Delcam will highlight some of the many successful aerospace applications of its PowerMILL CAM software for five-axis machining at the AeroEngineering exhibition to be held at the NEC, Birmingham, on 29th and 30th September. Among the many aerospace manufacturers to benefit from PowerMILL’s unrivalled calculation speed, wide range of five-axis machining strategies and powerful toolpath optimisation tools are Tritech, Messier Bugatti and Creuzet Aeronautique.
Wrexham-based Tritech added PowerMILL when it was asked to move from casting to direct machining of the fuel connectors for the Airbus A400M military transporter. Airbus had calculated that considerable weight savings could be achieved if all of the in-line fuel connectors could have their wall thickness reduced to 1.0mm from 2.0mm, the minimum wall thickness needed to ensure the mechanical and metallurgical integrity of the cast components. If the components were machined from solid blocks of aerospace aluminium and the wall thicknesses controlled to a tolerance of 0.015mm, then the integrity of each connector could be maintained with the required 1.0mm wall thickness.
Essential to the success of the project were special PowerMILL strategies originally developed for the machining of engine ports. These included "auto-tilt” functionality that gives efficient material removal while maintaining minimal clearance between the cutting tool and the part surface with no risk of rubbing or gouging. It allowed the demanding surface finish requirements to be met for the through bore on the fuel connector components.
Aerospace manufacturer Creuzet Aeronautique, which is based between Toulouse and Bordeaux in the South-West of France, has cut its programming times dramatically by moving to PowerMILL for high-speed and five-axis machining. According to Tooling Department Manager Teddy Kanellos, the company can save between 25% and 80% of the time previously needed, depending on the complexity of the part.
When making its choice of new software, Creuzet allocated one of its own operators to learn each of the CAM systems under evaluation, rather than rely on the CAM companies’ demonstrators. This approach showed that the Delcam software was the best choice for the company: it was fast, flexible and easy to use, and it improved the quality of the resulting programs.
It was a similar story at Messier-Bugatti, a leading provider of aircraft braking systems, which also switched to PowerMILL to support its move into five-axis machining. Production Manager Mr. Fonferrier and his team ran trials with the Delcam software on landing gear components and hydraulic manifolds. The results were so conclusive that the company bought the software in 2007. The most important factors in the decision were the flexibility offered by PowerMILL, together with the high efficiency of the resulting programs.
Among the many advantages that PowerMILL brings to the company, users most appreciate the control over the different high-speed machining strategies, the smoothness of the toolpaths and the significant reduction in the vibration of the parts during machining. As well as helping to maintain accuracy, this extend the lifetime of both the tooling and the machines.