Heller’s new generation of proven horizontal technology cuts costs

With its new Gen4 H series 4-axis machines Heller reduces idle times while increasing milling performance – for the machining of aluminum (B06a) as well as steel (B06b).

Heller launched the fourth generation of the H series in early 2021. The 4-axis horizontal machining centers offer numerous benefits over the previous generation and stand out from other machines with shorter idle times, increased milling performance, reduced service times, and more flexible customization to customers’ requirements.

Heller has been known as a specialist for 4-axis machining centers since the 1960s. With the H series (H for horizontal) presented in 2007, the company then launched a machine tool that is considered the benchmark by users from many industries.

In spring 2020, the first machines of the fourth generation were put into field test operation at selected customers. “Our goal was to put the H series through rigorous testing under real-life conditions in order to launch a mature machine to the market at the beginning of 2021,” said Dr. Manuel Gerst, Heller head of development.

Since February, Heller has been offering the horizontal machining centers in the sizes H 2000, H 4000, H 5000, and H 6000, covering a stroke range from 630 mm to 1,000 mm: the first two models for tools with HSK-A 63, the larger ones with HSK-A 100. With a construction in modular design and many standard components, users have a wide range of options to adapt the machine to their individual requirements. In terms of drive technology, there are essentially two equipment packages to choose from: Power and Speed. The Power package has been designed for medium batch sizes and for the machining of steel and difficult-to- machine materials. The Speed package is suited for high-volume machining of cast iron, aluminum, and other light metals.

“With the Speed equipment package for the Gen4 we have succeeded in reducing chip-to-chip times by an average of 10 percent,” Gerst said. “One of the crucial factors are the short positioning times. In field tests, we were also able to demonstrate cycle time improvements of approximately seven percent.”

What has also proved helpful is the new AutoSet technology cycle for weight-dependent dynamics adjustment of the Z-axis and B-axis included in the Speed equipment package. The cycle helps to achieve the optimum axis dynamics in direct correlation to the load capacity. Moreover, the developers have optimized the tool change process in order to enable time savings for medium tool weights and have reduced the spindle run-up times. Depending on spindle size, these vary between approximately 1.4 and 2.6 seconds.

The in-house developed spindle for the Gen4 machines is available in three different versions: Power (PC), Speed (SC) and a new Dynamic Cutting (DC) version. All spindles are available with HSK-A 63 or HSK-A 100 tool holder. The DC units in particular offer a perfect combination of high torques and high speeds — with the DC 63 i version providing 16,000 rpm and 180 Nm and the DC 100 i option delivering 12,000 rpm and 400 Nm.

However, the high spindle power and the extreme axis dynamics alone are not sufficient to increase the machine’s productivity in practical application. To achieve this, the machine also has to provide the necessary stability and a suitable damping behavior. Therefore, the classic machine design with a twin-drive in the Z-axis has been maintained and improved with regard to numerous details.

The machines from the H series already provide high basic accuracy and surface finishes. In combination with the optional High-Accuracy package, a further improvement in these two regards can be achieved.

The integral U-axis of the Heller out-facing head allows users to perform contour turning operations on their components using motion tools. Moreover, maintenance and service work can now be performed even faster. The key to this is good accessibility to all units.

“Our zero spindles can be exchanged within about an hour as only the mechanical parts have to be replaced. The motor remains inside. As a result, our customers are able to save approximately 30 percent of running costs throughout the life cycle of a spindle compared to classic motor spindles. With the reduced downtimes not even counted in,” said Heller head of sales Fabian Mattes.

Not new, but significantly enhanced, and opted for by more than 80 percent of H series buyers, is the wide range of Industry 4.0 features available from HELLER under the product name HELLER4Industry. All these HELLER4Industry features can be visualized directly at the machine, in the company network or online.

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