FLORENCE, Ky. — Shops that have always wanted full simultaneous five-axis machining capability but were afraid to take the plunge now have access to a recently developed vertical machining center from Mazak Corp. that the company says not only helps reduce the intimidation factor of full simultaneous five-axis machining, but also makes automation integration a whole lot easier. While considered a solid “first step” into five-axis machining for some shops, the new user friendly and cost-effective VARIAXIS C-600 vertical machining center from Mazak is a highly capable machine, according to the company.
The machine fulfills shop demands for increased speed, stability and power as well as for maximum tool capacity and flexible automation options, according to Mazak. On the user side, the VARIAXIS C-600 features a 36" pallet height, which puts the center of the machine’s table 39" away and well within reach for operators. The machine’s control pendant is mounted in proximity to the front door and swings/pivots to accommodate operators.
The VARIAXIS C-600 is “automation ready.” Its flexible sheet-metal enclosure makes it suitable for a range of automation solutions. The machine’s design ensures automation integration for production facilities of any size, from job shops to large manufacturing plants.
As an initial automation option, shops can have a two-pallet changer installed on the VARIAXIS C-600. This automation solution virtually eliminates the non-cut time associated with part loading and unloading, according to Mazak. As the machine works uninterrupted on one pallet inside the machine, operators can load/unload parts on the second pallet outside of the machine’s work envelope.
To further enhance automation integration, the VARIAXIS C-600 provides both front and side automatic door operation. The machine’s full front door also spans from the top to the bottom of the machine, which enables user access and better ergonomics. An automatic side door allows shops to load and unload parts at the side of the machine, freeing up the machine’s front work area and eliminating interference between automation and operators at the front door.
Side loading also gives shops the option to add standard, pre-engineered robotic part-loading systems to single-pallet/table machine configurations. In those instances, the VARIAXIS C-600 can be equipped with through-pallet hydraulics and pneumatics. With these ports, shops can mount fixtures to the machine’s table, and upon part loading, the workholding sends a signal that triggers automatic part clamping.
Mazak offers four spindle options for the VARIAXIS C-600. In addition to the standard 12,000 rpm CAT 40 spindle, 15,000 rpm, 18,000 rpm and 20,000 rpm options are available in CAT 40, BIG Plus or HSK A-63 types. The 12,000 rpm spindle with a motor output of 11/11 kW (40 percent ED/cont.) and torque of 70/57.3 Nm (40 percent ED/cont.) comes standard on the VARIAXIS C-600; it is well-suited for machining steel, castings and aluminum.
The 15,000 rpm spindle with a motor output of 46/37 kW (40 percent ED/cont.) and maximum torque of 200/131 Nm (40 percent ED/cont.) is a high-power/high-torque option that further boosts productivity for cutting parts from stainless, titanium, Inconel and other high-temperature alloys. It also provides the high torque needed for running large-diameter tooling, according to Mazak.
The 18,000 rpm spindle is a high-speed option that has a spindle motor output of 30/26 kW (40 percent ED/cont.) and torque of 105/88 Nm (40 percent ED/cont.), while the 20,000 rpm spindle option delivers motor output of 42/26 kW (40 percent ED/cont.) and torque of 161/103 Nm (40 percent ED/cont.). Both high-speed spindles allow shops to achieve aggressive material removal rates, especially in aluminum machining applications. The spindles are ideal for shops that run small-diameter tools for light, fast cuts in finishing operations, according to Mazak.
On the control side, the VARIAXIS C-600 has a new MAZATROL SmoothAi CNC made for full five-axis machining while running peripheral functions. With its introduction, Mazak offers a dedicated multi-tasking and five-axis CNC. The MAZATROL SmoothAi control and associated software packages deliver digital enhancements throughout the machining process with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and advanced data management technology.
The control incorporates advanced programming functions to ensure high-speed, high-accuracy machining performance, according to Mazak. The Solid MAZATROL function, for instance, lets shop use 3D CAD data and an AI-enhanced machining process selection for optimized MAZATROL part programs.
Other MAZATROL SmoothAi functions include SMOOTH Ai Spindle and Ai Thermal Shield. SMOOTH Ai Spindle leverages AI technology to optimize cutting conditions and surface finishes through automatic spindle vibration detection, while Ai Thermal Shield ensures stable machining accuracy through machine-learning-enhanced heat displacement compensation.
For tool changing, the VARIAXIS C-600 offers 30, 60, 90 and 120-tool magazine as well as “random access” tool magazines (available on all but the 30-tool magazine) that eliminate the wait time typically involved with other types of fixed-address tool systems, making it ideal for shops with workpieces that have short machining cycle time, according to Mazak.
For a tool change, the random-access tool arm will locate the next tool regardless of its location. The arm carries that next tool to the machine spindle, removes the existing tool, rotates and loads the next tool. This allows the machine to get back in the cut as quickly as possible, usually within 4.5 seconds. The removed tool then gets placed in the closest empty magazine position.
When considering jobs involving 30 tool changes for example, the VARIAXIS C-600’s short chip-to-chip tool change time, combined with the machine’s rapid traverse rate of 42 m/min (40 percent faster than its predecessors), can potentially slash idle times by as much as 51 seconds compared to previous machine models.
“For everyone from job shops to major manufacturers and for production environments ranging from HMLV to low-mix/high-volume, the new VARIAXIS C-600 offers an easy way to enter the world of full five-axis machining capability,” Mazak said in a statement. “With the appropriate type of automation and machine features, the machine has the extreme flexibility and adaptability necessary to meet virtually any shop’s needs.”