Two new test facilities -- in Michigan and North Carolina -- are inviting aerospace manufacturers to present real-world challenges and leverage the advantages of cryogenic machining technology for production applications.
5ME and Okuma America have joined forces to demonstrate the advantages of cryogenic machining -- faster processing, longer tool life, increased part quality and lower environmental impact.
The cryogenic machining process enables higher cutting speeds for increased material removal and longer tool life by transmitting liquid nitrogen at -321°F through the spindle/turret and tool body, directly to the cutting edge.
The strategic partnership will establish two cryo demonstration facilities -- one at 5ME's Technical Center in Warren, MI and the other at Okuma's Aerospace Center of Excellence in Charlotte, NC -- where manufacturers can test various machining processes using 5ME's cryogenic machining technology.
Both facilities will have Okuma machines equipped with cryogenic systems that use vacuum jacketed feed lines to deliver small flow rates of liquid nitrogen (LN2) through the tool directly to the cutting edge.
"Cryogenic machining is particularly suited to the processing of tough materials like hardened/stainless/alloy steels, Inconel, and titanium, commonly used in aerospace part production," said Pete Tecos, Executive Vice President of 5ME. "Okuma was an early adopter of cryogenic machining and this partnership will continue the development of cryogenic machining applications, and allow manufacturers to present real-world production challenges to determine how cryo can provide a solution."
Cryogenic machining allows you to cut more parts in the same amount of time with the same machine.
5ME's unique, multi-patented cryogenic machining process is a breakthrough technology that enables higher cutting speeds for increased material removal and longer tool life by transmitting liquid nitrogen at -321°F through the spindle/turret and tool body, directly to the cutting edge. This environmentally friendly metal-cutting technology increases throughput, part quality, tool life, and profitability while reducing energy consumption.
The cryogenic machining system uses tube-in-tube, vacuum-jacketed feed lines to deliver LN2 from an external bulk storage tank, or dewar (vacuum flask), to the cutting zone while protecting the integral machine components from being exposed to the low temperatures.
Installation of the Cryo kit doesn't involve removing the spindle. Instead, a lance, which also has the tube-in-tube, vacuum-jacketed design to keep the OD at ambient temperature, runs through the drawbar ID.
With cryogenic machining, chips and workpieces remain dry and uncontaminated for a safer work area and easier recycling.
A vacuum-jacketed line, however, doesn't run through a cutter body, so 5ME designed a line of indexable and solid-carbide cutting tools insulated with PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) to use with its cryogenic machining technology.
Increased Processing Speed
Cryogenic machining allows you to cut more parts in the same amount of time with the same machine. With minimal investment, a shop can increase processing speed and consequently, the number of parts machined.
Decreased Tool Wear
By retrofitting existing machines with a cryogenic system, tools will last longer allowing for decreased direct costs hitting each part. There will also be less downtime due to frequently changing out worn tools.
Surface Integrity and Part Quality
Test results have shown that the unique cryogenic machining solution has improved overall surface integrity and part quality in the following areas:
Another exciting aspect of cryogenic machining is how easy it is on the environment. Since the system cuts without coolant, there is no need for mist collection, filtration, or disposal of coolant waste. Energy consumption is lower without coolant fans, pumps, and drives. In addition, chips and workpieces remain dry and uncontaminated for a safer work area and easier recycling.
An airframe produced via cryogenic machining.
"This partnership gives us the opportunity to show the productivity-boosting, energy-saving qualities of cryogenic machining, and assist aerospace manufacturers in their quest to meet tough part processing challenges," said Wade Anderson, Product Specialist Manager, Okuma America Corp.
Aerospace Manufacturers already use Okuma's 10,000-square foot Aerospace Center of Excellence as a testing and proving ground for advanced CNC machining technology. The facility includes nine CNC machines designed for the aerospace market, as well as a fully operational metrology room with CMM equipment and other quality measurement devices.
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