A new era is dawning at EMAG. The machine builders from Salach, who have drawn attention to themselves on more than one occasion in the past with the modular design of their machines, now present their new Platform 250 that sets the standard in configurability.
EMAG VL 5i: Time for change!
10.03.2010 - Oliver Hagenlocher
250 stands for chuck size, of which there are three basic machines: the VSC 250, the VLC 250 und the VL 5i. Each of these machines has been designed with a specific set of requirements in mind. The VSC 250 is a customisable manufacturing system, the VLC 250 is a universal multi-technology machine und the VL 5i is a manufacturing system for the sub-contractor.
Flexible in its application – from small to large batch production
Of the three basic machines the VL 5i is probably the most comprehensively standardised one. In its present concept it focuses even more on smaller and medium-sized production companies and on the turned parts manufacturer. The objective has been to develop a manufacturing solution that can find a use in anything from small batch to mass production. The demands are complex. Needed is a machine for universal use, and one that offers short resetting times and represents a highly efficient tool in a batch production environment. To ensure these demands are met – and on the face of it they encompass some pretty contrary aspects – a few innovative features have been incorporated in the VL. For example, the Z-axis stroke on the new VL 5i has been increased by 50%, to 300 mm, opening up the range of applications even more. Setting up has been further simplified with the inclusion of some clever pieces of new software. Still, despite all these innovations, sight has never been lost of the original idea: an advantageous price-performance ratio for a machine without bells and whistles, but one that is technologically sophisticated and fully-equipped with integrated automation of the carrier prism-type, a fluid cooling system for spindle motor and turret, a chip conveyor, a machining area extraction system and an optional measuring probe.
Reducing setting times and increasing the application range through flexible automation
Every VL features an automation system with recirculating conveyor chain, into which are inserted carrier prisms that transport the workpieces to and from the pick-up station. This allows for a wide range of workpieces to be handled automatically, without the need for resetting. The advantage soon becomes apparent: the automation equipment helps to create a fixed production cycle, as a new raw-part is available immediately the previous workpiece has been machined.
With the pick-up station located behind the machining area, the operator is able to remove the finished components and insert new raw-parts at the front of the machine. Where required, workpiece receptors and pallets of simple design – but capable of accommodating asymmetrical and long, thin workpieces, or components that have to be machined in fixed alignment – can be inserted into the carrier prisms. This allows for the fully automatic handling of a large variety of workpieces.
The VL is equipped with a turret that accommodates turning as well as driven tools and impresses with its short indexing times of 2.2 seconds. All twelve stations can also be equipped with driven tools for drilling and milling work. Of special interest is the EMAG turret drive, which combines high speeds with a high power rating and a minimal space requirement. In fact, the diameter of the turret is just about 360 mm – and that with twelve tool stations and a maximum torque of 45 Nm.
Quality management already included in the machine
For the first time, measuring too has become an integral part of the VL 5i. As an option, a measuring station can be fitted outside the machining area. This allows a probe to measure the workpiece as it makes its way from machining to unloading position. As the measuring takes place outside the machining area, the results will not be adversely affected by chips or dirt. And the measurements are taking with the component still in the chuck.
Energy efficiency – standard on the VL 5i
Energy is a valuable commodity and it is not cheap. At EMAG, available resources have always been treated with respect and responsibility, as they have throughout the development of the VL 5i; and this aspect has been improved on again with the new generation of the machine.
The use of Mineralit® for the machine base has made the VL so sturdy and vibration resistant that tool life is considerably higher than on machines with cast iron bases.
All guideways are located above and outside the machining area, where they are well protected from chips and dirt. This not only makes for constantly maintained accuracy and process integrity but also reduces the maintenance effort. Telescopic covers, so susceptible to malfunctions, are no longer to be found on the VL 5i. From a power rating of 0.5 kW upward EMAG uses only motors of efficiency classification eff1 with a provision for energy recovery. The electrical cabinet can now do without air conditioning, as all amplifiers are exponents of through-hole technology and feature passive coolant systems. The valves used are of the low-wattage variety that consumes 70% less energy than the traditional type. The hydraulics system features an accumulator charging circuit, which provides hydraulic pressure only when it is required. Something similar is used in the compressed air supply, where consumption is held at the lowest possible level by sealing air cycles.
The advantages of the VL 5i:
- Automatic workpiece changeover in the shortest possible time
- Integrated automation; low capital outlay
- Short travels between loading and machining stations, resulting in very short cycle times
- High degree of machine availability
- Ideal chip flow conditions
- Very short chip-to-chip times
- High Z-axis stroke of 300 mm
- Small footprint
- Optional workpiece measuring, using a measuring probe located outside the machining area