Machining equipment Manufacturers of XXL machines rely on versatile concepts

Editor: Rüdiger Kroh

There is new movement in the portal milling machine market. Although centres are still designed to produce as many chips as possible for decades to come, this is no longer enough. In precision, flexibility and cost-effectiveness, the heavyweights are getting nearer and nearer to the small and medium-sized processing units.

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Portal milling installations with fully hydrostatic bearings are the specialists in precise processing of large parts. They run, as a rule, for 20 to 30 years trouble-free.
Portal milling installations with fully hydrostatic bearings are the specialists in precise processing of large parts. They run, as a rule, for 20 to 30 years trouble-free.
(Photo: Waldrich Siegen)

The current trend point to portal milling machines with universal applicability that cover interdisciplinary application areas. Christian Zierhut, member of the executive board of F. Zimmermann, Denkendorf, Germany, said he is convinced of this. Last year, the supplier of portal milling machines presented its FZ 33 compact. With 2.5m in the X axis, 3m in the Y and 1.25m in the Z, this machine is said to provide generous working space, while requiring only a comparatively small footprint. With this centre, Zimmermann said it intends to address the needs of as many users as possible in the automobile and aerospace industries as well as in tool and mould construction.

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With its modular concept, this dynamic monoblock-structured portal milling centre covers a broad application spectrum and can be integrated flexibly into existing infrastructures. With the help of high-resolution measurement systems, the patented milling head technology reportedly enables fast and precise positioning. In addition to these technical aspects, installation is said to offer economic advantages. too. The efficiency effects, for example, resulting from assembly due to the modular construction, the standardisation of component groups and the easy supply of stock parts, are passed on directly to the customer. “Users can process a broad spectrum of components in this compact installation and profit from an extremely attractive price/performance ratio and a short delivery time,” Zierhut explained. In addition, the universal and flexible usability of the FZ 33 compact becomes apparent through increased investment security and used-price stability, the manager added.

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This modular idea is also available in the Asca portal machines from Schiess. “By using standardised component groups, we can deliver high-quality, individual production solutions promptly to our customers,” Marc Springstein, sales manager at Schiess Tech, said. The foundation of the Asca series is reportedly the system-building set, cost-effective configuration and short delivery times. With this concept, Schiess has responded to the fact that the time window for realising installation solutions is being constantly reduced.

The milling portal Ascamill is flexible and comes optionally with a table that is 2, 2.5 or 3m wide and 4-10m which takes loads up to 40 tonnes. Because the axes are equipped with absolute measurement systems, the time-consuming work of homing is eliminated, the company noted.

With its tradition-rich Vertimaster series, in contrast, Schiess continues to rely on made-to-measure orders. No wonder, as these CNC controlled portal milling and turning centres are, according to the firm, among the largest machine tools in the world. If required, their face plates can be extended to up to 18m by means of a centring star.

These giants are used to produce impellers for water turbines, housings for gas and steam turbines and pressure vessels, and heat exchangers and reactors for the chemical process industry, with an individual configuration each time. “We develop Vertimaster installations explicitly designed for the specified process solution. Geometry and performance of each machine are tailored to the customer’s production tasks,” Springstein explained. Here, any desired combination of turning, boring and milling, as well as grinding and drilling out, is possible. Schiess recently presented new developments and modifications in the field of milling heads and tool guides. In addition, it has also improved operating comfort. In the future, it will be possible, for example, to collect all relevant information at the input terminal via a traffic light system and to have a one-glance overview of other optical signals.

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