Working smarter... and harder!

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 October 2004




(2004), "Working smarter... and harder!", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 76 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Working smarter... and harder!

Working smarter... and harder!

Keywords: Mikron, Machining, Tools

Mikron, part of Agie Charmilles and Europe's HSM and five-axis machining specialist, reports that it has recently integrated its APS “Advanced Process System” and ITC “Intelligent Thermal compensation” modules on its latest range of machine tools to enable closer and more accurate “real time” monitoring and therefore, controlling of machining operations and processes.

According to Agie Charmilles the two options have been created with the operator in mind. The APC provides a steady, immediate and easy-to-understand flow of information on machining cycles and sequences enabling timely intervention to occur if and when required. The ITC automatically responds to and compensates for any internal or externally-created thermal shift or deviation that can affect machining performance and is therefore, no longer reliant on the operator fine tuning or making adjustments to machining operations.

In recent years, huge improvements in productivity have been gained through the advent of high-speed machining, five-axis machining and automation. Powerful and “intelligent” control systems, able to handle and process large volumes of data quickly, are commonplace – and remote monitoring and reporting, via SMS, can warn of process interruptions and problems.

However, whilst all these developments have undoubtedly improved customers' performance and productivity – the individual operator was still expected to be able to make critical interventions in the process to ensure workpiece quality, accuracy, etc. This situation was totally dependent on an individual operator's experience, knowledge and work schedule. The danger being that without accurate and real time monitoring to direct and help the operator make informed decisions – such interventions might be delayed or might not happen at all.

Mikron's “smart” technology involves the operator in the process providing information on a range of diverse machining issues, for example, the exact current motor spindle load or what phase (i.e. “warming-up” phase) the machine is in or has reached and therefore, empowers them into taking, and making, the right decisions at the right time.

APS – the advanced process system

This system, available for HVC 140 motor spindles, has been specially developed for high-speed machining. The system is reported to enable a visual representation of the forces created within the machining process to be displayed and as a result, timely interventions can be made, where appropriate, to safeguard and protect workpiece quality, detect tool and spindle wear, etc.

ITC – intelligent thermal compensation

In high-precision milling operations it is custom and practice for operators to wait until the machine has reached a thermally stable state before machining operations begin. Now with the ITC the machine already has the thermal process knowledge in place. For standard machining no warming-up phase is required saving, in some instances more than 15-25 min compared with competitive machines on the market. The need for the so-called pre-heat cycles has therefore been eliminated.

Even for complex jobs the warming-up phase has reportedly been considerably reduced. In effect the ITC option is said to enable higher accuracy in shorter machining times.

The APS system is available now as an option on a range of Mikron machines including the XSM 400, HSM 400, 600, 800 and the VCP/LJCP 600, 800. The ITC, available from January 2004, will come as standard on the HSM 400, 600, 800 and XSM 400 – and is an optional fit on the VCP/UCP 600, 800 and Duro models.

Details available from: Mikron. Tel: +44 (0) 121 788 8686; Fax: +44 (0) 121 788 8688; E-mail:; Web site:

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