Heidenhain, a global manufacturer of motion control feedback solutions, has established a new partnership with the Community College of Denver (CCD), making the Rocky Mountain region a focal point for CNC machining with Heidenhain’s Five-Axis Touch Numerical Control (TNC) technology.
With more than 8,000 students, CCD is a leading point of entry to higher education in the Rocky Mountain region. CCD offers more than 100 certificates and degrees, and helps students transfer to a four-year institution or immediately start working in their chosen field. Now, with its recent certification as a Heidenhain TNC Authorized Training Partner (ATP), CCD and its Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) will play an integral part in supporting and advancing TNC control applications all around the world.
In January 2019, Heidenhain announced that CCD’s AMC was the first Heidenhain authorized training partner (ATP) in the U.S. To achieve this, CCD’s faculty completed several rounds of advanced training on TNC controls and successfully passed an extensive exam.
CCD’s subsequent final exam covered not only TNC theory but also programming exercises with complex contours that can be mastered using “SL-cycles” and Free Contour programming.
“We are thrilled to be able to contribute to domestic manufacturing with these advanced capabilities,” said Matthew Sweeney, AMC Director. “It’s exciting to see what can now be done just by knowing what buttons to push on these conversational and effective Heidenhain controls. And we are just scratching the surface of what these Heidenhain controllers can do. Even the most experienced machinist can benefit from these advanced capabilities.”
Heidenhain has had a relationship with CCD and its Advanced Manufacturing Center since 2015, according to Gisbert Ledvon, TNC business development manager for Heidenhain Corp., Schaumburg, Illinois, Heidenhain’s North American subsidiary. “That relationship includes participating in multiple joint workshops held at CCD for five-axis machining, covering theoretical and practical parts,” he said.
CCD is now listed online as one of the global ATPs of Dr. Johannes Heidenhain GmbH, Traunreut, Germany, and other North American institutions are now invited to apply to the ATP program as well.
CCD’s Advanced Manufacturing Center is a state-of-the-art, 33,280 sq-ft (3,092-sq-m) facility offering degree and certificate programs in machining and welding. CCD’s manufacturing programs started in 1978 in a basic teaching manufacturing center, which was equipped with tools and machinery on a level respective to its time. The machine technologies department used donated conventional mills and lathes from local manufacturers for many years. Machines with cutting-edge technology were added in 2015—such as the latest welding equipment, EDMs, a dual-spindle lathe and most notably two GF Machining Solutions (GFMS) HPM 450 U five-axis milling machines with Heidenhain iTNC530 controllers—after the AMC was awarded a government grant.
That same year, the AMC received a high-profile visit by former Vice President Joe Biden, who highlighted it as a center for excellence in U.S. manufacturing.
The CCD/Heidenhain partnership began with a donation of three TNC programming stations to the AMC from Heidenhain management. With this partnership, CCD effectively uses its five-axis machines equipped with advanced TNC controls to their full capacity, and makes use of additional teaching tools for the students.
CCD and Heidenhain have hosted two five-axis machining trainings at the AMC with other partners, such as GFMS, CNC Software Inc. (developer of Mastercam CAD/CAM software), AME, Hartwig and Triad Machine Tool Co. Participants were shop owners, operators, local National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) association members and CCD students. In addition to the hand-on training, partners presented their latest products and features, such as Heidenhain’s Global Programming Settings and the Smart Machine Features OSS (Operator Support System) from GFMS.
In the first workshop, participants learned about the differences between CAM programming and programming at the machine (for non-five-axis parts). Colin Smith, a CNC manufacturing student who is finishing his Associate of Applied Science degree, noted, “Heidenhain’s programming language is safer than others. The offsets are always active.”
Another workshop topic included how to configure a machine’s post-processor in order to achieve the highest surface quality and cycle times with Heidenhain TNC controls (for five-axis parts). Examples that were given included optimal point distribution outputs from CAM, and correctly configuring Heidenhain’s contour tolerance cycle according to the machining tasks.
During the workshops, the AMC used the HPM 450 U five-axis mills for demonstrations. Parts were run showing two key TNC functions: Global Programming Settings and Adaptive Feed Control (AFC). With AFC, the feed rate was adjusted to the spindle load to show how to machine faster, improve tool life, and reduce wear on machine tool components, such as the spindle and ball screw.
Heidenhain trainers enjoyed watching the students and participants learn throughout the trainings. Feedback from the workshop participants was universally positive. Kai Curtis, a student who observed the TNC development control of a miniature Corvette sample part, commented, “It was interesting to see the machines used in that context. The Corvette is much more interesting than just another part.”
Another student at the workshop noticed how functions discussed in the presentations became live during the machining demonstrations. “I was impressed by the ability to compensate for small things like vibration and finishing, either automatically or conversationally,” commented Woojin Bae. “I see how it helps in the last precision machining step.”
Several CNC manufacturing students shared how much they were looking forward to their machining classes (such as MAC 202–Intermediate Mill) after experiencing these workshops. “We now know we will get access to five-axis basics and the ability to work on cool projects,” said CCD student Steven Reynolds.
CCD’s AMC will continue to host non-credit CNC machining, welding, wire EDMing, and lean manufacturing training, as well as professional development for all levels.
Author’s Note: Information about CCD’s academic programs is available at www.CCD.edu/AMC and information about its machining and welding continuing education trainings can be viewed at www.CCD.edu/AMC-Training. As a certified Heidenhain Training Partner, CCD can help machine shop operators and programmers train on their five-axis machines, enhancing their knowledge to accelerate to the next level of five-axis CNC controls. To register, visit www.CCD.edu/AMC-Training.
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