A new CNC mill has been installed at Secat which provides greater flexibility, improves sample quality, and adds long-term potential to our capabilities. A Haas TM-1 tool room mill was chosen as the replacement based on rigidity, machining envelope, and feed rates. The TM-1 has a machinable size of 30” travel on the X axis, 12” travel on the Y axis, and 16” travel on the Z axis, with a 200 ipm maximum cutting rate and 4,000 rpm spindle speed from a 7.5 hp drive. The Next Generation Control (NGC) combined with a Wireless Intuitive Probing System (WIPS) allow for rapid zeroing of work coordinates, probing of specimen geometry, and rapid changeover in setups between types of samples. The NGC and WIPS system also ease training for new staff using the Visual Programming System (VPS) to rapidly setup work coordinates and simple program paths.
The TM-1 uses a CAT-40 taper tooling system which allows for larger, more rigid tooling and faster tooling changeouts than previously capable at Secat. The current tooling available at Secat consists of end mills specifically chosen for aluminum in diameters of 3/16”, 1/4”, and 1/2”. Also available are shell mills of 2” and 4” diameters for rapid facing of samples. With the current tooling assortment, Secat can mill profiles, pockets, and face off material for evaluation and fixture making for other equipment within the lab. Work holding is achieved with either a Kurt DX-6 vise, using soft jaws for customizable holding of samples with a maximum size of 6” x 9”, or a multi-station tensile cutting fixture which can hold up to six 0.5” stacks of samples for machining at a time.
The current improvements to Secat’s machining capability are a 10x reduction in cutting time, ability to utilize additional tooling common in traditional milling operations, larger work envelope with more flexibility in types/sizes of samples, and fixturing. Previously, a standard tensile program path would take more than 10 minutes to machine a tensile dog-bone sample. The Haas TM-1 mill, permits these samples to be machined in 1 minute. Previously, Secat engineers were unable to perform facing operations in the old mill, but the TM-1 allows Secat to face material for Optical Emission Spectrometer (OES) evaluation or reduce the amount of manual grinding needed for macro etching evaluations in large samples. There is also now the ability to pocket mill as deep as 3” for milling out samples from a larger material section such as a billet casting slice or ingot slice. The larger envelope of the TM-1 allows machining of Forming Limit Curve (FLC) samples in-house which provides better control and faster turnaround times.
Long term growth potential with the TM-1 is centered around the flexibility of having a larger rigid CNC mill with all the capabilities of traditional milling as opposed to a tensile cutting centric designed mill. In addition to the previously mentioned improvements, the TM-1 allows Secat to enhance and expand its offerings. Past experience has shown cases where potential projects have required special fixturing or dies. For instance, Secat made hemming bend fixtures and were requested to test components in their final form, for which Secat had to utilize outside sources for manufacture, with typical lead times of 3 months. In-house capability allows Secat to cut lead times drastically. In addition, wear and damage on dies typically requires a 6 month lead time for replacement, but with the ability to rough out the dies in-house, and only utilize outside sources for finish grinding and heat treatment, the 6 month lead time is significantly reduced. Correspondingly, new dies that customers would like to experiment with can be made in a similar fashion. Testing out a square box deep draw to more accurately depict a finished product for a customer or changing the draw ratio of current dies housed at Secat would now only require the finish grinding and heat treatment to be done outside.
The TM-1 offers significant benefits to the previous CNC housed at Secat. Below is a bullet point summary of improvements.
• Doubling of machining envelope for larger more varied specimen types
• 10x reduction in machining time
• Improvement in machined surface quality and dimensional tolerances
• Expansion of tooling options and operations
• Ease of machine setups
• Reduction of setup time between types of samples and operations
• Greater flexibility in accommodating special requests
• Expansion of in-house sample preps
• Reduction in special fixture and die manufacture times