Modular design helps Starrag break new ground in high-speed, affordable horizontal machining centres

Starrag UK Ltd

Starrag has broken new ground in affordable yet highly productive and high-speed five-axis machining with the launch of a new series of Heckert horizontal machining centres that have traverse rates up to a staggering 80 m/min!

The new machines – with designations H45, H50 and H55, L40, L50, L55 and X40 – not only have a smaller footprint of up to 30% less than traditional horizontal machines, which results in an estimated 15% increase in productivity per unit area, but they also boast:

  • Acceleration rates of 1.2 g,
  • Tool change (chip-to-chip) times down to 2.2 secs and
  • Pallet change times down to 8.5 secs.

Their modular design enables the use of different pallets – of either 400 mm or 500 mm – and spindle and column options allow users to specify versions for either highly dynamic machining of, for example, aluminium (using the universal HSK63 spindle on a lightweight aluminium column) or a high-torque HSK100 unit (which utilises a steel column) for processing materials such as titanium.

The result is an affordable machine range that is incomparable in terms of speed and productivity, can easily be configured to user demands and is available on extremely short delivery timescales within just 12 weeks – enabling users to install machines to meet even the most demanding delivery schedules.

Many aspects of Starrag’s well-proven machine construction principles are applied to the machines which share a common platform – including a mineral bed for optimum temperature and vibration resistance, linear guideways and a centralised swarf conveyor, as well as unified and easily accessible coolant and lubricant systems – leading to minimal downtime and therefore high levels of reliability.

However, Starrag went back to the drawing board for the development of these machines, as Dr Marcus Otto, Managing Director of the Starrag plant in Chemnitz where the new Heckerts were developed, explained:

“We wanted to develop a series of machines that would meet all our customer demands of readily-available machines that can be configured exactly to individual needs and with optimised machining operations and speed, plus with a small footprint to maximise productivity on a production output per ft2 of floorspace level.

“We’ve achieved exactly that by rethinking design attributes, which includes the positioning of the swarf conveyor, re-arranging the coolant and lubrication systems, and using a one-piece sheet metal machine ‘skin’.”

The machines – which are now available from Starrag UK – are:

  • Heckert H40, H50, H55 – with X, Y and Z axes travels of 560 mm by 650 mm by 680 mm (H40) and 700 mm by 750 mm by 780 mm (H50 and H55), able to accommodate workpieces up to 900 mm high and weighing 600 kgs (H40) and 800 kgs (H50 and H55). The up to 20,000 revs/min spindle offers torque values of up to 453 Nm.
  • Heckert L40, L50, L55 – with X, Y and Z axes travels of 560 mm by 550 mm by 680 mm (L40) and 700 mm by 550 mm by 780 mm (L50 and L55), able to accommodate workpiece heights up to 600 mm and loads of 600 kgs (L40) and 800 kgs (L50 and L55). The up to 20,000 revs/min spindle offers torque values of up to 453 Nm.
  • Heckert X40 – with X, Y and Z axes travels of 700 mm by 750 mm by 750 mm, able to accommodate workpiece heights of 500 mm and loads of 400 kgs. The up to 30,000 revs/min spindle offers torque values of up to 350 Nm.

In all cases there’s an optional NC rotary table (up to 900 revs/min) for turning operations in the same set-up, and all machines can be supplied as four-axis models as well as five-axis.

Different tool magazine options are available up to 320 tools and the new 24 inch multi-touch CNC screen presents Integrated Production System (IPS) functionality that, in line with Starrag’s Industry 4.0 strategies, has Profinet and IO-Link integration for networking/digitisation and direct links into ERP software, for instance. Starrag’s IPS is applied across all Starrag product ranges and embraces, for example, cutting force monitoring, and tool and workpiece management.

Dr Otto also highlights the ‘cutting floorspace’ productivity advantages of the linear (L) models over twin-spindle competitors. “Users of traditional twin-spindle machines usually only achieve productivity levels that equate to 1.5 spindles, due to inefficiencies and the consequences of losing two spindles when the machine stops. But with our L models, the productivity from a single spindle is at least 10% higher.”