Suck. Squeeze. Machine. Go.
Loyal customers and regular readers of our informative Evotech Performance (EP) News stories and blogs will be aware of our fondness for new engineering machinery – a fondness born of the need for precise machining and fabrication, while speeding up production processes. This fondness has led to the purchase of some of the latest available 5-axis milling stations, milling and lathe combo machines, and recently a new 5-axis milling machine that is fed and cleared of its work material by robot.
Because the worldwide demand for EP aftermarket motorcycle accessories has increased, we once again reviewed our production methods to understand where today’s science of engineering could help speed up production. While at the same produce component parts in typical EP fastidious detail. And if our search results happen to enable us to find time to have a brew* at set-times then we’d consider that a bonus. We (the EP team as a whole) finally made a decision.
Our latest acquisition is a Datron MLCube, a self-contained 3-axis bridge-type CNC milling machine designed to work on and around plate/sheet materials, specifically large sections of plate/sheet that cannot be processed by typical 3-axis milling stations with dual work tables. There are many reasons why we opted for the Datron MLCube, one being that although it works on large plate/sheet material, it’s actual factory floor footprint is very efficient i.e. it’s a small unit considering its capabilities. There are reasons for this, and they really helped tip the scales in favour of the German-made Datron MLCube.
With its high-speed milling and small-cut functions, there is very little side load force produced when cutting. This allows the clever use of a vacuum table to place and hold the work piece in position rather than traditional clamping, which requires additional (read larger) table space for clamps to be used.
When talking vacuum, everyone usually assumes the work piece is held down in the same way a hand is when placed against a vacuum cleaner nozzle! It is – and it isn’t. Because air is pumped from the underside of the work piece, atmospheric pressure above the workpiece increases to balance out the suction. In doing so the air pressure above the work piece also increases to basically push down on the work piece. Which is cool because it means we can machine large sheet/plate materials (usually aluminium alloys) up to 10mm thickness without the use of clamps. A special aerated gasket between the work piece and work ‘table’ helps maintain an even holding vacuum force – as well as acting as safety gap between milling bits and tabletop. We are talking 0.7mm gap here; a fair indication of the working tolerances we deal with.
An example of how the Datron MLCube is being employed at Evotech is the precise machining of many component profiles from one sheet/plate. We call this “nesting” and reduces the amount of milling waste i.e.milled chips of material. Saying that, it’s not waste in the traditional sense because we are dedicated to sustainability and carbon footprint reduction, so all waste material is recycled.
Several other plus points of the Datron MLCube are: 1) a long run time – key engineering staff can be utilised elsewhere during run time, 2) very slick software interface designed to be used by "non-machinists" as well as experienced engineers, 3) the milling capability can be upgraded to 4-axis (rotary) or add 4 and 5-axis for full 3D work and, finally, 4) like EP staff, Datron UK are big into motorcycling and Yorkshire Tea. Marvellous.
*Yorkshire tea drank from our revered EP mugs.