The unveiling of a Starrag world first in Stuttgart: Heckert T55 five-axis horizontal machining center

“One machine for everything” is the principle behind Starrag’s Heckert T Series. At the AMB 2022 trade show in Stuttgart, the company will be showcasing the second member of this series, the new Heckert T55 five-axis horizontal machining center with the typical rotary-drive unit. It is ideal for multitasking complete machining of drive elements weighing up to 1543 lb. (700 kg) for commercial vehicles, agricultural machinery and industrial applications. Another highlight is that even with the new heavier design, users can perform serial machining procedures, such as turning, milling, drilling, skiving and pointing in one clamping position on a single machine.

“Our range of multitasking machines includes heavy-duty workhorses for large, heavy parts,” explains Jonny Lippmann, Product Manager for the Heckert product range in Chemnitz. “These have also been joined by the highly dynamic machines in our T series for a few years now,” he adds.

Setting sights on new families of workpieces

This is the second highly dynamic machining center in this series. It all began in 2018 with the Heckert T45, which immediately opened up new families of parts. “Heckert T55 has the same DNA,” Lippmann explains. “With its bigger brother, we’re now moving to the next biggest range of workpiece families, where very different tool sizes, collision circles and loading dimensions play a role.”

The two centers boast impressive DNA. Their new operating concept means that, just like a smartphone, they are ergonomic, easy and reliable to operate. Thanks to workpiece loading, they are easy to automate using pallet storage units or robots. Finally, they also have a narrow footprint. Lippmann notes that, “the Heckert T55 can easily be integrated into the customer infrastructure and therefore facilitates automation. This successfully manages the balancing act between complex parts and unmanned shifts.” In addition, the integrated condition monitoring system with spindle diagnostics and collision and chip detection ensures maximum machine availability.

The Heckert T55 is a highly productive multifunctional machining center with a very compact, robust machine design and a low-vibration rotary-drive unit specially designed for turning operations – including a highly dynamic motor spindle (15,000 rpm, 292 Nm) with an HSK-T100 tool holder for a high chip removal rate. It also offers the same range of machining options for cubic and rotationally symmetrical components as the Heckert T45. The machine offers a high level of flexibility thanks to the quickly rotating NC table (900 rpm), which enables integration with rotationally symmetrical procedures, such as turning, turn-milling and skiving. The ability to completely machine certain drive elements, such as planet carriers, facilitates what is now serial gear cutting and the subsequent rounding of teeth (pointing).

Maximum productivity thanks to minimized productive and non-productive times

The machining center with a 97 hp (72 kW) motor spindle can even completely machine complex, larger components in a maximum of two set-ups – with comparable acceleration (max. 394 in./s2 (10 m/s²)) and the same rapid traverse (3,120 in./min (80 m/min)) to the T45. Its dimensions have changed thanks to the larger pallet (20 in. × 25 in. (500 mm × 630 mm)) and increased travel distances (X/Y/Z: 34/40/39 in. (850/1,020/1,000 mm)). The Heckert T55 also machines workpieces with a much larger workpiece contour (36 in. (900 mm) rather than 24 in. (600 mm)) and weight (1,543 lb. (700 kg) rather than 882 lb. (400 kg)). What's more, in spite of these increased machining capacities, the chip-to-chip time has only increased marginally from 3.8 s to 4.3 s and the pallet change time has only risen from 12.5 s to 14.5 s.

Maximum productivity thanks to multitasking complete machining

Another strength is the automation that has already been demonstrated by the Heckert T45, particularly in larger projects. The Starrag plant in Chemnitz doubled the productivity of a manufacturer of drives, halved the machine’s footprint and reduced tool and handling costs by 40%. This was achieved by combining two Heckert T45 machining centers and one robot to form a small manufacturing cell. This could manufacture twelve different components of a planetary gear train – each with two set-ups. “The customer wants to avoid reclamping operations, which are always associated with losses of accuracy, handling and manual operations,” states the Product Manager. “It’s now also possible to implement similar solutions with the Heckert T55 for larger planet carriers or wheel hub drives for trucks and other commercial vehicles. The Heckert T55 is therefore opening up amazing projects for us.”

Targeting high-strength materials: Hard turning in Stuttgart

How can a machining center also machine critical materials, such as those made of cast iron or stainless steel, quickly and precisely to between six and three micrometers? The secret to success is the clever interaction between the temperature- and vibration-stable machine bed made of mineral cast and the double symmetrically mounted with a rotary- drive unit. Starrag will be demonstrating how dynamically and reliably the new machine from Chemnitz can machine even critical materials and components at the AMB 2022. It will do so using the Heckert T55 to hard turn high-strength materials and to machine a complex part from the mould construction.