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Whether we are talking about North America, Asia or Russia, within the oil and gas industry, there is a spirit of optimism. Geological discoveries have led to a massive increase in the estimated reserves in many countries. Along with these discoveries, the potential for the use of innovative technologies has also increased. According to the expert estimates, oil production in the Gulf of Mexico alone will rise from the present 1.3 million to 1.7 million barrels a day during the next decade, with demands for the highly sophisticated technological equipment required to accomplish it increasing as well. Two examples are delivery pipes and casings. To create the connection safely and in perfect alignment depends on the threads on the pipe ends. With its USC turning machines, the specialists from EMAG Leipzig have not only created a tool that specializes in this application – and one that has perfected the production sequence for these threads – but also developed complete solutions that guarantee component quality and process integrity.
Economic key performance indicators for suppliers to the oil and natural gas industry change rapidly. An impressive example of this is found in the USA. The USA hopes to reduce its dependence on oil imports and instead invest heavily in new technology. An indicator, for the US, are imports of equipment technology for the American oil and gas industry, which the U.S. Department of Commerce for 2012 show an increase of 33 percent, compared to the previous year. The experts also expect a production boom in South America and Asia. For Brazil, the foreign trade experts at Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) predict a “high level of growth in new reserves“. And on the other side of the globe, the investment volume in the oil and gas sector of Vietnam alone has reached 40 billion USD, according to GTAI.
The experts at EMAG Leipzig are aware that this extraordinary dynamic has a direct impact on the production of the required technology. For decades, the machine builders at Leipzig have been specializing in the machining of delivery pipes and casings for the oil and gas industry. Many users can no longer do without their special know-how in demanding thread production. Frank Schiffler, Head of Sales, fills us in on the background: “We are talking about a gigantic production output. One steel mill produces up to 2 million metric tons of pipes per annum. Component quality is paramount for these because the pipe threads have to be totally leak-proof and must carry the enormous total weight of pipe and oil during the delivery. The machining centers used must ensure that the quality and efficiency of the threads produced is 100%.”
Flexible solutions for the production of pipes
The USC series from EMAG Leipzig Maschinenfabrik represents an extraordinary, sophisticated solution for this particular production requirement. Flexibility is very important in the construction of these turning machines. Not only do the different machine sizes allow for the complete-machining of different sizes of pipes with external and internal threads to API and GOST standards, they can also cut all proprietary threads. “The larger oil field technology producers have their own thread standards. We can adjust our machines perfectly to their demands“, explains Mr. Schiffler. For instance, all workholding and centering equipment is configured to suit individual requirements. The same applies to all automation components. As a result, the customer has an extremely fast production solution that automatically loads and unloads the components in 12 to 20 seconds (depending on pipe size and thread type), then carries out the 3-part threading process – from facing to chamfering and finally threadcutting. The output ratio therefore increases enormously, compared with that of traditional turning machines.
However, there are two important factors that must be taken into account when machining threads on delivery pipes and casings: processing quality and process integrity. The quality is guaranteed by a perfectly adjusted machine, with proven EMAG technology and the know-how of the speciality machine builders from Leipzig come together. The whole process benefits from the following important design details:
“This quality is a feature of all our USC series machines,” acknowledges Mr. Schiffler. Depending on the machine used, the max pipe diameter can be any dimension from 2⅜” to 20”.
Complete solutions guarantee process integrity
When faced with high production rates, fast machining processes and expensive pipe blanks, machine downtimes are particularly costly for the manufacturer. For this very reason, the process integrity of these machines is another key development area in Leipzig. “We design complete solutions for our customers, who – in turn – benefit from the quality of the EMAG components“, explains Mr. Schiffler. “In addition to that, we integrate, for instance, measuring stations, crack detection equipment, embossing and plating units and, of course, a monitoring system that covers all components. At the end, what we supply is a production system that guarantees the greatest possible degree of process integrity.“ Of similar importance in this context is the worldwide service presence of the specialists. Not only are both user and maintenance staff trained to perfection, a 24-hour 365-day telephone service is also available. This ensures that possible machine downtimes are reduced to an absolute minimum.
Projects from A to Z
How do the special machine manufacturers assess their market opportunities over the next few years? Mr. Schiffler’s judgement on the market’s dynamic is a positive one: “We already are the market leader in machines for the threading of oil and gas pipes; and we intend to further extend this position.“ One formula for success in this field is the famous “Made in Germany“ – which is a sign for quality. Over 70 percent of the machine components are made and assembled at EMAG in Germany. Every customer comes to Leipzig for the machine acceptance, where the first test run, using the actual pipe blanks, is carried out. Only then will the machine be installed at the production site. “Our particular quality of service kicks in long before the machine is built, or the central claim made by EMAG Leipzig would not be a valid one. Our name stands for projects that are carried through to perfection from A to Z, and that represent all-round solutions.“
See the USC series in action HERE.
