The demands made on energy supply systems in machine tools are high. They are subject to high loads, and demanding environments especially in the working chamber. The use of enclosed polymer energy tubes pays off in these situations; they are temperature resistant, resist the constant rain of hot chips flying around, and help avoid machine downtime.
"We include the majority of our suppliers in the development process at an early stage," says Mario Chemnitz, Director of the Design Department at Niles-Simmons Industrieanlagen GmbH in the city of Chemnitz, Germany. "Many questions need to be settled early on in the development process – especially when one is dealing with the extremely limited space available inside our machine tools and machining centers." This also applies to externally supplied parts like energy chains, which need to deliver a maximum movement in the limited space available. There are many demands on the energy supply systems which are installed both inside and outside the working chamber. These demands may range from long travel distances, tight bending radii, and high fill weights, through to high temperature and chemical resistance. All these challenges must be resolved at the design stage. "The design of the energy chain in the working chamber is especially important," says Mario Chemnitz, "since it has to withstand the most difficult conditions." “
"We build machine tools for the most varied applications," reports Chemnitz. "Although we don't alter the basic modules, often there are changes or innovations that need making to the existing systems." This is why we need close contact with our suppliers. Rapid answers and innovative design solutions are always in demand. Michael Kamm, Director of the Mechanical Design Group for the latest "N 30" Series, adds, "We get all kinds of requirements from customers. For example, space is at a premium – therefore the machine tool or machining center needs to be ever more compact while actually improving functionality. " In order to fulfill such requirements, we have jointly implemented all sorts of different geometries with the energy chains supplier.
A number of different products are installed in the machine tools and machining centers from Niles-Simmons. For example, the hybrid linear bearings and tribologically optimized polymer slewing ring bearings. They are installed without any need for external lubricants or maintenance, for instance in auxiliary movements to guide the sliding doors and to move the control console. In addition, Niles-Simmons relies on energy chains which guide and protect cables and hoses and thus reliably supply the machines and installations with energy, data, and media.The international company Niles-Simmons Industrieanlagen GmbH has concentrated its business activities in the field of research, development, production and sales of machine tools.
According to Pierre Seidel the Marketing Manager the product philosophy of the company is that "Our goal is to manufacture and globally market products of the highest quality". About 350 employees work at the company headquarters in Chemnitz, but within the entire NSH Group, there are over 1,100 employees throughout the world. The multi product range is based on six machine designs, divided into the fields of aerospace, automotive, railway and general machine tool construction, as well as tool and mold construction.
Typical products are horizontal CNC lathes and CNC lathing-milling-drilling machining centers, as well as high precision milling centers. In addition, the company does the planning and construction for complete assembly lines for the automotive industry as well as for workshops for the repair and production of railway bogies as part of the NSH Group. Thanks to the modular design and ability to accept additional drive systems, the machines can be set up and produced in accordance with the specific requirements of the customer with regard to the work pieces. "Our machining centers cover all sizes of work piece and have a compact, ergonomic and easy to use design. In addition, we offer excellent service and easy maintenance," says Pierre Seidel.
Thus, for example, there is the CNC machining center "N 30 MC", which is used,for lathing, milling, and drilling of truck and other large crankshafts. This means that work pieces up to a length of 15 feet can be economically worked. One part of the design is the tail stock in the interior. It is automatically positioned and is used to support longer pieces to be lathed using a centering point which is connected to the work piece on the front by means of a centering drill hole.
The energy supply in the working chamber is about 13 ft long and is subject to difficult environmental conditions. During lathing, milling, and drilling, a large number of red hot chips are produced. These chips can burn into the energy supply and impair the working of the machine in the long term. "This is why the majority of our customers used to demand a metal energy chain for the working chamber," explains Group Director Michael Kamm. "This, however, was not in our best interests since it is then difficult to handle and much too heavy once it has been filled. We prefer a lightweight polymer that is resistant to hot chips and high temperatures in the long term." “
As the result of a working group, a request was made to develop a material that is chip, chemical, and temperature resistant. In addition, the energy chain should be lightweight so it can be properly filled. The fill weight is up to a huge 6 or 7 kg/m. The igus® laboratory then developed and thoroughly tested a material under realistic conditions which could withstand the special conditions in the working chamber.
With "igumid HT" a material was presented from which chips at temperatures of up to 1,562 °F just bounce off. All the available "E4" and "E2" energy tubes from the standard program are now available in this high temperature material.
"After an extensive development phase in which the new material was very thoroughly tested, we presented the energy supply internally," remembers Matthias Gebauer, Technical Sales Consultant. "Ever since then they have been used in the interior of machining centers." " Based on his positive experiences, Michael Kamm adds, "today we normally get approval from our customers to use this material." “