From 07 to 09 November Okuma Europe welcomed over 200 visitors to its recently-established Aerospace Centre of Excellence in Germany. In keeping with the location, the manufacturer presented the innovations introduced at EMO with a particular focus on aerospace machining. Highlights included Okuma’s award-winning LASER EX series of super multitasking machines, the smart factory solution Connect Plan as well as the manufacturer’s latest automation technologies.
Okuma has relocated its Aerospace Centre of Excellence (ACE) from Paris to its European headquarters in Krefeld, Germany. While the Paris facility will remain open to manufacturers as a showroom for Okuma’s state-of-the-art industry solutions, the new ACE will serve as the company’s hub for aerospace innovation in Europe. “We wanted to consolidate our aerospace know-how and our technical support in one central location,” says Norbert Teeuwen, President (COO) of Okuma Europe GmbH. “By moving our aerospace-focussed R&D to the heart of our operation we are able to further increase our support and service for manufacturers across Europe and present them with the latest technologies.” Many of these solutions were on display during Okuma’s three-day open house.
Additive manufacturing and laser hardening
Guests were treated to live machining demonstrations of aerospace parts, including laser applications on Okuma’s super multitasking machines, capable of milling, turning, grinding, Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) and heat treatment. The MU-6300V-L LASER EX showed additive manufacturing of a 550 mm blisk. The MULTUS U5000 LASER EX was used for laser hardening of a splined shaft. The process delivers more accurate results at a significantly higher throughput compared to conventional heat treatment.
Smart production via IoT
Okuma’s smart factory solution Connect Plan proved a highlight at the event. The application was used to connect the machines in the showroom to simulate an IoT-based production plant. The system enables visualisation of the entire factory as well as real-time data processing and analysis, based on which the production can be improved on a daily basis. It also enables operators to check the status of a factory remotely and to receive email notifications in case of an alarm. With the optional NET BOX suite-C manufacturers can even connect older machines without network capabilities and machines from other manufacturers.
Highly automated production
Many of Okuma’s machine tools were presented in setups with both standard Okuma automation equipment as well as custom solutions employing industry-leading robotics, such as Robojob’s Turn-Assist 200 used with Okuma’s new GENOS L3000-e lathe. With a width of only 1,400 mm, the 5-axis vertical machining centre MU-S600V enables 5-face machining with unparalleled floor space productivity. At the event, Okuma connected two machine tools of this type in a compact production line, demonstrating the machine’s ability to automatically transfer workpieces from one unit to the next without additional equipment. To take the production line’s capacity for unmanned operation to the next level, Okuma further enhanced the setup with a vision system and two robots for loading and unloading.
In addition, Okuma presented cryogenic machining of a titanium disc on the MA-600 HII horizontal machining centre, which means cooling the cutting process by injecting liquid CO2 through the tool. Especially when processing exotic metals commonly used in aerospace parts, this technology increases throughput, quality and tool life while reducing cycle times significantly.
Other demonstrations included heavy-duty machining of a 200 kg aeroplane engine case on Okuma’s largest 5-axis machining centre MU-10000H, featuring a 1 m square pallet. General machining of various workpieces was performed on Okuma’s multitasking machines MULTUS U3000 and MULTUS B250 II.
In addition to presentations and machining demos guided tours around the facility and individual discussions with Okuma experts rounded off the three-day event.