Photos courtesy of Mazak Corp.

Traditionally, many shops have machined turbine blades using 3-axis vertical machining centers (VMCs) equipped with fourth-axis, rotary-table attachments. However, given challenges such as small leading- and trailing-edge radii, slight fillets where blades transition to the platform attaching the blade to the turbine shaft and the need for extremely high-quality surface finishes, it’s no wonder manufacturers have sought out better solutions.

To overcome these challenges, 5-axis Multi-Tasking machines such as Mazak’s INTEGREX e-Series and i-Series Multi-Tasking Machining Centers are becoming more popular in the arena of turbine blade machining. After all, few shops have work that is limited to just turbine blades. Multi-Tasking machines allow them to go beyond processing prismatic parts, a limitation with 3-axis vertical machining centers with rotary attachments.

For turbine blade machining, INTEGREX Multi-Tasking machines improve the process by providing synchronized workholding, driven at both blade ends. In addition, simultaneous 5-axis contouring allows shops to run bull or ball nose cutters to reduce machining cycle times.

Plus, with twin turning spindles, Multi-Tasking machines can take advantage of synchronized motion. On Mazak INTEGREX Series machines, for instance, shops use the machines’ twin spindles to chuck onto fixtures that would then grip blades at opposite ends. Or the two machine spindle chucks could be removed, and fixtures would be mounted onto the two spindle noses.

Main and secondary spindles on Mazak INTEGREX Multi-Tasking machines deliver the same horsepower and speed. Specially designed C-axis drive systems provide exact indexing increments and superior accuracy in contour machining applications, such as those with turbine blade machining.

Photos courtesy of Mazak Corp.

However, shops that acquire 5-axis Multi-Tasking machines also need to have capable CAD/CAM systems to handle 5-axis programming, as well as a capable machine control to run the programs successfully. Mazak’s SMOOTH TECHNOLOGY offers a comprehensive solution.

The MAZATROL SmoothX CNC allows shops machining turbine blades to make offsets, in length and diameter, in five axes, all while programming and operating in conversational as well as EIA/ISO. Mazak’s Tool Radius Compensation for 5-Axis Machining offsets the tool by calculating the offset vector perpendicular to the tool axis. Meanwhile, innovative capabilities make the MAZATROL SmoothX CNC easier and safer to program and operate, including SMOOTH TECHNOLOGY solutions like SMOOTH Tool Management and SMOOTH Monitor for far greater ease of use.

Mazak has also developed intelligent software functionality that pushes the envelope even further for reliable and precise 5-axis machine performance. Active Vibration Control and SMOOTH Corner Control use extensive look-ahead technology from the MAZATROL SmoothX CNC to optimize the servo acceleration and deceleration values in anticipation of rapid changes in direction – a particularly useful function for turbine blade machining.

Mazak Corp.