Photo: x-technik FERTIGUNGSTECHNIK

Perfect partners, highly productive result: CHIRON DZ 25 P five axis

GF Casting Solutions in Altenmarkt (Austria) ensures maximum productivity with the CHIRON DZ 25 P five axis. Clamping high-pressure die-cast components, as well as aluminum and magnesium components, is a key step in manufacturing at automotive supplier GF Casting Solutions. Structural components, powertrain and steering components need to be manufactured reliably and economically in large batch sizes. The new, DZ 25 P five axis twin-spindle machining center from the CHIRON Group, developed and tested in cooperation with the GF Casting Solutions high-pressure die-casting site, is making an important contribution to this.

read time: 10 min

Author: Georg Schöpf, x-technik FERTIGUNGSTECHNIK

Automotive suppliers have the challenge of complying with the ever-increasing demands of the OEMs. Large batch sizes of components need to be delivered, just in time, with reproduceable, ever-higher quality. Lightweight construction is of increasing importance and, therefore, so is the manufacture of bigger, lightweight structural components made from aluminum and magnesium.

Task assigned
Post-processing of high-pressure die-cast components.

Material
Aluminum, magnesium

Solution
Twin-spindle milling machining center DZ 25 P from the CHIRON Group.

Advantages
Short cycle times with high precision and reliability.

GF Casting Solutions Altenmarkt GmbH & Co. KG is a premium supplier for this kind of part. The firm was founded in Austria in 1972, under the name Alucon, and later was operated by Mössner Druckguss. It has been part of GF Corporation since 1999. For over 20 years, the firm has focused on manufacturing components for automotive production. Product and process development for high-pressure die-cast components is one of its specialties. »We are constantly facing the challenge of manufacturing bigger and bigger components. To keep the weight of the components as low as possible, you end up with die cast parts with low wall thickness, which creates its own challenges for high-pressure die-casting and manufacture,« explains Reinhold Brunnthaler, Senior Expert for Mechanical Machining at GF Casting Solutions. Over the years, the experts in high-pressure die-casting, from Styria, Austria, have expanded their knowledge and expertise for the necessary process steps. Now, they're in the position to offer the entire value chain, from simulation to high-pressure die-casting to mechanical machining and part coating, as well as checking for efficiency, and seamlessly documenting the entire process.

The benefits of the 25 Series at a glance

  • Twin-spindle machining of large-volume components
  • Optimum dynamics
  • Best possible access to the working chamber
  • ndependent X-axis and Z-axis compensation
  • Process easily visible thanks to separation of the operating and loading sides
  • Compact, flexible machine layout
  • Intuitive operation via TouchLine
  • Automation via robots or gantry

High level of in-house production
»Our services cover all process steps right up to ready-to-mount components, and we have all the necessary machining methods in-house. Cutting plays an important role in this. Our fleet of machines comprises almost 50 machining centers. With high-pressure die-cast machines with closing forces of up to 4,400 t, we machine nearly 14,000 t of aluminum and magnesium per year and each part requires some form of post-processing«, Brunnthaler justifies the high capacity requirements.

»Working together with the CHIRON Group development team allowed us to create a machine that perfectly fits the profile of our orders. In the end, it far outdid our initial list of requirements and meets all our needs, even regarding precision.«
Reinhold Brunnthaler
Senior Expert for Mechanical Machining at GF Casting Solutions in Altenmarkt

Customized solutions
The CHIRON DZ 25 P five axis twin-spindle machining center, which was first put into operation in February 2020, has a development story that fits perfectly with the process development objective of the GF Casting Solutions site. Dirk Schmid, Head of technical Sales Germany, Austria, Switzerland at the CHIRON Group SE, remembers »We've been working with Georg Fischer for over ten years now. There are more than 15 machines of the CHIRON Group working at the site in Herzogenburg and in Altenmarkt. We knew that the requirements for batch sizes and the dimension of the parts were constantly increasing. Because we wanted to support customers like GF to work more efficiently, we asked GF in 2015, whether they were interested in helping us develop a highly productive, twin-spindle machining center.«

 Loading and unloading during operation using pallet changers guarantees high levels of efficiency.
Loading and unloading during operation using pallet changers guarantees high levels of efficiency.
 GF Casting Solutions in Altenmarkt specialized in the manufacture of high-pressure die-cast components made from aluminum and magnesium for the automotive industry. These are produced in a wide range of batch sizes depending on requirements.
GF Casting Solutions in Altenmarkt specialized in the manufacture of high-pressure die-cast components made from aluminum and magnesium for the automotive industry. These are produced in a wide range of batch sizes depending on requirements.

