In the manufacturing of industrial parts, turning is one of the most important processes, besides milling and drilling. More than 35 % of all cutting machines in SME industry are turning machines because turning is simple and flexible. Due to this, SMEs are able to produce a huge range of flexible products with only one turning machine. However, the major problem in turning is that the high flexibility can only be reached by frequent tool holder changes. Due to the geometrical limitations in turning for every variation of the work piece shape a tool holder change is necessary - an important weakness that needs to be abolished.
In the project "FlexiSTAT" the technology of simultaneous three axis turning was developed. Simultaneous three axis turning is a modification of conventional turning where the tool is moved in a third rotational (B) axis besides the already existing translational (X, Z) axes. This additional movement is realized by the integration of the already existing but yet unused B-axis of turn-/mill or mill-/turn centers into the turning process. This has following advantages:
To make the technology of simultaneous three axis turning applicable at the SME shop-floor, R&D activities in three different fields were performed:
Development of a CAM-System (Computer Aided Manufacturing), which allows to activate and to control the additional axis efficiently and without collision.
Development of models, rules and methods to design the three axis turning process for arbitrary workpieces in an efficient and optimal way.
Development of tool inserts, tool holders and tool measurement systems which improve the efficiency of simultaneous three axis turning.
During the project all developments were integrated in one machine tool to realize simultaneous three axis turning. Besides that the technology was benchmark regarding the economic benefits. It was shown that by simultaneous three axis turning the following can be achieved: