How to transform a high-speed milling machine for dental products into a high-performance automatic machining system for the automotive industry? Göttingen-based mechanical engineering company Akcurate & CIMT took up the challenge and solved this challenge with a complete set of solutions from Bosch Rexroth.
What do implant products and body parts have in common? Both products place high demands on precision and economy, and high-performance machines that meet these demands can now be found in Göttingen. Akcurate & CIMT manufactures measuring machines and high-speed milling machines for both the medical and dental fields as well as the automotive and aerospace industries. The machine builder can not only integrate additional functions such as measuring, turning, tightening and robotic automation into the machine, but can also use its cross-industry expertise to carry out innovative projects. One such project is the further development of existing dental machines for the mass production of body parts.
Further development of dental milling machines
The idea for this unusual project came from an automotive supplier. The supplier was looking for a robust, fully automatic high-speed milling machine for machining high-strength steel and aluminum tubes. Andreas Kirsch, Managing Director of Akcurate & CIMT, recalls: “We initially chose a high-performance machine for use in the dental industry and then considered how to develop it further and then apply it to the automotive industry. We soon discovered that our project To be successful, we needed to find an integration partner. With that in mind, we decided to involve our long-term partner Bosch Rexroth. He can provide the relevant application knowledge and the necessary best-of-breed components, all from the same supplier. “
Transparent and visible high-speed machining
Unlike small blanks for implant products, the Akcurate Pi5 Tube, developed with the help of Bosch Rexroth, can now process tubes up to 7 meters long, which are automatically loaded and unloaded by three cobots.
A linear feed axis moves the workpiece into the mill, where it is cut into 70cm segments, which are then milled and drilled as needed. The fast five-axis machining process is simulated in real time and displayed on the screen, so even if the machine window is obscured by coolant or chips, the entire process can always be seen clearly. If necessary, the operator can intervene immediately.
A range of automation services from the same brand
As soon as Kirsch presented their idea, it immediately caught the attention of Bosch Rexroth application experts. Nina Heckt, Customer Development Manager, said: “We particularly liked this exciting project because it took full advantage of our comprehensive automation solutions. We were able to create high-quality, A new generation of future machines for all requirements in terms of performance and connectivity.”
For the basic structure of the machine, Bosch Rexroth offers a complete assembly system, including matching feed axes, control cabinet and front base. The complete mechanical system, including ball screw assemblies and roller guide rail systems, comes from the Linear Motion Technology product family. The overall solution includes not only the spindle motor, but also the transmission and control system (including the controller and converter).
The Pi5 Tube is controlled by the high performance IndraMotion MTX advanced system. Industrial PCs and operator terminals are also from Bosch Rexroth. Experts added a range of automatic functions to the HMI software of dental machines. Andreas Kirsch: “The new interface fully meets the needs of the operator of the future. With real-time visualization, everyone can get what they need.”
ctrlX AUTOMATION will be the main platform for future use
With the new high-speed milling machine, Akcurate is also opening the door to the smart factory. The machine builder is already using Bosch Rexroth’s new automation system platform ctrlX AUTOMATION in some areas. The modules used in the initial development phase cover a range of areas, including cybersecurity: running proprietary software with a firewall on the controlling hardware ctrlX CORE to prevent hacking and unauthorized access. Akcurate is also planning to use a predictive maintenance application based on ctrlX AUTOMATION and OPC UA. In addition to allowing for continuous improvement, the big data analysis involved will help to determine the necessary service intervals and extend the lifespan of machines and systems. Andreas Kirsch explains: “We want to gradually make full use of ctrlX AUTOMATION while continuing to use other applications. In the near future, we want to provide remote support via the application layer in order to save us and our customers time and money. “
Faster and takes up less space than laser cutters
As development work deepened, Akcurate introduced a machine with a high degree of automation capabilities, with a significant increase in productivity. With a cycle time of around 20 seconds, even better than benchmark laser cutters, even extruded aluminum profiles can be machined precisely, without burrs and without the need for fluids. As Kirsch points out, the new system takes up only one-tenth the space it normally would. Kirsch: “Together with our partner Bosch Rexroth, we have achieved a real innovation in the field of automotive engineering and body construction. This new machine is sure to be highly regarded by competitors.”
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