The aim was to develop a manufacturing system precisely tailored to the needs of automotive suppliers for machining structural components. »We compiled a feature list with a precise profile of requirements for a new, twin-spindle machine concept. Of course, we started from the necessary machining steps, but we also rethought the composition of the machine from scratch. A shuttle table concept for equipping the machine during operation, as well as a quick tool changer for reduced change times. We also had to keep in mind the high safety requirements,« Brunnthaler goes into detail about the design.

»We wanted to bring a machine onto the market that was perfectly tailored to the requirements of the automotive and aviation industry. Operators like GF Casting Solutions were the perfect development partner for this. The 25 Series unites stability, dynamism and precision.«
Dirk Schmid
Head of technical Sales Germany, Austria, Switzerland at the CHIRON Group SE

Prioritizing stability and ergonomics
The main focus was on highly productive machining of complex structural components. This was one of the reasons that the CHIRON Group opted for mobile gantry design for the new development, rather than the tried-and-tested a traveling column design. »The result was an extraordinarily stable and rigid machining center which also fulfills all our wishes in terms of precision. We found out precisely which factors are relevant for cycle times and focused on those in particular. It became clear that tool changing and workpiece positioning were crucial aspects for this,« Schmid says. The turntables, mounted in parallel on the bridge of the A-axis with an 800 mm spindle distance, can be fitted on the loading space and swiveled in. Both HS motor spindles run on independent Z-guides, enabling mirror machining and compensation of possible component distortion.

 Experts from both the CHIRON Group and GF Casting Solutions worked together on the development project. (rear, from left to right) Wolfgang Prokopp, Dirk Schmid, both CHIRON Group; Dieter Brenner, Reinhold Brunnthaler, Frank Otto, all GF Casting Solutions; (front, from left to right) Michael Hintsteiner, Mathias Ahrer, Christian Fellner, Christian Platzer, all GF Casting Solutions.
Experts from both the CHIRON Group and GF Casting Solutions worked together on the development project. (rear, from left to right) Wolfgang Prokopp, Dirk Schmid, both CHIRON Group; Dieter Brenner, Reinhold Brunnthaler, Frank Otto, all GF Casting Solutions; (front, from left to right) Michael Hintsteiner, Mathias Ahrer, Christian Fellner, Christian Platzer, all GF Casting Solutions.

Capacity for high productivity
The significant rigidity of the machine allows high dynamics and very fast axis acceleration, as well as fast rapid traverse speeds. Two separate tool magazines with space for 60 tools each, offer independent tool change on each spindle for short Chip-to-Chip times of 3.5 s. With axes of 800 x 1,100 x 800 mm (X/Y/Z), it's easy to machine large parts and the spindle torque of 200 Nm at 20,000 rpm is transferred safely to the tool via a HSK-A63 interface. The new TouchLine operating panel is based on a Siemens 840 D sl.

»The positive experiences with CHIRON machining centers allowed us to win GF Casting Solutions Altenmarkt as a development partner for the new structural component machine. The previous machines are, for the most part, also universal. The DZ 25 P five axis is one of the newest developments from the CHIRON Group, ideal for structural components for the automotive industry. It's a true workhorse in terms of performance, productivity and reliability,« Dirk Schmid looks satisfied as he finishes his explanation. Reinhold Brunnthaler adds, »Our cooperation with the CHIRON Group was really very fruitful. We regularly refined the details together with developers until the set-up was thoroughly perfect. During the installation test phase we actually produced suspension struts for Audi and then immediately moved to three-shift operation. This helps us achieve the current rates of around 270 parts per shift; which is a huge increase in productivity compared to the old system.«

The CHIRON Group also offers a solution for larger structural components now, with the DZ 25 P five axis in one size bigger. The new 28 Series with 1,200 mm spindle distance perfectly complements the CHIRON Group portfolio. Based on the same machine platform, the new CHIRON Series are precisely designed for the various workpiece dimensions, covering the whole range of sizes and complex components for automotive and aerospace applications.

GF Casting Solutions Altenmarkt GmbH & Co. KG was founded in 1972 in Obersteiermark (Austria), under the name Alucon, and was later run by Mössner Druckguss. In 1999, Georg Fischer took over the plant and, since then, it has been manufacturing high-pressure die-cast components from aluminum and magnesium, primarily serving the automotive industry from its base in Altenmarkt. Around 600 employees manufacture 14,000 t aluminum and magnesium each year on 23 high-pressure die-casting machines. 47 machining centers and numerous specialized machines, heat treatment systems, coating systems and laser, grinding and deburring cells complete the fleet.

www.gfcs.com/en