Mitsui Seiki takes a look at optics for hole-making

  • 30-Jun-2008 09:55 EDT

With the VLD-300, customers get a Mitsui Seiki machine with a laser, not a laser with machine-tool features as secondary.

After three years of collaborative development with aerospace engine components suppliers seeking a drilling machine with higher speeds and more accuracy, Mitsui Seiki has launched the VLD-300 five-axis vertical CNC laser driller. The company says it is common for some workpieces, primarily jet-engine high-temperature alloy parts, to require about 3000 small-diameter cooling airflow holes—each at a different angle—to be drilled in a noncontact manner. Laser is often the best option for speed and for minimizing material stress. Inconel, Waspalloy, Hastalloy, and nickel-based titanium alloys are the typical materials used.

The small, vertical, Nd:YAG laser drilling machine is designed for 12-in3 parts. It boasts positioning accuracy and repeatability in X, Y, Z axes of 0.00004 in. A-axis positioning accuracy is ±6 arc s and repeatability is ±3 arc s. C-axis accuracy is ±4 arc s and repeatability is ±2 arc s. X, Y, Z-axes cutting feed rate is 0.004 to 787 in. X, Y, Z-axes acceleration rate is 1.5 g.

The VLD-300 is designed to also work with CO2, diode pump, and fiber lasers for different aerospace and other industry applications, such as certain electronics, medical, and automotive parts. Mitsui Seiki partnered with a European laser company for the Nd:YAG version of the new machine.

“What is unique about the Mitsui Seiki laser drilling machine is that it takes our traditional, highly precise, and extremely repeatable machine-tool building methodology and applies a laser rather mechanical drilling tools,” said Tom Dolan, Vice President, Mitsui Seiki USA. “That’s what customers wanted: a Mitsui Seiki machine with a laser, not a laser with machine-tool features as secondary. Laser technology has come a long way over the past 10 years, but precise motion control and high accuracy was lacking until now. Our innovative approach to machine tool building is applied to this small-footprint machine, and this allowed us to incorporate a fairly simple, effective beam delivery system. The optic system has just one axis of motion, Z, and one bending mirror for easy maintenance and beam alignment simplicity.”

For rigidity and stability, the VLD-300 has a cast-iron bed and linear motor drives. A dust-collection system, combined with an interior work area of smooth, highly sloped surfaces, keeps cutting debris from contaminating the work zone and equipment. The Nd:YAG system offers a focal length of 200 mm or 300 mm with a height sensor for scanning and work offset probing. The machine is “automation-ready” for devices such as pallets and robotic loading/unloading equipment. A Fanuc 310iM control features the Microsoft Windows-based platform and seamlessly controls the machine, laser, and auxiliary equipment.

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