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Murata Machinery USA Highlights New Technology at Showcase Event

Geoff Giordano
By Geoff Giordano Contributing Editor, SME Media

In a broad-ranging display of high-precision manufacturing proficiencies, Murata Machinery USA demonstrated its turning, fiber laser, punch press and automated storage technologies Sept. 18-20 at its biennial North American technology showcase.

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Murata Machinery USA demonstrated its turning, fiber laser, punch press and automated storage technologies Sept. 18-20 at its biennial North American technology showcase.

Demonstrations of Murata’s nine core turning machines highlighted the event at its U.S. headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. Automation is at the core of Murata’s expertise, noted General Manager Jeff Kalmbach, built in to its single- and dual-spindle turning machines from the outset.

A key new focus for Murata has been demonstrating the applicability of its turning capabilities —already well established in the automotive industry—for high-volume aviation production.

“Almost every fastener needs a secondary operation performed on it,” said Kalmbach, who noted that much of the equipment on the market today uses older technology and is harder to use and maintain while not achieving optimal results.

Murata’s MW35 machine, developed with feedback from the aerospace industry and launched at IMTS 2018, was churning out precisely turned fasteners with chamfer and drill operations in under three seconds (in fact, takt time per part is 2.7 seconds). The dual-spindle machine produces about double the output of single-spindle machines with the same footprint and can handle multiple materials from typical steels to advanced alloys. Its Industry 4.0 data collection and communication ensure operators can account for every second of downtime when they’re making millions of parts.

“It’s the fastest, most productive machine we sell,” said Western Regional Sales Manager Troy Kattenhorn. “I’ve got customers who make 12,500 parts in one shift with this machine.” The “secret sauce” is the high-speed swing arm loader, which is driven by servo motors to load and unload parts in under two seconds.

Meanwhile, attendees saw first-hand how the fast, lightweight carbon fiber gantry of the MW120II allows the machine to cut about four critical seconds off cycle times. In fact, the X-axis gantry can travel 14,400 meters per hour (9 mph) when operated at 240 m/min.

“The focus is on reducing idle time,” explained Midwest Regional Sales Manager Eric Grob. Since the carbon fiber gantry is 41 percent lighter, gantry speeds are 46 percent to 86 percent faster, yet workpiece weight remains up to 3 kg.

In terms of precision, the MW40 is capable of holding 5 µm of total thermal distortion—about one-third the size of the thinnest human hair—using the Direct Dimension Control option. Developed for high-precision small part turning, the MW40 is available with one or two turrets and can hold part-to-part tolerance at 2 µm with a short (30-minute) stop thanks to compact, rigid design. One customer which had been producing 700 parts a day with three machines over two shifts with lots of hand gaging is now doing 1,400 parts in one shift, noted Sales Manager Gabe Morelli.

For improved chip handling, Murata introduced FANUC-fed oscillation cutting, in which oscillation is synchronized with spindle rotation in the feed direction. It is intended for roughing, not finishing, as it employs a series of interrupted cuts to break up stringy chips. Moving the tooling back and forth in the feed direction produces a slight air gap that reduces chip size. The function was demonstrated on the MW200GS.

For long parts, primarily cam shafts, the ML400 demonstrated its capacity to turn components up to 570 mm in lengths. The machine is available with one or two turrets.

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Demonstrations of Murata’s nine core turning machines highlighted the event at its U.S. headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.

In the next two or three years, further improvements are scheduled to emerge from the Japanese parent company, now in its third generation of family ownership. Those performance enhancements include:

  • MT systems: Improved toolsetter mode with mirror image. Expanded diameter of bar workpiece on the smallest opposing-spindle machine, the MT100, from 51 to 65 mm.
  • MW systems: Gantry loader capacity to be increased (MW400 capacity to 25 kg x 2 and MW200 to 12 kg) and faster carbon fiber gantries on MW40, 50, 80 and 100.
  • ML400: New slant bed platform with improved box ways and increased live tool power under both turrets.
  • MW-YM machines: Y axis expected to come to 8" and 10" machine twin spindle machines.
  • Live tool drive systems with built-in motor turrets to increase in horsepower.

“Our reputation for years has been reliability by design,” asserted Steve Landrum, North American sales manager of the Muratec Turning Division. “We’re extremely proud of what we do. We’ve got some amazing talent in this building, and what we do is difficult.”  

Murata currently counts 3,700 automated turning systems installed in the U.S., Landrum noted. The verified repeatability on the X and Z axis of every machine shipped is plus or minus 1 µm, he added.

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Attendees on the floor of the showcase. Customers and dealers who attended the showcase were also treated to an appreciation dinner, a barbecue lunch and a full facility tour.

So reliable are Murata machines, Landrum stressed, that the company has calculated the average cost of parts and service for equipment out of warranty at $500.

Also on display were Murata’s latest fiber laser and punch press capabilities. Its LS3015GC fiber laser cutting machine features 8 kW of power and a 100 µm fiber. Cutting routines for multiple material thicknesses were being perfected for the first customer prior to being standardized for subsequent units.

As laser cutting systems have become bigger and faster with more wattage, “the major difference with us is that we offer a smaller fiber for the heavier powers,” explained Sales Manager Jeff Tyl. For instance, he noted, Murata’s 2.5 kW system with 50 µm fiber outperforms competing machines using 100 µm. Because Murata’s system can cut using filtered shop air, per-hour operation costs can drop from about $12 to under $4 “so you can start getting ROI pretty quickly.”

Further illustrating Murata’s automation expertise is its expanding automated storage and retrieval (ASRS) business. With more than 12,000 systems in use globally, nearly all of them feature some level of customization, noted Sales Manager Michael Cossentine. Murata’s ASRS systems are vital in ensuring the correct parts are at hand just when customers need them—especially at its Charlotte headquarters. The highly organized system of totes is arranged in high vertical racks.

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Murata displayed the ML400 at the showcase, a new slant bed platform with improved box ways and increased live tool power under both turrets.

ROI from automated storage and retrieval comes in no small part from eliminating mistakes like having “the wrong box being delivered to the wrong place at the wrong time,” Cossentine said. “In a manufacturing or industrial environment, you can’t afford to do that, because the impact on the ability of your customer to generate income is exponentially connected to having the right part at the right place at the right time.”

The customers and dealers who attended the showcase were also treated to an appreciation dinner, a barbecue lunch and a full facility tour that included a look at all divisions of Murata Machinery including textile, fabrication and automated material handling machinery.

Murata will be showcasing its technology at booth A4901 at Fabtech 2019 in Chicago on Nov. 11-14, featuring live demonstrations of the LS3015GC fiber laser and M2044TS-S turret punch press.

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