The GS Series machining centers from Alzmetall distinguish themselves by high dynamics and precision; they are mainly used for sophisticated machining tasks in serial production, tool-, mold- and die-making, prototype construction and in the aerospace industry. For the energy supply of the spindle, Alzmetall found an economical and technically equally effective solution: An assembled, ready-to-install e-chain system® is procured from igus®.
Metalworking companies planning to invest in a new machining center and who place very high demands on precision, dynamics and machining speed, will probably consider the GS Series of the Alzmetall GmbH in Altenmarkt. Well-known as the market leader in the metalworking industry, the company built a product range for machining centers in the 80s, which is located in the top-quality, high-performance segment.
The product family of the machining centers was enlarged in 2001 by the GS 800, which developed into a success model right away and won the German Award for Innovation the next year for the numerous innovative design features. The GS 1000 released in 2005 was an upward extension for two reasons. On the one hand the machining space was extended to 1070 mm in the A-axis, and on the other hand there are optional direct drives for both the rotative axes with torque technology or the conventional servo drives. Both options have a high acceptance with users worldwide and have become bestsellers for Alzmetall.
In September 2006, the GS Series was upgraded downward. Hans Jürgen Gizler: head of the sales division for CNC machining centers: "For users who ask for precision and performance, which cannot be fulfilled by the conventional rack mounting, we offer the new GS 650". This was first introduced at the AMB in Stuttgart in the fall of 2006. The machine is conceived as a real gantry system and compared to the GS 800 and GS 1000, is offered in the A and C axes exclusively with highly dynamic and maintenance-free torque drives. High accuracies (Tp=0.007) and high machining speeds stand for the application in the manufacture of individual parts and in the series production, in the manufacture of tools and molds as well as in general mechanical engineering.
All three chains are linked by a distribution box, which igus® delivers alongside: This once again simplifies the installation.
Along with the 5-axis version, a 3-axis version with static table is also available and optionally a 4-axis with counter bearing.
The integration in automated manufacturing systems can be implemented with a portal robot solution – the machine can be fully lifted from above – as well as with a pallet changer or a buckling arm robot for loading from the front - e.g. also with a zero point clamping system.
A high vertical range of manufacture is contained in Alzmetall's formula for success: Although the own foundry works to 80% for external customers, it also manufactures up to 5.5 tons of heavy monoblock machine bases of the machining centers. These bases create, together with the patented 8-fold guiding system, the precondition for the high stiffening and thereby for maximum precision in the machining.
But Alzmetall relies on a high vertical range of manufacture only where core capabilities are concerned. One relies on "outsourcing" for other components, i.e. on the cooperation with efficient suppliers – for instance for the energy supply systems, which supply the spindle with energy, data and cooling liquids. Hans Jürgen Gizler: "We first used preassembled "readychain®" cable packages and e-chains® from igus® in the GS 800. The collaboration proved successful, so the GS 650 is also equipped with "readychain®" energy supply systems. “
It is a selection that not only cuts down the installation time, but also contributes to the long life of the energy supply system. As the cables igus® uses for the "readychain®" were specially developed for the application in e-chains®, they allow small bending radii and distinguish themselves by a long service life even with constant stress from movement. It is an important criterion for Alzmetall, because the machines are very solidly constructed. The spindle, which works up to 30,000 min-1, requires overall 50 to 60 energy and signal cables – including electric cables for servo drives, hydraulic hoses for the tool holder, feeder and measuring system cables as well as feed lines for cooling lubricant and a compressed air supply for blowing the spindle.
Alzmetall supplements the successful GS Series with a "small" model: The GS 650 similarly offers high precision and high machining speeds.
igus® was already involved at an early stage in the development of the GS 800. Hans Jürgen Gizler: "The question was: What should one consider if he wants to purchase a low-priced, long-lasting complete system?" This question could be satisfactorily answered by igus®. igus® Sales Engineer Harry Suckau: "Our proposals were very positively received. “
So it was logical to repeat this procedure with the new GS 650: igus® supplies ready-to-connect, preassembled e-chains® with integrated cable packets for every machine. Thereby Alzmetall saves installation time which is an important factor, because speed is viewed as a competitive edge: Other suppliers have distinctly longer delivery times.
Moreover the structure can be made very compact with the chain and the "readychain®" system: Tight bending radii are possible only with chainflex® cables. In addition it complies with Alzmetall's basic principles that spurn visible cables or components projecting above the machine. Both can be achieved thanks to the igus® chains.
The e-chain system® of the GS 650 provides for the movement in three axes. The X-axis moves separately, whereas the Y- and Z-axis overlap. The installation is exceptionally easy, as all the three chains lead to a distributor box delivered alongside by igus®. The X-axis is horizontally executed and uses the top machine cover as rest, on which it is propped up by a bridgework: a design detail that saves space and provides for an ideal guidance of the chain.
An intelligent construction detail: The X-axis of the e-chain® is horizontally executed and uses the top machine cover as rest. Thus space is saved and an ideal guidance of the chain is guaranteed.
The new e-chain® Series on the market stood the igus® project engineers in good stead in the development of the ideal energy supply system for the GS 650: The E 4/4 Light distinguishes itself by its very compact outer dimensions; the chain is 20 mm narrower with the same content. It is precisely these 20 mm that ensure the chain remains within the machine outline in all movements – a product development that came just on time.
Despite the compact design and the tight bending radii, the chains along with the cables move at high speed. In rapid traverse the spindle moves with up to 60 m/s and thereby attains a maximum acceleration of 10 m/s2. Acceleration values even up to 17 m/s2 are demanded outdoors. This poses high demands on the quality of the cables and the e-chain®.
Two options were determined for the chain assignment: one for the standard version of the GS 650, a second for the additional cooling hoses for the more powerful spindle with 30,000 min-1. These options are assembled in Cologne and supplied by igus® just in time to Altenmarkt. If more cables are required, they can of course be integrated in the chain. It can be done even afterward: An argument that convinced the Alzmetall designers is the simple retrofit of the e-chain® if additional axes or a minimum quantity lubrication is desired. In such a case, just snap open the individual chain links and lay the cable in the channel provided for it.
With a closer look at the constructive details: Harry Suckau, sales engineer of igus® GmbH (left), Michael Offner, igus® manager of customer engineering division southern Germany and Hans Jürgen Gizler, head of the sales division for CNC machining centers of Alzmetall GmbH (right) beside a GS 650 which is being mounted.
The "readychain®" e-chains® in Alzmetall's production hall can hardly be overlooked. The ready assembled chain and cable packets including distribution box takes barely more space than a europallet. If you go through the installation at Altenmarkt very carefully on the lookout for other igus® products used by Alzmetall, you'd find it. The iglidur® plain bearings made of high-performance polymers with "in-built" lubrication are used in the tool magazine holders.
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