Workholding supplied ‘on a plate’ to Cambridge University

Following the recent installation of a DMG Mori DMU 85 monoBLOCK 5-axis machine tool at the manufacturing facility of Cambridge University’s Whittle Laboratory, a search was made for a flexible, comprehensive workholding system.

Given the important work performed by the busy department the proposed solution needed to exhibit robust, high-precision characteristics and allow rapid changeovers to be made.

After considering several alternatives the answer to the facility’s challenging needs was found in Lang Technik’s Quick-Point, a durable baseplate centred system that acts as an accurate interface between a machine tool’s table and workholding devices.

To enable all of the facility’s diverse workholding applications to be accommodated and mounted on the Quick-Point system, a further range of workholding devices were also purchased from Lang Technik UK, including a stamping unit, Makro-Grip 5-axis vices, Avanti base jaws and soft top jaws.

Opened in 1973 by the inventor of the jet engine, Sir Frank Whittle, The Whittle Laboratory is a research group within the Energy Division of the Department of Engineering at The University of Cambridge. The laboratory’s research projects cover virtually all aspects of aeroengines and the gas turbines.

Explaining the laboratory’s work and the reasons behind the recent workholding purchase, Dr James Taylor, compressor research fellow at the Whittle Laboratory comments: “The Whittle Laboratory’s research projects cover a broad range of turbomachinery and power generation technologies and we have an impressive track record of successful collaboration with companies such as Rolls-Royce, Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Our manufacturing capabilities, including rapid-prototyping and multi-axis computer controlled machining, allow us to design, build and test complex geometries in-house.

“We are currently involved in planning the new Whittle Laboratory. Due to be opened at the end of 2023, the much larger new facility will be the United Kingdom’s National Centre for Propulsion and Power and will help to accelerate the transition to zero carbon emissions.”

He continues: “As part of the company’s contribution to the new Whittle Laboratory, one of our collaborators, Siemens recently provided us with a DMU 85 monoBLOCK, 5-axis machine tool. As the majority of the machining tasks we perform on the new machine consist of one-off or limited quantities of development work and small production runs, we recently investigated the availability of flexible workholding systems that would help us to maximise our available machining time and reduce time lost in our regular set-ups.

“After evaluating several alternatives, we decided that the Quick-Point system, along with several related workholding devices from Lang Technik UK, was the ideal flexible solution to our needs. Also, in terms of cost, Lang’s quotation was also very competitive which made the decision a relatively simple one.

“Given the generous 1,000mm diameter of the new machine tool’s table, we have now located Quick-Point baseplates across the whole of the available area – each fitted with Lang Technik clamping devices. These set-ups allow us to quickly change between, for instance, vice type machining and larger fixtures that hold the roots of our different blade designs. It helps that, in addition to accommodating the new workholding, the flexible Quick-Point system is also able to securely hold our existing workholding devices.

“The speed and ease of use of Lang Technik’s Quick-Point and clamping devices means that we have now achieved our aims of significantly reducing time lost between machining jobs and increasing our productive machining times.

“In addition to the current benefits that the use of the products have provided, these machining efficiencies will prove particularly beneficial following the opening of the new Whittle Laboratory, when there will be another step change in the throughput of 5-axis machining work,” Dr Taylor explains

Lang Technik’s Quick-Point system functions as a flexible, accurate and highly durable interface between a machine tool’s table and a user’s clamping devices. Quick-Point provides a solution for every machine table and application and is available in a wide range of variants, including rectangular and square plates that are suitable for single or multiple clamping use.

The attachment of a Quick-Point plate to a machine table or faceplate is achieved quickly and easily through prefabricated hole patterns for common T-slot distances, bore patterns and bolt circles, or by customised mounting options. The exchange of clamping devices, fixtures and workpieces can be completed within seconds with repeatability of 0.005mm. As the futureproof system can be reconfigured and added to, it is able to constantly adapt to the changing needs of user requirements.

Lank Technik UK director, Gareth Barnett concludes: “In order to fully understand The Whittle Laboratory’s workholding requirements we appreciated the opportunity to engage with the workshop’s staff. Our suggested workholding solution is now delivering on all of the promises we made.”

Lang Technik


Lang Technik

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