diesel engine camshaft sections.

The tech center includes equipment from other Autania member companies: Elb-Schliff and Aba Grinding Technologies (which now operate under one umbrella: Autania Grinding Technologies) and Profiroll. The ELB Smartline Kombi N10 840D at the Tec Center is a surface and profile grinding machine with a travelling-table design that can perform basic reciprocation surface grinding as well as slot, profile, speed-stroke and creep-feed grinding. This model offers grinding length, width and height of 39, 15 and 27 inches, respectively. Its spindle drive is rated at 64 hp.

(Speaking of Elb, the company says it has developed the world’s first hybrid grinder with a laser metal deposition system, a version of the company’s “millGrind” machine line. Additive Manufacturing reports on this technology here.)

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Profiroll is a manufacturer of thread-, spline- and ring-rolling machines. The company’s Rollex HP spline rolling machine shown above at the Tec Center combines CNC control with symmetric circular dies to create splines onto various types of shafts. This process correlates to a rolling rack of infinite length. The machine can also coldform profiles and threads, as well as perform finishing rolling with its profile rolling process.

Dr. Helmut Rothenberger, owner of Autania AG, says the value of all machines at the center is $5 million. Soon, additional equipment will be installed to provide die-regrinding services for Profiroll customers. He notes that the investment in this facility represents his member companies’ commitment to the U.S. market, a market he feels will experience further growth in the coming years.