Original Date: 10/20/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Numerical Control Waterjet Edge Trimming
Northrop Grumman recently installed a single gantry, two-head combination waterjet cutter and milling machine for use in its composite manufacturing facility. This machining center was designed to Northrop Grumman’s specifications by Flow International in Kent, Washington.
The intent of the machine is to greatly reduce or totally eliminate hand routing or profiling of composite parts. In the near term and in order to continue using many of its existing tooling fixtures, Northrop Grumman will accomplish the reduction through numerical control milling of the part net shapes. Long term plans are to use the waterjet cutter for all part trimming or profiling, and the milling head exclusively for hole drilling.
Northrop Grumman’s machining center consists of a moving-head gantry that carries a five-axis, numerical control milling/drilling head which operates up to 25,000 revolutions per minute. A unique water curtain surrounds the milling cutter which entraps all dust associated with the machining and eliminates worker exposure and composite dust particles in the rest of the plant. The same moving-head gantry also carries a five-axis, 55,000-psi waterjet cutter that is used to cut the net shapes on newly tooled or designed parts. Presently, Northrop Grumman has an 8 x 20-foot table mounted at each end of the machine footprint. This design enables the company to integrate the standard numerical control routing and the waterjet cutting technologies on a single machine. As new tooling and parts are created, the waterjet will perform all of the routing, and the milling head will be used exclusively for hole drilling. By having a moving-head gantry machine, Northrop Grumman can use different sized tables and fixturing throughout the envelope of the machine size.
With the addition of this equipment to its inventory, Northrop Grumman anticipates a cost saving of more than 4:1 over the manual trimming and drilling operations presently performed.
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