British Aerospace takes delivery of giant milling machine

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




(2000), "British Aerospace takes delivery of giant milling machine", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 72 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

British Aerospace takes delivery of giant milling machine

British Aerospace takes delivery of giant milling machine

Keywords: Marwin, British Aerospace, Milling

Recently installed and commissioned at Marwin's Wolverhampton factory is a 3-axis, twin-spindle CNC profile milling machine whose enormous bed, measuring 45 metres in the X axis by 7 metres in Y, is already being laid in sections at British Aerospace Airbus, Broughton, near Chester. The gantry carrying the spindles was shipped under police escort from Wolverhampton to Broughton early in November.

The "Alumax" machine ( Plate 5), claimed to be larger than any other gantry-type machine tool in use within the aerospace industry worldwide, is costing £3.5 million and will be used to produce wing skins for the new Airbus A340-600 airliner.

Of moving-gantry design, it has two parallel machining zones with working envelopes of 41 x 3.6 x 0.55 metres, each served by its own 85kW, 20,000 rev/min, vertical spindle. Twin Y axis configuration allows simultaneous mirror-image machining of "as drawn" and "opposite hand" components. Contributing to high productivity are 20m/min machining feed rates and 1 m/s/s acceleration/deceleration, although the machine design allows for a potential of three times this figure.

Plate 5 A view of the latest and largest Alumax in build at Marwin's Wolverhampton factory

To ensure high accuracy feedback of X axis position to the control system, Marwin is fitting laser axis scales along either side of the machine rather than the more usual metal tape or rack/resolver systems. Noteworthy also is the use of ultrasonic probes for non-contact measurement of panel thickness. Tools in the two independent magazines will be coded for identification and life monitoring, and laser probing will be incorporated for tool length and diameter data acquisition.

Details available from Marwin Production Systems Ltd. Tel: +44 (0)1902 366633, Fax: +44 (0)1902 366573.

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