Wood Business

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Seeing the bigger picture

Nov. 7, 2014, Hannover, Germany - Under the slogan "Surprisingly versatile," machine tool manufacturers at LIGNA (11–14 May, Hannover) are showcasing their machines' potential for uses beyond conventional wood processing. Established machine tool manufacturers are increasingly developing products for everything from metalworking to high-tech processing for companies in the automotive, facade, yacht building and aerospace industries. Interest is high wherever machining, sawing, drilling and sanding is needed. Solutions for processing plastic and composite materials are particularly widespread, with their rising popularity driven by today's highly developed CNC 5-axis machining technology. Today's woodworking machines can do everything that is required of modern manufacturing in other sectors, and very efficiently.

These days nearly every market leader offers industrial solutions for processing plastics and composite materials. The product spectrum ranges from preconfigured machines for various applications all the way to customized solutions. Machine manufacturers have their own teams of specialists for both wood composites and solid wood.

The resulting manufacturing technologies offer outstanding potential for processing plastics and composites as well as other materials: Heavy stands that absorb vibrations guarantee the necessary precision in handling workpieces. High quality table coatings – initially developed to withstand abrasive materials – prevent more delicate materials from being scratched. Manufacturers of woodworking machines can bring to bear extensive experience and skill with suction systems to remove dust and fumes. Innovative 5-axis technology with rotation and swivel axes make it possible to work at any angle and position – including freeform parts. Applications range from filigree milling and high-frequency machining to optimized interleaving and fine engraving. Facilities with vertical ranges of 50 meters or more are required for manufacturing very large components such as wind turbine blades or boat hulls. All processes can be carried out in a single workflow. Rapid tool-change systems minimize setup times. Individualized clamping devices provide the perfect fit for every individual requirement. High performance, efficiency and cost-effectiveness are ensured right down to single-unit batches with these CNC processing systems.

The leading providers also offer the invaluable advantage of expertise across the manufacturing process, including in particular blank cutting, along with CNC processing. Today's panel saws process plastic materials just as precisely. Add to this a comprehensive portfolio of ancillary machines and automation systems, and the wide range of highly specialized machines, tools and services that plastic-working operations often need for manufacturing can usually be provided by a single supplier. Lastly, networking these different machines significantly boosts productivity and efficiency.

When processing solid wood, it is chiefly automated planers and profilers that form the basis of innovative solutions – and they also offer excellent performance with plastics and foams. Undercuts such as dovetails and T-grooves are often needed when processing these types of materials. Universal spindles combined with a compact fast-turning hollow shank taper provide the ideal solution for processing during manufacturing.

Tool manufacturers play a central role as system partners. One trend stands out in particular: saw blades, mills and drills are increasingly being adapted to machines, applications and materials, which delivers significant benefits to the final industrial solutions. Optimized cutting shapes and innovative coatings result in break-resistant drills and saws that offer excellent service life.

Whether plastics, composite materials or non-ferrous metals, modern woodworking machines and tools can master any material without any major adjustments. Existing 5-axis technology offers full processing in shorter times and with fewer work steps, because a reduced number of processing assemblies carry out the production task and eliminate setup periods. And there is almost no limit to the possible shapes and sizes. Reason enough to take a look at the bigger picture – at LIGNA 2015, the flagship fair for machines and systems for woodworking and wood processing, which offers a lot of added reasons to be in Hannover from 11 to 15 May.

November 7, 2014  By  Amie Silverwood

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