5 questions with Robin Cave

Advertorial - Ask the Expert

Mazak’s software specialist discusses how CNC functionality optimizes aerospace component machining.

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February 6, 2019

1) How is advanced machine tool CNC technology improving aerospace part machining?

The data processing speeds of today’s advanced controls, such as those of Mazak’s MAZATROL SmoothX CNC, are essentially 4x faster – interpreting code and sending it to the machine tool servos in the shortest time possible. High performance allows aerospace shops to eliminate two of the most common CNC bottlenecks – sluggish hardware and slow processing speeds – to dramatically shorten machining times and enhance full simultaneous 5-axis machining and complex part machining.

2) Is the CNC processing speed alone benefiting aerospace machining operations?

In addition to faster processing speeds, new innovative control functions also further strengthen overall performance and reduce machining cycle times. For Mazak’s MAZATROL SmoothX control, some key functions include Intelligent Pocket Milling, Smooth Corner Control, Variable Acceleration, and MAZA-CHECK.

3) How do advanced control functions shorten overall machining cycle times?

Intelligent Pocket Milling engages a high-efficiency toolpath when milling out part cavities. As opposed to conventional offset milling, the function consistently maintains a constant angle of tool engagement and cutting loads to optimize machining conditions. Fully utilizing a machine tool’s power capabilities boosts machining speeds 35% on the most difficult-to-cut materials.

Based on a preset radial tolerance, the MAZATROL SmoothX’s Smooth Corner Control function reduces vibrations and shortens cycle times through cutter-path adjustments when machining into corners. This eliminates dwell from a rapid deceleration in the axial movement often associated with conventional corner machining. Corner surfaces are much smoother, plus, the function reduces the cutter gouging risk and allows faster feeds.

The Variable Acceleration Control function of the MAZATROL SmoothX CNC allows individual acceleration settings of different machine axes – high acceleration for linear axes, then low acceleration for rotary ones, for example. The function calculates optimal acceleration for each, maximizing performance of the axes moving simultaneously to further reduce cycle times.

Mazak’s Intelligent MAZA-CHECK function, specifically for 5-axis machining, measures and compensates displacements and inclination of machine rotary axes. Compensation ensures multiple 5-axis part surfaces are accurate and blend together smoothly. The function combines measurement and compensation of the rotary axis errors. The SmoothX control features a special screen for Intelligent MAZA-CHECK to create measurement programs automatically.

4) Can you share specific examples of aerospace part cycle time improvements?

Smooth Corner Control resulted in 10% reduction in overall cycle time in aerospace applications that included blades, impellers, and 5-axis machined pockets. For aerospace blade machining, the combined advanced functions of Smooth Corner Control and Variable Acceleration Control within Mazak’s SmoothX CNC boosted blade machining speed by as much as 29%.

5) How can CNC support digital connectivity?

Mazak’s MAZATROL SMOOTH CNC Technology supports the MTConnect common connectivity protocol, allowing aerospace shops to collect real-time data from a machine to optimize performance and utilization.

Additionally, one MAZTROL SmoothX control can monitor up to five machines in a cell or near each other. Operators responsible for multiple machines can easily track their status from one machine display to eliminate the need to physically move to each machine.