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22-Jun 2022: Tool presetting2: Twin benefits

Licon employees use the Microset VIO linear for tools during internal production but also for tools in customer projects.

Tool presetters offer diverse advantages: They shorten setup times and thus reduce the idle time of the machines. They also ensure less scrap, and increase the tool life and process reliability. For this reason, Licon mt not only uses a HAIMER Microset VIO linear to manufacture their own components, but also for complex customer projects. This is because the LiFLEX twin-spindles in particular, benefit from high-precision preset milling tools.


Licon mt in Laupheim, close to Ulm, is an established manufacturer of machine tools for four-axis and five-axis milling. Christoph Czoske, Head of Project Management, explains: “First and foremost, we are a solution provider for machining tasks and supply most machines turnkey with tools, clamping fixtures, and equipment for quality assurance and automation.” Accordingly, the strengths of the Licon manufacturing system lie in its consistent modular design, which ensures high configurability when it comes to sizes, spindles, magazines and loading systems. 


Whereas around 15 years ago the name Licon stood primarily for rotary indexing machines for high-volume production, today’s focus is on building twin-spindle (but also single-spindle) machining centers for large cubic work pieces. This was the machine tool manufacturer’s response to the changes of the market towards smaller series and a more diverse range of products. “Our main customer is still the automobile industry, with a share of around 80 percent,” explains Christoph Czoske. “However, thanks to our innovations, particularly in the area of twin-spindle capability and independent axes, we have now opened up new fields of application such as the machining of large electric motor housings.”


Licon mt’s production is carried out exclusively at their Laupheim site – with a high vertical range of manufacturing. Apart from machine beds, the company manufactures most components in-house, including all clamping fixtures. Depending on their size and complexity, up to 80 machine tools or manufacturing systems are built annually. 


Tool presetting makes milling more efficient


LiCON has a diverse range of machines on their mechanical manufacturing shop floor for milling, including a Starrag Heckert 1250 Athletic, a Hermle C30U and a Dixi JIG Center 400. To ensure optimal machining results and high economic efficiency, Licon has been using a tool presetter for many years. Axel Mensch, who is responsible for mechanical manufacturing at LiCON, is convinced of the benefits of tool measurements outside the milling machine: “This is significantly faster than measuring manually and is much more efficient than using the laser on the machine. I save more than half of the setup time, because I don’t have to bring the tool to size in the spindle, measure the diameter in the laser and readjust the tool on the machine first. Our precision milling would be impossible without a presetter like this.”


As the previous presetter was no longer able to achieve the desired performance, and required too much maintenance, those responsible started to search for a new solution. They found it at HAIMER. A Microset VIO linear tool presetter was selected, which perfectly matched Licon’s requirements with the best price-performance ration. 


Fully automated measurement with the highest accuracy


Looked at in detail, there are several reasons for this choice. HAIMER has a longstanding reputation as a supplier of high-quality tool holders. A bonus, which the manufacturing managers considered when looking closely into the HAIMER Microset program for tool presetting. 


The modular concept was a benefit of the VIO linear, a fully automated high-end machine with linear drive. The system enables presetting and measuring of diverse tools up to 1000 mm diameter and length. It is based on a FEM-optimized, thermo-stable cast iron design, which ensures high rigidity and precise measurement results over the long term. This machine concept eliminates the need for frequent calibration of the presetter. 


The machine is supported by a highly dynamic, wear-free linear drive. The parallel drive and guide system ensure an ideal distribution of force, and guarantee a measurement repeatability of ±2 μm. An optical camera performs the actual measurement and is considerably more precise compared to manual methods. Automatic focusing and measuring allow measurement deviations to be reduced independently of the operator.


“We use the Microset VIO linear for our internal manufacturing, where different machines require a very wide range of spindle interfaces and tools,” explains Axel Mensch. “Every machine operator uses it for their tools, which is why the ISS spindle, the automatic adapter identification and the Sigma function are particularly beneficial to us.” 


To explain: The ISS-U universal ultra-high precision spindle enables extremely accurate direct clamping, without the need for adaptors, at the highest clamping forces of up to 20 kN and runout accuracy of less than 2 μm. This achieves a consistent clamping force and very high repeatability when clamping and is not dependent on the operator. The benefit of automatic adapter recognition is that the software automatically selects the correct zero points, which eliminates these kinds of errors and thus prevents collisions in the machine. The Sigma function facilitates the measurement of tools with multiple cutting edges in the X and Z direction with subsequent take-over of the maximal values. It is no longer necessary to focus on individual cutting edges and an overview of all the measurement values is created.


Ideal for Licon customer processes


Christoph Czoske explains the second important field of application of the HAIMER Microset VIO linear: “The presetter is also very important for our customer processes as our customers generally purchase a complete process. This means we test the tools in house, and therefore, also need to perform measurements and presetting.”


He explains that at LiCON, almostexclusively uses special tools that need to be precisely measured to ensure the best possible process performance for complex components, such as gearbox housings or electric drive housings. “The advantages of high-precision tool presetting come into their own with our LiFLEX twin-spindle machines. This is because both spindles can be corrected fully automatically and independently of each other based on the detected tool geometry. This applies to both the machining depths and, if required, different circular paths during circular milling due to different tool diameters.”


The Head of Process Management talks about the innovative i-technology, with which all LiFLEX twin-spindles are now equipped. First of all, it allows for the possibility to make corrections in the Z direction independent of the spindle. Licon has recently started offering the extended i³ option to meet particularly high demands on part quality. It enables complete correction of the tool geometry by up to 5 mm in the X, Y and Z directions on both spindles independently of one other. The result: less tool reworking, less tool management complexity, maximum accuracy and lower tool costs.


This is why Christoph Czoske considers the use of a fully automated, high-precision tool presetter like the HAIMER Microset VIO linear together with an i3-LiFLEX twin spindle to be the ideal combination: “The i³ technology enables all tool data to be processed in the NC program fully automatically. The milling radius and length of the tools can also be corrected independently on every spindle and every axes. This means customers don’t always have to use the exact same tools, but can use individual tools until the end of their tool life, which saves thousands of Euros in tool costs over their tool life.”

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