A new DMC 210 U from DMG MORI went online at BSL, based in Mt Wellington in Auckland, two years ago. Originally bought as back-up for a similar Japanese 10-year-old 5-axis machining centre and to accommodate expansion, it is now running round the clock and the BSL team cannot imagine how it ever got along without it.
Buckley Systems Limited is a leading designer and manufacturer of state-of-the-art component hardware that control and manipulate charged particle beams in particle accelerators; and electromagnets used for ion implantation, scientific research, and medical therapies. It exports 100 percent of its products to the US, Europe and Asia. It supplies more than 80 percent of the global market, with its systems used in the manufacturer of a range of products from airport scanning equipment and cancer treatment systems to computer memory chips, flat screen televisions, and mobile phones.
BSL has one of the largest machine shops in the country, containing the biggest group of large 5-axis machines and the biggest variety of CNC machine types. The precision performance the BSL team expects from the machines and the busy factory floor mean security of operations is essential. Its 35 machines are in full-time employment and there is no room for unscheduled downtime. The maintenance department’s reactive maintenance time sits at a low percentage of total maintenance time, the result of good plant benefiting from good housekeeping. Consequently, when the time came to buy the new big 5-axis machining centre, says machine shop manager Paul Bruce and manufacturing manager Peter Schuetze, they faced a difficult choice.
Only two machine tool manufacturers make 5-axis machining centres in this size in the configuration with the C-axis on the table on which the job sits. Both have world class products, back-up service, and reputations. The two tenders ran neck in neck on all aspects except two. In the first instance, Mr Bruce says the DMC 210 U’s style of configuration – with the C-axis table – is faster to set up and run jobs for production 5-axis work. In the second instance, the DMC 210 U features a 5-pallet changer that affords the BSL team the flexibility to increase its productivity, notably through more unmanned hours and including lights-out running. “There’s always something on the pallet that’s ready to go and there’s fewer setups, both which allows us to make better use of the machine,” Mr Schuetze says.
BSL’s products. A particle accelerator system uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged proton or electron particles to high speeds in sharply defined beams. Large accelerators such as CERN’s Hadron Collider are chiefly used in particle physics. Smaller accelerators are used for various applications such as particle theory for cancer treatment. Charged particle beams are offering scientific and engineering breakthroughs in fields such as energy, biology, geology, healthcare, materials science, and physics.
The electromagnets used to create electromagnetic fields in particle accelerators and for other purposes are the pride of BSL. The DMC 210 U helps machine the electro-magnets that bend and focus the beams; the vacuum chambers that give the beams of high vacuum to travel through; sources to produce the particles; diagnostics equipment; stands; and controls. “These are bespoke, specialised products. They have a range sometimes exotic shapes – each carefully designed by physicists and engineers – and sizes that range from nearly handheld to tens of tonners. The fields in BSL’s electromagnets are created when an electrical current passes through a copper coil. This coil generates a magnetic field, which is strengthened and shaped by iron poles and yokes. “In our products, thousands of amperes energise tonnes of steel with high-technology designs, machines to micrometre tolerances. These are the necessary qualities when manufacturing the building blocks of some of the largest and most technologically advanced machines in the world,” Mr Jones says.
Messrs Bruce and Schuetze say the DMC 210 U is more than up to the job. The finely tuned machine protection control can sense increases in cutting forces or vibration and stop the machine in less than 10 milliseconds if required. In addition, the operator can set a tool life, and when that is reached, the machine automatically selects a spare tool. Despite its size, the DMC
210 U was simple to install. “A huge advantage of this machine is it does not need a big, thick, expensive foundation. It has a very thick, heavy, rigid, self-supporting base with three-point support, so only a 250mm thick concrete floor base was needed. No additional securing needed to be done; long-term accuracy is guaranteed; and no maintenance or adjustment period was required. “The machine was delivered and installed in a record 10-month timeframe. For a machine this size the hardware and software settling in period was short, with the few teething problems addressed promptly and successfully.
“We opted for a Siemens controller on it, as we have a number of others already running in the factory and the team is well-trained in and used to the Shopmill conversational and the GibbsCam G-code programming units,” Mr Bruce says. The DMG MORI team, including engineers from Australia and Germany, gave Messrs Bruce and Schuetze and operator and programmer Steve Florence thorough training on the DMC 210 U.
The three men say partnering with DMG MORI for this machine, from tender procurement and decision making support to first operation and ongoing back-up service was a seamless, smooth process. Comments Mr Bruce: “It is a productive piece of equipment… the best 5-axis machine in the world. “We’re getting high spindle run hours compared with labour hours, the result of the 5-pallet changer and the ease of running five pallets unmanned overnight and weekends to make production parts. This combined with its accurate and fast performance, increases productivity and saves costs.”
DMG MORI recently installed a 24-hour technical hotline for its customers, but Mr Bruce has not had occasion to use it. “The hotline is a really good move, especially for a company that’s already a go-to supplier,” he says. “But then, on the few occasions I needed it, DMG MORI’s area sales manager Ben Heywood was available to me around the clock anyway, with an immediate and professional response,” he comments.
Photo: From left, Paul Bruce, Peter Schuetze, Bill Buckley and operator and programmer Steven Florence admire and discuss a HCV90-degree vacuum chamber that just exited from Operation 2 and is on its fixture in the pallet changer load station. BSL comments: “The DMC 210 U’s B-axis head’s 45 degrees swivel configuration if compact, giving a lot of clearance either side of the head when machining the sides of unusual shaped vacuum chambers.”