Premium AEROTEC's Varel plant in north Germany produces highly complex machining components made of aluminium and titanium using one of Europe's most advanced pool of machines. And this pool has recently been boosted by a new, highly dynamic duo: A Starrag ECOSPEED F 2040 FMS (Flexible Manufacturing System) consisting of two linked machining centres.
It was almost 20 years ago that Europe's largest aircraft manufacturer first took a chance on the parallel kinematics of the ECOSPEED product lines — a technology that was revolutionary at the time. Thanks to highly dynamic 5-axis simultaneous cutting with a tripod head, these machines still set the benchmark for machining large, complex aluminium structural components today, especially in the aviation industry. Daily tasks include cutting pocket corners with an only slightly inclined land, which requires the angular position to be changed. While standard fork-type milling heads typically make huge swivel movements to do this, parallel kinematics are significantly faster and more dynamic. This is one of the main reasons why 13 ECOSPEED centres are now in use at the Varel site.
"In addition to their reliability, it was the high overall dynamism of the ECOSPEED machines that won us over", explains Christian Welter, Head of Large-Part Production at Premium AEROTEC. "This is why we chose two ECOSPEED F 2040 machines as our latest investment, which have been linked to create a flexible manufacturing system." This is the newest highlight of Hall 8, where Starrag machining centres with a drive power of 120 kW currently take centre stage. Having a large number of similar centres makes it easier to train staff, operate the machinery and perform maintenance, explains Welter, but with each new investment, Starrag and its ECOSPEED product lines must once again face the competition. He adds: "In this tender, we once again saw that the dynamism of the machine is still in a league of its own. But despite this, in the future we will continue to explore other options on the market."
A new angled milling head that can be changed automatically now enables aluminium workpieces measuring up to four metres long to be machined on the FMS — not just completely but in a single clamping position too. Flexibility is a must, since the aircraft manufacturer currently machines 700 different components on its ECOSPEED machining centres alone, for clients including Airbus and the European Space Agency (for Ariane 6).