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Automobile manufacturers all over the world were able to enjoy an increase in their sales figures, this year! The biggest increases were experienced in the USA, China, India and Russia. However, the rapidly increasing number of vehicles built also brought some production challenges – for instance, the sub-contractors must deal with the increasing output levels and also need to ensure that process safety and component quality do not suffer. In fact, even the smallest components with complex geometries must be produced with increasing levels of precision. In the development of the VLC 100 G Vertical Grinding Center from EMAG, our grinding specialists have made sure that the machine concept offers efficient, error-free machining processes for the production of small chucked components.
Small chucked components are typically produced in large quantities. The demand for components, such as gearwheels, planetary gears, chain gears and flanged components for cars, for instance, have necessary quantities that typically go into the millions; and short cycle times in the production of these components have become mandatory. For instance, the internal contour of a gearwheel must be ground in the shortest possible time and the machine’s workholding unit must be loaded with a new workpiece just as quickly. In many production environments, this represents a critical moment, because the idle time is commonly a decisive factor in establishing the economic viability of the whole process.
Automatic loading scores heavily
High output levels – short cycle times. This is exactly why the VLC 100 G Vertical Grinding Center from EMAG, for small chucked components with a maximum diameter of 100 mm, was developed. The machine utilizes its onboard pick-up system to load itself. And while one workpiece is being machined, the operator – or the automation system – is putting the raw-parts on the conveyor belt. This reduces idle time and increases output rates. Another benefit is the vertical machining concept; the design ensures that the grinding sludge falls to the bottom of the machine unhindered, where it is then transported out of the machine. (Click HERE for a video detailing the VLC 100 G Vertical Grinding Center)
Quality control is integrated
Measuring processes can also be integrated into the machine, making quality control an integral part of the whole process. The measuring probe is located between the machining area and pick-up station, where it is protected from contamination.
In use are two different grinding wheels
An important feature of the VLC 100 G is that it offers the possibility to use two grinding spindles, which can be used to perform different grinding operations, or to handle both rough- and finish-grinding work. In other words, the first wheel performs the “rough” job of removing excess material from the raw-part at high feedrates (the CBN wheel is specially designed to absorb the necessary forces), while the second wheel (with different specifications) takes over the finishing work to guarantee a perfect surface finish on even the most challenging geometries. With the help of this intelligent tooling combination, EMAG design engineers have succeeded in drastically reducing the grinding time of even very complex components. “For the removal of large amounts, two wheels offer a shorter cycle time than one, with the first wheel designed to do the rough-grinding and the second one in charge of finish-grinding work,” explains Dr. Guido Hegener, Managing Director of EMAG Salach Maschinenfabrik GmbH in Germany.
A convincing machine concept
The combination of fast loading and efficient grinding processes leads to a very compelling machine concept. The VLC 100 G works very well with the dynamic developments in automotive production. Now, with the rapid increase in required quantities, the demand is for new machine concepts that can be integrated into existing production without any problem. With the VLC 100 G, two features enable it to be integrated without any problems. “Programming the workpieces with our new EMAG NAVIGATOR software is simple and intuitive, saving valuable setup time. For many production environments, this is an advantage that should not be underrated,“ confirms Dr. Hegener. Furthermore, the exceptionally small footprint for the VLC 100 G should make the work of every production planner easier. The stand-alone machine occupies about 4.5 square meters (48 square feet), making sure that the growth of a production facility of this kind will not be limited by floor space requirements.
The advantages of the VLC 100 G
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Better component quality at a lower price? VL 5i, a vertical turning machine that is custom-made to fully meet the demands of the small and medium size manufacturing company.
With their VL 5i the machine tool specialists at EMAG have developed a comprehensive solution for small and medium size manufacturing companies. It can be used for small and large batch production, and complete-machines workpieces of up to 250 mm in diameter in a single setup. Flanges, gears, gear shafts and steering pinions can be machined with as much efficiency and to the same quality as brake disks or cams. The machine features a powerful 28 kW workspindle with a top torque of 300 Nm, plus a turret that accommodates turning as well as driven tools and has an impressively short indexing time of 2.2 s.
Drilling and milling operations can be incorporated by equipping some or all of the 12 turret stations with driven tools. The outstanding feature in this is the EMAG turret drive that combines high speeds with outstanding performance and a small space requirement. For instance, the diameter of the turret is only 360 mm but accommodates 12 stations and has a maximum torque rating of 45 Nm.
