Requirements regarding energy supply systems in machine tool construction are high. Particularly in the workspace, they are exposed to harsh conditions. In this environment, the use of closed polymer energy tubes quickly pays off. This is also the case at the machine manufacturer Niles-Simmons, which today relies on the modular, robust and functionally reliable energy supply systems from igus and uses them in all its machine tools and machining centres. But the machine builder was also able to benefit from the very cooperative partnership, which extended to the new product development of a new high-temperature material.
The international company Niles-Simmons Industrieanlagen GmbH focuses its business activities on the research, development, manufacture and sale of machine tools.
Typical products are horizontal CNC lathes, CNC turning-milling-drilling-machining centres and high-precision milling centres. These machining centres always have a compact, very ergonomic and user-friendly design.
This is also the case, for example, with the CNC machining centre "N 30 MC", which is used, among other things, for turning, milling and drilling lorry shafts and large crankshafts. This allows workpieces up to a length of 4.5 m to be machined economically. The tailstock located in the interior is positioned automatically and is used to support long turned parts by means of a centring point which engages in the centring hole made in the front of the workpiece.
Adverse environmental conditions act on the approx. 4 m long energy supply system located in the work space. In addition to long travel distances, narrow bend radii and high additional loads, resistance to temperature and chemicals must also be ensured. Turning, milling and drilling also produce smouldering swarf that can burn into the material and thus impair the functionality of the equipment in the long term. In the past, a large number of our customers had asked for a metal chain for the work space," says Group Manager Michael Kamm. "But that was not to our advantage, because on the one hand it is unwieldy and on the other hand it is much too heavy after filling. We prefer lightweight plastic that is permanently resistant to hot swarf and high temperatures. "
This led to the requirement to develop a material that is chip-resistant, chemical-resistant and temperature-resistant. In addition, the energy supply solution should be light so that it can accommodate an appropriate filling.
To this end, the company has been working with igus for many years. Numerous different products from igus have been built into the machine tools and machining centres of Niles-Simmons. On the one hand, these include hybrid linear bearings and tribologically optimised polymer slewing ring bearings. Lubrication-free and maintenance-free, they are used, for example, for auxiliary movements to guide the sliding magazine doors and to move the control panel. On the other hand, Niles-Simmons also relies on plastic energy chains from igus, which guide and protect cables and hoses and thus supply the machines with energy, data and media without interference.
Due to the hot swarf in the application, a material was developed and extensively tested in the igus laboratory under real conditions that can withstand these loads. With igumid HT, a material was then presented in which hot swarf up to 850°C simply bounces off the energy chain. Since then, the material has been used in the interior of the machining centres.
Specifically, the machining centres predominantly use robust energy supply systems of the E4universal chain system. The E4/4 enclosed energy tube is mainly used in the interior of the CNC machining centre "N 30 MC". Side-mounted by 90°, it proves its suitability for everyday use in a rough environment. The so-called undercut design between two chain links increases the compressive strength and stiffness and provides the necessary stability. As the cables remain accessible at all times after insertion into the tube, maintenance and machine downtimes are reduced to a minimum. And to keep the overall system as short as possible in length, the energy supply system rolls up around the corner outside the work area. In this way, further valuable space is gained.