McDowell runs rings around aero rivals with NILES-SIMMONS


Founded in 1910, OTTO FUCHS Group is a world leader in the aerospace, automotive, construction industry and industrial engineering sectors. With more than 10,000 employees in subsidiaries around the world, the German manufacturer plays a key role in supporting OEMs with products and services of impeccable quality levels – this is why it has recently invested in a NILES-SIMMONS N50 MC turn-mill centre, which is available in the UK from McDowell Machining Technologies.

The OTTO FUCHS facility in Meinerzhagen specialises in producing billets, forgings, extrusions, ring-rolling products and machined parts from aluminium and titanium alloys for the aero industry. With over 5,000 products manufactured from almost 100 different alloys, OTTO FUCHS is an integral part of the international aerospace manufacturing sector.

To service its customers, the company needed an extremely capable machine tool with unparalleled flexibility and automation – the solution was NILES-SIMMONS N50 MC turn-mill centre with a Kuka robot for loading and unloading parts. The core of the project for OTTO FUCHS was to optimise and fully automate the machining of double, triple and quadruple engine rings for the aerospace sector.

Rene Casagrande, Segment Manager in the Aerospace Engine Disc Production Department at OTTO FUCHS, located in the North Rhine-Westphalia region says: “We manufacture engine discs for all the major manufacturers in the aerospace sector. The main focus is on titanium and nickel applications and this entails special applications in terms of our machining requirements. We have recently built a new production facility where the new NILES-SIMMONS N50 MC became an integral part of the plant. There was a requirement for a machine with double spindles to ultimately achieve production efficiency on titanium and nickel components.”
It is here that the NILES-SIMMONS N50 MC with the Kuka automation system perfectly suited the requirements of the aerospace manufacturer.

The NILES-SIMMONS N50 MC is built upon a modular concept that enables the end-user to select the technical specifications that suit their particular application. Typically, the N50 MC incorporates a main and counter-spindle, a distance between centres of 3000mm with a swing diameter of 1250mm and two tool magazines. With in-process tool and workpiece probing, a blank and finished part shuttle and a Smart Factory system for Industry 4.0 integration – the N50 MC can cater for the demands of any machine shop.

From a flexibility perspective, the modular concept behind the NILES-SIMMONS N50 MC allows customers like OTTO FUCHS to configure the machine to incorporate milling, turn/mill and 5-axis milling, deep hole drilling, ID machining with a boring quill, gear hobbing, grinding, process and condition monitoring and much more. It was this ability to build a flexible ‘production cell’ to its particular requirements with part loading and unloading with a Kuka robot solution plus the robust and productive platform that led OTTO FUCHS to NILES-SIMMONS.

Rene Casagrande adds: “Important aspects in our selection was the high cutting performance. In this case, we have to have a high level of automation, so we have complex automation practically from the double ring to the finished product. Equally important is traceability, the fact that there is automatic linking means that traceability is 100% from start to finish. This is a special feature in addition to the naturally high level of automation within the machine.”

At the facility, the company produces aluminium, magnesium, titanium and nickel alloy forgings up to 750kg and 5m in length, extrusions from 0.1 up to 25kg/m and rings for aircraft turbines from 300mm up to 2m in diameter and from 30mm up to 800mm high.

Casagrande summarises: “We chose NILES-SIMMONS because the machining of titanium and nickel components is very challenging and we were looking for a partner who could precisely meet all these requirements, especially in combination with the aerospace industry and its demands.”

“In retrospect, it has been a circular project from our side, from the beginning with the order placement through to project planning, construction and commissioning and through to today where production has been running for almost 12 months. Everything has been positive all around whether that is technologically or also regarding the optimisation of the systems. We continue to have the full support and great cooperation with NILES-SIMMONS and I can say that they are a very good partner in this respect,” concludes Casagrande.

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