Flexible automation included
Proof of the outstanding quality of the VL 5i is, first of all, its integrated automation system. It uses a recirculating chain conveyor equipped with carrier prisms that deliver the raw-parts directly to a pick-up station for machining. This station is located behind the machining area, so the operator can – at any time – insert new raw-parts at the front of the machine. It is hard to imagine a more flexible and, at the same time, more universal solution for the automation of a machine tool.
Short travel times = short idle times
Another advantage of the VL 5i is its short idle times. Changing workpieces is a very fast process, because the distance between the loading position and the machining position is only 550 mm. The importance the EMAG turning specialists attach to the machine’s efficiency can also be seen in the design of the guideways. They are located outside the machining area, where they are protected against chips and dirt. This reduces the maintenance effort and makes the machine less susceptible to breakdowns. The machine can also be equipped with an optional measuring station, located outside the machining area. Here the component is measured on its way from the tooling zone to the unloading station, while still in its original clamping position. The measuring results are not distorted by the entrance of chips, as the vertical turning operation provides for ideal chip flow conditions.
Energy efficiency is very important
The sustainable use of energy and resources completes the picture of an engineering solution that not only offers a small footprint but also eliminates unnecessary design details which is the reason why the machine builders at EMAG can offer this machine at an advantageous price-performance ratio.
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Increasing demands made on precision and the push for the decrease of price of modern components is pushing traditional manufacturing processes to their limits. From September 10th-15th, 2012 at IMTS in Chicago, IL, EMAG will present three production technologies that complement or replace traditional processes such as turning, milling and grinding.
PECM for nickel- and titanium-based alloys
With its PECM technology (Precision Electro-Chemical Machining) EMAG presents a production process that opens up completely new fields of application. PECM is a process for the machining of high-alloyed materials, such as nickel- and titanium-based alloys. The disadvantages of traditional metal cutting – tool wear, mechanical stresses, micro-fissuring caused by heat, oxidization layering and the need for subsequent deburring operations – are eliminated, because this process is a non-contact one without heat input. All electro-chemical machining processes are characterized by stress-free material removal, smooth transition points and surfaces without ridge formations.
The advantages that the PECM process provides for different branches of industry are best shown with the example of a turbocharger for the automotive industry. The electro-chemical process is one that can be used to effectively in the machining of many high-alloy components, especially those in the high-temperature sector of the turbocharger – it also offers a much shorter and very efficient process chain. The typical clean-up operations necessary when traditional machining processes are used – such as deburring after milling – are no longer necessary. PECM machining operations are burr-free. And there is hardly any tool wear. The result: downtimes are minimal, when compared to milling (which requires regular tool changes). The process as a whole is sturdier and less prone to errors. And another important factor that our example of the turbocharger shows: the superb surface finish of the PECM process, where Rz-values of 0.3 micron can be achieved.
Will camshafts ever again be made of a single piece?
Another highlight is EMAG‘s heat-shrink assembly technology, a process that scores particularly well in camshaft production. The high degree of precision achieved with the joining process drastically reduces the number of cam profile grinding operations or – with the use of precision cams – avoids them altogether. Another benefit of the process is the ability to combine different materials in the construction of the shaft, such as forged cams (e.g. in 100Cr6) and sintered cams, which do not require regrinding. Accessory components, such as plugs and end pieces, can – like the shaft itself – also be made of better materials. This allows for the camshaft to be adapted to the requirements of the engine and to be optimized in load bearing capacity and manufacturing costs.
Operating costs reduced by 50 %
Production laser welding is already a highly productive process in the manufacturing of gearwheels. The use of diode-pumped solid-state lasers – such as disc or fiber lasers –reduces operating costs by up to 50%. EMAG has been involved with the use of solid-state lasers in the welding of powertrain components from an early stage and is considered a pioneer in the technology. EMAG again has fulfilled a promise to their users offering them the lowest possible cost-per-piece, by coming up with an innovative technology that brings true cost benefits.
For many applications, solid-state lasers allow welding without shielding gas. This not only reduces operating costs, it also avoids having to follow the annoying logistics imposed by the use of shielding and laser operating gasses. In many cases, the welding process can also be sped up considerably. This increases productivity and – through a reduction in energy input per unit length – reduces welding distortion, resulting in better component quality.
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High component quality with low production costs is required in many applications involving machining chucked parts. At IMTS, September 10 – 15, 2012 in Chicago, EMAG will be showing these solutions which combine these requirements. One of the highlights at the show will be the introduction of the brand new VL 2 P, a vertical pick-up turning machine which operates using pendulum technology.
