Davis Tool of Hillsboro, Ore., is a precision manufacturer of complex titanium and aluminum aerospace components. It often invests in new technologies to make its shop more productive than others and to become more efficient and more profitable.
The company had been using geared-head machines to produce its titanium aerospace components, which proved to be time-consuming. To improve efficiency and flexibility, it felt that it needed a more modern automated machining cell with a high-torque integral drive spindle. This spindle would improve acceleration and deceleration rates and allow higher process speeds.
Davis Tool had been using Makino machines since 1987. The reliability and efficiency of these machines caused the company to again look to Makino. In 1997 they purchased a Makino MCB 1310 and MMC pallet handling system. After experiencing success from this automated cell it purchased a new titanium machining cell featuring two a82M horizontal machining centers and a Makino Machining Complex (MMC2). This automated cell would replace the work done by five of Davis Tool’s previous geared-head spindle machines. This became the company’s third Makino pallet handling system.
Since installing the new a82M titanium machining cell, Davis Tool has had higher metal-removal rates, increased accuracies, greater throughput and reduced setup times. It is experiencing overall cycle-time reductions of 25 to 50 percent in titanium milling projects previously run on geared-head spindles. For example, one particular project machines an 800-pound titanium block down to 90 pounds in just four operations. Total machining time was 100 hours on the a82M machines, compared to over 200 hours when previously run on the geared-head spindles.
The parts produced on the a82M machines hold true position tolerances to 0.003 inches, dimensional tolerances down to 0.0006 inches, and milling surface finishes as fine as 32 micro-inches. These are tolerances that were unobtainable on Davis Tool’s previous geared-head machines.
The a82 machines would have been faster than the company’s previous geared-head machines, even as stand-alones, but by throwing an MMC2 into the mix added more efficiency, eliminating substantial periods of out-of-cut time. The automated titanium machining cell is running at 95 percent spindle utilization.
Before adding the automated machining cells, Davis Tool’s equipment saw significant downtime due to extended change over times. But the automated machining cells are able to retain multiple fixtures and setups, significantly reducing out of cut time and increasing capacity. Now the new bottleneck on the shop floor is having enough material; production is running so quickly that raw material suppliers cannot keep up.
The automated cells have also given Davis Tool the ability to take on the types of jobs it would have hesitated to accept in the past.