A Comprehensive Overview of High Speed Machines

Posted on Dec 18, 2020

High Speed Machines

High speed machines are mostly used for high speed operations in aerospace, and mold and die industries. Common types of materials used for high speed machining is steel, stainless steel, titanium, and aluminum. 

What Are High Speed Machines?

As the name suggests, high speed machines in the industry are used to undertake high speed machining processes, an example would be infamous high speed machining center. The idea of high speed machining was originally developed by German inventors, namely Dr. Carl Salmon in the 1920s. The idea was born when its inventor discovered that the heat generated between the work piece and the cutting tool would climax at a certain critical speed of the spindle when working with a specific workpiece metal.

Simply put, high speed machining is the process in which light, low-pressure cuts are created rapidly which are ideal for making molds with intricate cavity geometries and core, and structural components in the aerospace industry. These fast cuts in turn lead to an overall increase of the material removal rate. Technically, any one of the operations, or in a combination of them, can be defined as a high speed machining operation:

● Operation with a high spindle speed (n).
● Operation with a high removal rate (Q).
● Operation with a high feed rate (vf).
● Operation at a high cutting speed (vc).

It is said that to this day, machine tools and processors are made better, faster, and stronger than ever, and are constantly released at a rapid pace, each of which outperforms one another. Such a phenomenon goes hand-in-hand with the fact that both parts manufacturers and machine shops are capable of finding new ways to enhance productivity from the desired machine tools and processes.

:: Read more : Introduction to High Speed Horizontal Machining Center

Material Choices for High Speed Machines

As mentioned, high speed machining is especially prevalent in the aerospace industry, as well as the mold/die sector. In light of this, the most common types of metals you’ll see in high speed machining processes include steels, stainless steel, aluminum and titanium, which are the most suitable kinds of metals for the respective applications.

Since all of these metals are unique in their own way, each defines high speed machining differently. For instance, titanium metals are specifically used during the surface finishing stage of high speed machining. The surface feet per minute (SFM) may triple while the feed remains the same. Moreover, revolutions per minute (RPM) remains low during the roughing stages but may rise during the surface finishing stage.

Benefits of High Speed Machines

Contrary to popular belief, one of the biggest advantages of high speed machining is that it actually increases the lifespan of equipment due to the much less stress being applied on both the cutting tool and the machine itself. This means that much less load is also directed toward the machine itself, and tool wear would become less likely as opposed to the conventional machining processes.

Thanks to the increased speed and feed rate used in high speed machining, the material is cut so rapidly that during the process, hardly any heat is transferred. This helps to reduce processing time (because cooling and hardening take less time) while also reducing the amount of emissions.

Limitations of High Speed Machines

Several challenges have also arisen in shops with the application of high speed machining, which has very much to do with the material selection, acceptable geometries of work pieces, available space in the shop, spindle power, parts complexity, CNC machines for speed milling, tool life, and how trained the operators are. All of these factors are essential for high speed production to run smoothly. And when you are buying a CNC machine for your shop, these will be the primary factors to consider.

Now the foremost challenge is that not all materials are ideal for high speed machining processes. So you are really only limited to the ones that are well suited, a.k.a. the tough of hardened metals including hardened steels, stainless steel, titanium, and tool steel. The basic principle here is that in order to preserve the cutting tool life of the machine, different materials ought to be processed at the various corresponding speed. 

Another known factor has to do with the geometry of work pieces. The maximum depth of an undercut can easily be limited by those with internal cuts, as many manufactures warn. It’s also been said that the CNC machines that are not rated for high speed operations can end up producing lots of scrap pieces and broken machine tools, which is why a lot of these machines actually compromise at certain RPMs. Therefore, an obvious takeaway is that the individual machine’s capability is directly associated with the performance of high speed machining processes.

Proper Machining Strategies for High Speed Machines

The first and foremost task for high speed machining is to select well-suited machine tools. In compliance with the principle that the torque and HP requirement of the machine changes when the material changes, machine tools need to be selected carefully. For example, a machine that is suitable for the high speed machining of aluminum might not be suitable using other materials. Therefore, always examine the power and torque graph of the machine prior to starting any high speed machining operation in order to make sure that the machine will be able to handle the intended requirements.

Furthermore, proper chip-thinning and cornering techniques should be applied during high speed machining operations. This typically entails corner radius feed compensation, trochoidal milling techniques and rolling in and out. As many experts have remarked that using proper techniques will keep your machines from overloading.

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