Whether you want to manufacture small chuck parts or larger components, the machining processes must ensure accurate component geometry while also guaranteeing low component costs. These requirements and more are met with the VL 2 P and VL 5i vertical turning machines as well as the VSC 400 DDS turning and grinding center from EMAG. The advance in productivity is provided by the EMAG design of these machines with the integrated pick-up automation and a machine body made of polymer concrete as well as the vertical design which ensures perfect chip flow conditions.
VL 2 P: Swinging to success
Workpieces up to 100 mm in diameter can be machined in full on the innovative VL 2 P, a two-spindle turning machine. The machine has two spindles because while one workpiece is being machined, the second spindle automatically loads itself using the pick-up method. This means that the next raw part is immediately ready for machining, resulting in extremely short chip-to-chip times. The focus during the design of this machine was efficiency and eliminating idle times. The VL 2 P also has an incredibly small footprint due to its compact design, which helps decrease the chip-to-chip times. See it in action at IMTS 2012 HERE.
VL 5i: Short idle times, perfect automation
The VL 5i turning machine is a universal solution for production companies. It can completely machine workpieces of up to 250 mm in diameter in a single clamping operation. In addition to the powerful pick-up working spindle with a rating of 28 kW and a torque of 300 Nm, the machine also has an automation system with a revolving belt which contains drag frames. The machine could be described as being self-automated, which means that new raw parts can be positioned and finished parts removed at any time. Another strength of the VL 5i is its short idle times because the distance between the loading and the machining positions is just 550 mm.
VSC 400 DDS: Grinding and turning combined
The VSC 400 DDS vertical grinding and turning center combines a range of processes and guarantees extremely cost-effective processes in the production of complex chuck parts with a diameter of up to 400 mm. Within a single clamping operation, the center can complete scroll-free turning and hard turning as well as subsequent grinding processes. Grinding is only used where quality and process reliability demands it. The center can also be fitted with drilling tools or hardening modules to suit the required machining task. Even measuring tasks can be integrated.
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Leading supplier of electro-chemical technologies introducing new machines for aero, auto, medical and nano markets
Farmington Hill, Michigan – EMAG L.L.C. here today announces the introduction of its ECM and PECM machines to the North American market. As a longtime European leader in these technologies, the company will sell and support these machines with application engineering, field commissioning and technical service from its Detroit-area location.
Electro-chemical machining takes many forms, but all involve the electrolytic dissolving of metal substrates. This technique is often utilized in applications involving hard-to-machine materials such as Inconel, high-nickel alloys, titanium etc.
Because ECM is a non-contact machining process with no heat input involved, the process is not subject to the variances inherent in conventional machining, such as tool wear, mechanical stress, microcracking caused by heat transfer, plus surface oxidation and recast layer present with EDM (electrical discharge machining), for example. By contrast, the ECM process is characterized by stress-free stock removal, smooth and precise transitions in machining contours with burr-free surfaces. End products from turbine blisks to dental implants and automotive industry products are ideal uses for this technology, according to Tobias Trautmann, product manager for ECM/PECM Products at EMAG ECM.
The many advantages of the EMAG ECM and PECM technologies for the end user include: low tool wear on the cathode, ideal for batch production; surface finishes to Ra 0.05, depending on the material, suitable for high precision pro
duction in nearly all machining areas; reproducible cutting depth to <20mm; extremely high-precision machining; no negative thermal or mechanical effects on the material, so no changes in microstructures; basic material properties are unaffected; hardness, magnetic and other performance properties are unchanged; nano and extremely thin-walled section contours are possible, critical in aero and medical applications, for example; high repeatability, owing to the consistency of the mechanical components and predictability of the machining conditions; minimal secondary operations; roughing, finishing and polishing in one machine. The process allows users to employ multiple fixtures and run the process simultaneously.
Standard features offered on the EMAG ECM Basic Series machines are a Siemens S7 controller with full graphics display, current relay and voltage monitor, pH control and conductance monitor, temperature control module, machining area of 1150mm x 950mm (45.27” x 37.40”) and two-handed operator safety controls. EMAG also provides ancillary equipment interfacing for work cell set-ups, including pre- and post-op cleaning stations and multiple machining units, as well as robotic workpiece handling.
Precise Electrochemical Machining (PECM) machines operate on the same basic principle of electrolytic dissolution, but include a mechanical oscillation mechanism for more intricate 2D and 3D microstructures. All standard machines include EMAG scalable generator technology up to 30,000 Amps, pulse frequencies to 100 kHz and a machine base of MINERALIT® or granite.
The Premium Series further offers precision imaging, surface finishes up to Ra 0.05 (relative to the material) and a high degree of precision in lowering speeds, essential for micromachining.
Complementing this new machine series is the EMAG test laboratory. Users can examine a variety of test cut scenarios to determine the optimum conditions for machining, fixturing, process performance and materials specification, matching the requirements to the most productive machines and systems available.
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