Lehmann provides all-round machining solution to Rotron

Negating the need for additional expensive machine tool purchases, Rotron Power, a specialist designer and manufacturer of innovative rotary engines, has invested in a Lehmann CNC rotary table to support its machining activities. As PES discovers, the new acquisition is proving invaluable and highly cost-effective.

Established in 2008, Semley, Wiltshire based Rotron Power has grown rapidly to become a major force in the supply of rotary engines for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and increasingly for other applications. When compared to traditional rotary power plants, the efficient fuel burn characteristics of Rotron’s, high power density, low weight engines, provide impressive endurance lifecycles and increased range capabilities.

The cutting-edge R&D work that has resulted in Rotron’s global success within the UAV sector has enabled further aviation applications to be exploited. For example, the company has developed VTOL, an unmanned quadcopter lift platform designed for transporting a variety of payloads, also Skyquad, a flying car that is equally at home in the air or on the ground.

Recent non-aviation projects include a high performance, multi-fuel marine outboard rotary engine and a bespoke two stroke engine for a powered surfboard. The latest application for the company’s advanced rotary engine technology is an innovative racing motorcycle which produces 204hp and weighs less than 130kg.

In addition to developing the company’s own proprietary technologies, Rotron acts as a design and analysis engineering consultancy to a wide range of international businesses. Along with other services, the company provides concept development, engineering, prototyping and production management.

As Rotron’s consultancy contracts specify that staged payments are made by clients on the completion of specified design and development steps, the time taken to arrive at these ‘milestones’ is of extreme importance. Some of these payments are made on the presentation of prototypes and of fully operational products, therefore, in addition to the efficient manufacture of Rotron’s own products, the speed and flexibility of the company’s machining activities is vital to the commercial success of the business’ consultancy operations.

Sound advice

Rotron’s cutting-edge production capabilities are supported by the employment of skilled staff and through the use of a wide range of XYZ CNC machine tools. To enable further machining efficiencies to be gained the purchase of a CNC rotary table was recently considered. Following a conversation with the staff at XYZ, a decision was made to purchase a Lehmann T1-510520 model.

Rotron production manager Sam Bellefontaine explained. “As we need to efficiently machine parts with demanding levels of precision, we have invested in a range of XYZ machine tools. Our use of XYZ equipment has enabled us to develop an efficient manufacturing operation and over several years we have received excellent training and outstanding technical support from the company. Therefore, when the need arose to purchase a rotary table, we were happy to take their advice and invest in a Lehmann T1-510520 unit.

“The installation and interface help we received from XYZ and from Paul Tolin, Lehmann’s local service agent, helped to put the T1-510520 into use and enabled us to gain maximum benefit from it. The machining flexibility and speed that it provides is now proving invaluable.”

He continues: “Given the complex nature of many of the parts we manufacture, before using the rotary table we would need to perform two to three different machining operations – now we can complete the work in one hit. In addition, we no longer have problems related to the accurate relocation of workpieces for secondary machining operations. These factors have helped us to maintain our high precision standards and slash the machining times of many of our components.

“The relatively small footprint of the T1-510520 means when it is mounted inside our XYZ machines it occupies a minimum area of the bed which allows us to use additional workholding if required. It’s so compact that even when it is not needed, we can leave it inside the machine whilst other milling and drilling work is being performed. Also, when we are not using it, the rotary table’s low profile helps to increase the available working volumes of the machine.”

Cost-effective investment

Throughout the world production costs are constantly under pressure, and increasingly, the use of CNC rotary tables is being seen as a way of raising efficiency and productivity. For example, as it is estimated that 90% of all machining tasks performed by 5-axis machining centres are basic five-sided procedures, rather than purchase an expensive 5-axis machining tool, the fitting of a rotary table to a company’s existing 3-axis VMC represents a cost-effective, technically capable alternative means of achieving effective 3+2 axis capabilities.

As a CNC rotary table costs a fraction of the price of a 5-axis machining centre, the use of this flexible machining aid is being embraced by increasing amounts of manufacturers. Following the fitting of a rotary table, users report that their enhanced capabilities, reduced machining times and increased outputs results in rapid returns on their investments.

Lehmann CNC rotary tables are available in four sizes: 507, 510, 520 and 530mm with centre heights from 110 to 240mm. Thanks to the company’s innovative modular design approach, from these four basic size options it is possible to create over 170 different rotary table variants – from basic single-spindle fourth axis units to four-spindle tilting rotary tables with fourth and fifth axis capabilities.

Therefore, rather than purchase a ‘nearest-fit’ option, Lehmann’s customer focused approach ensures that each client receives a high-quality CNC rotary table that exactly matches their specific needs.

In addition to solving todays machining challenges, the company’s modular design system means that the purchase of a Lehmann rotary table represents a safe, futureproof investment. For example, if customers’ requirements change, rather than invest in a new table, existing units can be easily amended to accommodate any changes of use.

Lehmann’s standardised spindle arrangement allows the use of a wide range of workpiece clamping systems. As a result, in addition to standard workholding being set-up for an initial workpiece range, the system can be quickly converted to accommodate other workpieces.

pL Lehmann www.lehmann-rotary-tables.com/en/home

Rotron Power www.rotron.co.uk

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