Starrag and HAIMER: Turbine Technology Days 2018

Partnerships open up potential for productivity

Where airplane turbines are concerned, OEMs and suppliers must meet constantly increasing production requirements in terms of quantity and quality. Long-term partnerships between customers and suppliers are a tried-and-tested means of addressing this, as demonstrated multiple times at Turbine Technology Days 2018. But the process chain also offers great potential for productivity gains, as shown by various application-oriented examples.

The Turbine Technology Days have become the annual industry event for leaders in turbine production. This year, the event was jointly organized by Starrag AG and HAIMER GmbH. 160 participants from 16 countries traveled to Starrag headquarters in Rorschacherberg by Lake Constance to pick up tips on managing turbine production even more efficiently and reliably.

Mauro Fioretti, President and CEO of the Italian Pietro Rosa TBM (Turbine Blade Manufacturing) Group was invited to be the keynote speaker. The family business with 350 employees has been operating for 130 years and specializes in the development and manufacture of turbine blades. Fiore's conviction: “Small and medium-sized businesses can only meet the requirements of the aviation industry with strategic partnerships.”

Such long-term partnerships connect Pietro Rosa TBM with both customers and selected technology partners. An example of these is Starrag. Pietro Rosa has used Starrag’s machines, components and technological expertise – to the full – since the 1980s in Maniago, north of Venice: The turbine blade manufacturer uses not just Starrag 5-axis machining centers, but individually developed carbide cutters and equipment as well as the Starrag CAM system RCS. Pietro Rosa also builds on the support with respect to process design and simulation, in-process measuring equipment, process automation and monitoring.

Such a close collaborative partnership with customers and other suppliers within the process chain is also favored by Dr Christian Walti, CEO of Starrag since the beginning of June. He therefore attaches great importance to the Turbine Technology Days: “The event is a gathering of the entire turbine industry. The concept is recognized worldwide, meaning that key decision makers even take on the long journey from Asian and American countries to find out about the latest developments here. I am sure that each participant takes home at least one idea for further increasing their efficiency.”

The host, Dr Bernhard Bringmann, Managing Director at the Starrag site in Rorschacherberg, is also convinced of this. He goes on to emphasize: “We are not just machine manufacturers. First and foremost, we develop processes. Our high-end machine tools are part of these along with numerous other components. As a result, the Turbine Technology Days event we are hosting is not a sales event, but a gathering of ideas for process improvements.”

Event partners play the one-two

Logically, partner companies are also involved in the event. In 2018 – once again – the HAIMER group is co-hosting. “We have been working closely with HAIMER on process development for over ten years,” explains Bernhard Bringmann. “The entire product range, from tool holders, shrinking and balancing technology to tool pre-setting focuses fully on quality. This means we know that it works, and this is crucial for our customers in the aviation industry.”

The energy and aviation industry sectors are also key markets for HAIMER. Andreas Haimer, Managing Director of the family-owned company, reiterates: “We are pleased to be able to work in partnership on this event once again, in order to show our joint customers the added value achievable with HAIMER solutions. With our holistic product solutions for machine tools, we enable significant productivity increases with absolute process reliability.” At the Turbine Technology Days event, HAIMER is presenting itself as a system supplier for machine tools with a wide range of tool holders, carbide tools, shrinking and balancing technology and tool pre-setting devices. Andreas Haimer points out that “all products are designed to complement each other perfectly and also offer the prerequisites for network integration and continuous data flow.”

The close nature of the partnership between the two event hosts is made clear at several stations, for example, through Starrag’s own milling tools, which create process benefits for the customer through their workpiece-specific design. Recently, an alternative to the solid carbide version of this milling cutter has been developed. Bernhard Bringmann explains: “The extremely rigid Duo-Lock™ interface, developed by HAIMER, allows us to also offer exchangeable head cutters in carbide that exhibit comparable properties but offer easier handling to the user. This means we acquire shafts and solid carbide blanks from HAIMER with this interface, into which we then grind our specific tool geometry.”

Tips for efficient turbine production

Another station was dedicated to the efficient machining of stator segments (in the example: 11.8 in. length, 16 blades). The core element of the presented solution is the Starrag LX 051 machining center, specifically developed for high-precision, simultaneous 5-axis machining of turbine blades. The machine kinematics, customized tools and technological expertise make it possible to reduce the previous machining operation involving four clamping operations to a single clamping operation. The user saves time and benefits from increased accuracy.

Visitors were able to experience how Starrag implements its claim of “engineering precisely what you value” using the example of the 5-axis machining center STC 800 MT, which is excellent at both turning and milling operations. It played to its strengths by machining a two-stage blisk, achieving excellent surface quality and profile tolerances. The equipment designed by Starrag specifically for this component is also jointly responsible for these results. It uses integrated damping elements to prevent the disks from flying up and hindering the process.

A vertical 5-axis Bumotec s191 linear machining center from Bumotec, which is located in the Swiss canton of Freiburg, shows that Starrag does not just specialize in blade machining within turbine production. The high-precision machine demonstrates its strengths using the example of an injection element for aircraft turbines: Following milling, turning, grinding and deburring operations, the component can be removed, fully machined.

Bumotec has also maintained a successful partnership with HAIMER for many years. This means the machine presented at TechDays is equipped with the new high-precision collet chucks. The optimized design combines high rigidity with vibration damping and noise reduction. Concentricity ensures smooth running at high speeds.

Consider every element of the process chain

160 participants from 16 countries traveled to Starrag headquarters in Rorschacherberg by Lake Constance to pick up tips on managing turbine production even more efficiently and reliably.

It is not just machines and tools that contribute to process improvements. The CAM system also plays an important role. With RCS (Rigid CAM Software), Starrag offers its own CAM software, which specializes in turbine blade machining and contains many useful modules, such as an “adaptive roughing strategy.” Here, the forged blank is measured at various points before machining using a probe. This allows the respective material allowance to be determined. Based on the results, the CAM system adjusts the NC program, thus avoiding air cuts when roughing. Users benefit from shorter processing times, lower tool costs and excellent collision safety.

Two marketplaces with expert partners, whose products play a significant role in the process chain – from coolants (Blaser) to tool systems (Benz, Heule) and software solutions (CGTech Vericut, tdmsystems) – also made sure the presentation program was well-rounded. 

Starrag AG/HAIMER GmbH Tech Days 2018