Zone: Rotary Transfer Machines

OVERVIEW: Historically transfer machine technology was classified as “Hard Automation.” This term reflected the dedicated nature of the individual workstations that performed various machining operations on a workpiece. Increasingly, as lots sizes go down, CNC technology is being used on these machines to allow for more flexibility to change the machine from one job to another. On traditional rotary transfer machines, pallets that contain fixured or colleted workpiece blanks, are arranged on a round table (not unlike a Lazy Susan) that indexes from one working station to the next. One index of the table produces a complete part. On many machine designs, the machining stations coupled with indexible or contouring pallets allow for 3, 4- or 5 axis machining. They are capable of milling, drilling, and contouring a workpiece. Usually these modules use a horizontally oriented main spindle with a quill fed Z-axis. The number of stations around the periphery depends on the complexity of the workpiece. For parts of rotation two primary types of rotary transfer machine designs are used. Multi-station horizontal table machines process bar fed or chucked blanks held in collets or chucks around the periphery of the indexing table. Machining modules mounted in an end-feed or cross feed orientation provide the machining action to the usually stationary workpieces. The trunnion-type is a second design that is used for high production of parts of rotation. It uses an indexing wheel mounted in a vertical orientation (like a ferris wheel) with grippers located around the periphery. These grippers hold the workpiece blank in the center while tool stations from the headstock and tailstock ends of the machine attack both ends of the blank at once. Cross slide operations can be performed using machining modules mounted perpendicular to the workpiece axis. Rotary Transfer Trends: Prismatic part production Six-sided machining Robotic load/unload CNC rotary transfer machines C-axis contouring pallets Annular tooling Double drop production setups Flexible high volume production

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