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Latest innovations in Automation of large parts

The machining of large and largest components will remain firmly in the hands of German SMEs in 2022. Even though the large parts processors had to accept significant losses in turnover in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, there are currently signs of a recovery on the market. The "classic" areas of application for the components – mechanical engineering and automotive – are currently being supplemented by increased demand in the field of renewable energies. As part of our blog series, this time we will be looking at the current trends and important innovations in the processing of large parts.

Trend 1: Higher automation through pallet systems

One of the biggest cost drivers in the manufacturing of large parts is the expensive, because unproductive, set-up and non-productive time. Clamping and aligning large workpieces takes time. More and more manufacturers are therefore switching to interlinked manufacturing lines – which enable unmanned shifts and significantly reduced set-up times thanks to automated pallet systems. What can be seen in other manufacturing companies will also become established in large-part processing in 2022: the total connectivity of machining centres, vertical lathes and boring mills through automated pallet changing systems. Even the heaviest workpieces weighing over 20 tonnes and with diameters of up to 3,000 millimetres and more can now be moved effortlessly. A truly impressive trend for us, which we will definitely keep an eye on!

Trend 2: Even the big machines are getting smart

Of course, digitalisation does not stop at the large parts processors. When machining large and heavy components, it is important to have maximum dynamic rigidity and stability of the machines used – and to avoid oscillation that negatively influence the milling or turning process.
In northern Spain, traditionally one of the strongest regions in the construction of large machinery, there is currently an even stronger trend towards smart, digital expansions of lathes and milling machines. For example, the manufacturer Bimatec Soraluce relies on the so-called "Dynamics Active Stabilizer" – an active system that eliminates the oscillations of a machine caused by a milling process through controlled counter-frequencies. According to the manufacturer, this should significantly reduce machining times, especially in rough machining – and at the same time increase cutting performance by up to 300 %.

Trend 3: New milling head geometries

And again, an innovation from northern Spain: With its 30° milling head, the manufacturer Zayer offers an alternative to expensive special milling heads or milling head exchange systems. Due to the distinctive design of the 30° milling head with low interference contour, machining inside very narrow workpieces can be conducted on the one hand, and undercuts are also possible on the other. This makes the complete machining of workpieces feasible in only one clamping – in combination with turning and milling tables and a rotary C-axis in the milling head also within the scope of 5-axis machining. The 30° milling head has already been available on the market for a few years, but in 2022 we see a significantly increased demand for innovations that offer the shortest positioning times coupled with significantly increased precision. This milling head is clearly on trend here!

Trend 4: Industry 4.0 also indispensable in large-part processing

Another trend that has already become apparent in recent years has now finally arrived among processors of large parts in 2022. The complete, digital connectivity of machines is picking up speed again this year. The focus of digitalisation for the processors of large parts is the operator's work area. Here, intuitive operating concepts enable simplified handling of the machines, while sensors and cameras monitor the workspace and the individual processing steps. The digitalisation is completed by intelligent functions that drastically reduce the energy consumption of the large machine tools, which is extreme in some places, and at the same time reduce the use of operating and auxiliary materials. Sustainable metal cutting through digital solutions – for us, this is clearly one of the most important trends in 2022 that will keep us busy for the next few years.

We hope to have given you a first, brief insight into the current trends in automation of Large Parts. Do you have any questions about this article or our offer? Or would you like to discuss a specific manufacturing project with our experts? Then get in touch with us right away!

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