For manufacturers who are machining complex parts and aspire to eliminate the use of angle-adjustable toolholders, hope to reduce setup time and costs, and must to do several operations in one setup, having a B axis in a turning center is an option that should be on their A list.
Since the B axis is capable of moving in an arbitrary five-axis plane rather than being restricted to the traditional live tool motions where a milling cutter can be positioned axially or radially to either the diameter or the face of the part, complex part machining can greatly benefit from a B axis. This is why, as precision part designs become more complex, turning center designs are changing to include a B axis. Including a B axis in a turning center’s design also allows for more operations to be complete in one setup.
In “Making the Case for B-Axis Machining,” benefits of a B axis are explained. The article also highlights Index Traub’s automatic 32-mm TNL32-7 seven-axis lathe with an additional B axis in the upper tool carriers. With the B axis on this machine, which can pivot through 100 degrees, complex parts with complicated contour elements can be machined along with operations such as milling, drilling, lateral drilling or transversal threading at any preferred angular position.
To read more about the benefits of a B axis, read a case history about one OEM’s multitasking center with a B axis here (“Machining Complex Workpieces Complete”).
Also visit “The Buzz about the B Axis.”