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Tackling Tough Aerospace Machining Challenges



With a weight of 8 tons, the Haas UMC-750 had the mass needed to cut tough materials, according to Korczak.

The Haas UMC-750 is supplied as standard with some essential macros for 5-axis machining, specifically for the dynamic repositioning of parts.

Sébastien Korczak, Owner, KMP, shows a complex aerospace component in titanium made for Airbus machined on an automated Haas UMC-750 that runs night and day.

Many of the components manufactured at KMP are highly complex, featuring freeform surfaces, inclined faces, angled through-holes and irregularly shaped bosses. Sometimes 80 - 90% of the original billet is machined away.

The Eco-Tower 60 from Lang Technik is designed to provide a simple introduction to automation, typically for batch sizes up to 60 off. An operator at KMP loads the tower with billets, presses the button and walks away, returning to find a completed batch of precision parts.

Precision has been a key feature of the Haas UMC-750. One particular part required holes drilled to a tolerance of ±3 µm. The holes were generated using helical interpolation on the UMC-750, and the customer approved the parts when they were delivered as "right first time."

KMP aims to continue growing by finding customers who need precise parts made in tough materials and larger volumes.

Around 80% of components at KMP are produced from titanium - a notoriously tough and difficult-to-machine alloy - mostly for the aerospace industry, but also for motorsport. According to the company, titanium has proved to be no problem for the Haas machines.

"We have to be well organized and structured, with an attractive hourly rate, in order to compete," said Korczak. "Which means the price and running costs of Haas machines are a huge advantage, and we can build on that. We now feel confident enough to hire more employees and buy more Haas machine tools, especially universal machining centers."

(l-r) Sonia and Sébastien Korczak, KMP

In southwest France, one well-known company dominates the industrial landscape: The Airbus Group. Along with an extensive supply chain in the Toulouse area, it is single-handedly responsible for a good deal of the region's economy. In 2011, when word got out that Airbus was planning a major manufacturing program, husband and wife entrepreneurs Sébastien and Sonia Korczak decided to establish their own subcontract machining facility, KMP, with the intention of servicing the large number of tier-2 and tier-3 aerospace companies in the area.

With no established contacts in the aerospace supply sector, KMP's first six months were far from plain sailing. Knocking on the doors of large aerospace supply chain companies eventually led to a handful of orders, which the company machined using a pre-owned Haas VF-2 vertical machining center (VMC) with a Haas TR160 2-axis (rotating/tilting) trunnion table.

"Haas has a big brand presence in the European market, and because we had a very good experience with our used VF-2, we felt compelled to find out more about its machines," said Mr. Korczak. "At the start, we wanted a 5-axis machine to differentiate ourselves from three main competitors we had identified in the market. But, we needed to find a good machine at a good price, and we could not afford to buy a new one. The pre-owned Haas VF-2 proved to be the ideal solution. It has a very big program storage capacity, which allows us to use sophisticated machining strategies."

Such was KMP's initial success that within six months, the company had swapped the VF-2 for a Haas VM-2 VMC complete with a more powerful spindle, followed shortly by a Haas DT-1 drill/tap center. However, the most recent purchases at KMP are two Haas UMC-750 5-axis machining centers, one of which is robot-loaded and typically runs all night. KMP was, in fact, the first company in France to install a UMC-750.

"We shopped around, but with a weight of 8 tons, the UMC-750 appeared to us to have the mass we were going to need to cut tough materials," said Korczak. "We had the opportunity to see the UMC-750 without the cover and were reassured by the sturdy, rigid machine frame. Also, we have great confidence in the Haas control. In fact, the UMC-750 is supplied as standard with some essential macros for 5-axis machining, specifically for the dynamic repositioning of parts."

According to Korczak, the machine's precision is another differentiating feature that has helped overcome many component issues at KMP. For instance, one particular part required holes drilled to a tolerance of ±3 µm. The holes were generated using helical interpolation on the UMC-750, and the customer approved the parts when they were delivered as "right first time."

Around 80% of components at KMP are produced from titanium - a notoriously tough and difficult-to-machine alloy - mostly for the aerospace industry, but also for motorsport. Many of the components are highly complex, featuring freeform surfaces, inclined faces, angled through-holes and irregularly shaped bosses. Sometimes 80 - 90% of the original billet is machined away. "Titanium has proved to be no problem for the Haas machines," said a KMP spokesperson. "Indeed, due to automation, one of the UMC-750 machines runs around the clock cutting titanium workpieces."

The Eco-Tower 60 from Lang Technik is designed to provide a simple and advantageous introduction to automation, typically for batch sizes up to 60 off. An operator at KMP loads the tower with billets, presses the button and walks away, returning to find a completed batch of precision parts. "Communication with the UMC-750 is very straightforward, and was facilitated by a Haas technician in no time," said Korczak.

KMP aims to continue growing by finding customers who need precise parts made in tough materials and larger volumes. But the company is in competition with local companies, as well as rivals operating in lower-cost economies, such as Romania and Tunisia.

"We have to be well organized and structured, with an attractive hourly rate, in order to compete," concluded Korczak. "Which means the price and running costs of Haas machines are a huge advantage, and we can build on that.

"We now feel confident enough to hire more employees and buy more Haas machine tools, especially universal machining centers."

For more information contact:

Haas Automation, Inc.

2800 Sturgis Road

Oxnard, CA 93030

800-331-6746

www.HaasCNC.com

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