Triumph Structures–Wichita is a division of Triumph Group, a global leader in manufacturing and overhauling aerospace structures, systems and components. In Wichita, Kan., Triumph makes a variety of jet aircraft and helicopter parts, including large aluminum wing skins, spars and ribs. Some of the billets start out as large as 3,000 pounds and 17 feet long.
To produce these enormous, monolithic structural components, Triumph had traditionally used a gantry-style vertical mill. However, due to issues with thermal stabilization resulting from a lack of internal climate-control capabilities, the machine struggled to maintain repeatable precision. And while programmers and operators were able to compensate for these issues, it required extra time and frequent temperature readings. Moreover, the machine’s lack of an automatic pallet changer created substantial periods of downtime during part changeovers.
The company understood that in order to improve quality, consistency, productivity and profitability, it would need to invest in a more capable machine platform.
Based on the success of its past Makino installations, Triumph Structures–Wichita decided to invest in the first Makino A6 5-axis horizontal machining center in the United States.
While few machines are big enough to handle the types of parts that Triumph produces, workpiece capacity wasn’t the only factor that led to the company’s purchasing the A6. The A6 also features a 33,000-rpm spindle and similar design to Makino’s popular MAG-Series machines, which are renowned for their speed and productivity in large aluminum components. Additionally, its HVAC system maintains a constant temperature in the spindle, tooling and workpiece for sustained accuracy over long periods of machine operation.
The A6 is equipped with two exterior worktables, where operators can set up pallets with any combination of jobs. Once setups are complete, the worktable is raised into a vertical position and shuttled into the A6 just as soon as processing of another part finishes.