Delcam software chosen for novel five-axis laser machining process
Delcam's Power Solution CADCAM software has been selected by the Winbro Group for its radical new five-axis laser machining process - LASEMILL. This novel technology allows complex geometries to be machined into gas turbine blades and vanes to the high level of quality and accuracy that was previously only possible with EDM. The process offers lower cost and higher speed when creating complex features for producers of both aerospace and industrial gas turbines. It can be used both in the initial manufacture and in the repair of either ceramic coated or uncoated hard metal parts.
The main application of the LASEMILL process is expected to be in the precision drilling of holes for the air cooling of components made from stainless steel, titanium or nickel. This is a critical part of the whole manufacturing operation since the aim is to create the maximum possible number of holes in the part without jeopardising its structural integrity. Furthermore, it is usually one of the final stages in making the components so each example already has a high built-in value. For example, in one project, it was estimated that the cost of scrapping a single part would be US $20,000.
The speed for completion of the machining operations is just as critical as the accuracy, particularly for customers in the aerospace industry. Any delay in the delivery of the engine for a new aircraft can result in significant financial penalties. Similarly, the cycle times for component repair must be reduced as each day the plane spends on the ground represents lost revenue for the operator.
Winbro plans to supply the LASEMILL technology as a complete turnkey package, comprising the five-axis laser machining centre, together with the machining program and the jigs and fixtures for the specific component.
When asked why his company had chosen to use Delcam software, Projects Manager Mike Wakeham said that he had approached a number of potential partners at the start of the development two years ago. "There was no shortage of companies that wanted to sell us software,” he remembered. "However, Delcam was the only supplier that was prepared to work with us to develop exactly what we needed. One of Delcam’s strengths is the ability to handle data from the various CAD systems used by our customers. The software also seemed to offer more options for customisation so that we could automate parts of the programming process.”
The incorporation of the Delcam software into the LASEMILL system makes it possible to import component designs, model the arrays of holes required and develop the machining paths for the laser. Full visualisation and process simulation within the software gives the customer increased confidence in the final process