While Huron is proud of its 130-year history of technical and industrial culture and of being a member of the exclusive club of the three leading French manufacturers of machine tools, it is not about to become complacent.
Huron’s MU Series universal-head milling machines, revered by several generations of engineers and technicians, have long since passed into history and been replaced by the ultimate in high-precision 5-axis machines. The decisive advantages in the handle explain why it has been a favorite in recent decades. Known since Day 1 for the extreme rigidity of its frames and the resulting natural rigidity, Huron is quick to assert the strong conservativeness of its engineering and design departments in this field.
“Our frames, which have long been optimized by structural calculations, have amply proven their outstanding quality in field conditions,” said Jean-François Killian, head of Huron’s R&D and engineering and design departments.
These field conditions are particularly demanding when considering that Huron supplies machines to high-tech industries such as aeronautics, space, defense, and precision molding.
Above all, the tools used and the forces they are subjected to during machining are factored into overall design of each machine.
“Companies in these sectors really appreciate the surface finishes and machining precision possible with our machines, particularly when they are used for working hard metals,” Killian said. He cited the manufacture of Inconel or titanium parts, two benchmarks.
Scale is no factor; Huron’s 5-axis machines handle small precision instruments and medical prostheses as well as large molds and aircraft structural components.
When it came to expanding Huron’s offerings by adding new drive solutions to replace, or provide alternatives to, the usual technologies, the meeting with Redex seemed natural.
“We already knew that Redex is a French manufacturer known around the world for making high-tech products with outstanding precision,” Killian said. “But when you take a closer look at their machines, you see that they are beautifully designed.”
The first discussions between Huron and Redex confirmed Redex’s ability to provide ready-to-use modular solutions perfectly suited to the most demanding machine tool applications.
“Quite simply, our experience with Redex is that the company reduces risk down to its simplest form,” Killian said.
Once the first project was initiated, Philippe Le Floc’h, Redex’s key account expert for France and Benelux, established close working relationships with his contacts at Huron’s engineering and design departments. As usual with applications of this type, the initial goal was to clearly identify the strategic parameters.
“We were quickly able to fully settle all the details of the specifications together,” Floc’h said. “After that, it was the responsibility of Redex to come in and to recommend sizes, options, placement, and adjustment methods.”
A Redex technician was even posted to Huron to actively participate in the initial set-up and testing.
“The level of technical discussions we have with Redex is exactly the same as that which we have long had with our suppliers of motors, drives, and linear measuring systems,” Killian said. “Like with Redex, we always choose companies that are world leaders in their fields. In any case, we have direct access to their top business specialists.”
For the sake of technical safety, the company chose to fit the first machines with mechanical preload drive systems. Doing so facilitated mechanical integration easily and, more importantly, avoided having to change the number of axes managed by the numerical control. Other criteria included substantial savings on the cost of the drive.
One of the advantages of this modular solution was that it could subsequently be fitted with an electrical preload system if necessary. This electrical preload solution was quickly used when required by other machines configuration. The results were better than expected, and Redex’s solution was immediately implemented on any subsequent machines.