Yamazaki Mazak UK Ltd, explores how manufacturers can turn to the latest machine tool automation technology to effectively manufacture a wide variety of complex parts, in small lot sizes.


For manufacturers looking to embrace Industry 4.0, and integrate it within their current production facilities, one familiar touch point which covers off several key design criteria is the use of machine tools coupled with automation software.

Yamazaki Mazak has been at the forefront of developing and delivering next-generation machine tool technology which can facilitate shorter production lead times, reduce in-process inventory and lower in-direct labour costs, by integrating advanced automation systems to provide turnkey solutions.

One such example is the Mazak VARIAXIS i-300 AWC (Auto Work Changer), a compact simultaneous 5-axis automation cell developed specifically for high mix, low volume production demands of market sectors such as the medical and aerospace industries.

Following growing customer demand for a compact yet highly functional automation system, Mazak built on the production expertise accumulated over the years as part of its FMS (Factory Management System) offering, and launched the VARIAXIS i-300 AWC at EMO in September 2017.

The machine has a gantry box structure purposefully designed to support the automation system, and comes equipped with a fully supported trunnion table that houses a high-rigidity HSK-100 work holding interface – ideal for 5-axis applications up to Ø350mm x 315mm in size. The i-300 AWC has a 12,000rpm main spindle as standard, with three other spindle specifications available to meet the production requirements of a wide variety of workpiece materials.

The machine tool is fitted with a multi-tiered Auto Work Changer automation system. This allows manufacturers to operate unmanned running capability, with a capacity of up to 32 work holders (with a maximum workpiece capacity of 65kg, including the individual work holder weight) as standard, although a 40-work holder variant is also available. To further enhance the lights-out machining capability the machine is equipped with a field expandable magazine that can hold up to 505 tools.

Attention to ergonomics has been carefully thought out with a side-loading design, offering uninhibited front access for the operator. As such, it offers one of the lowest footprints for a machining cell solution of its class, and can be a viable solution for manufacturers looking to integrate 5-axis automated machining of small yet complex workpieces into their production output without having to overly commit valuable floorspace.

To help manufacturers further reduce their operational downtime, the AWC software application – which is integrated into the SmoothX CNC panel that controls the cutting applications – is able to take care of scheduling and provides resource checks for tooling and programs. This ensures manufacturers have one touch-point to control both machine and automation, to ensure productivity is optimisedThe SMOOTH CNC facilitates the ultra-fast sharing of data between the shop floor and supporting office, to help manufacturers make the step-up from automated cell manufacturing to a connected Industry 4.0 factory of the future.

For more information on the VARIAXIS i-300 AWC, and Mazak’s wider automation offering, please visit: www.mazakeu.co.uk


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