Machining Marvels: Soraluce’s Active Damping Tech Revolutionizes Metal Cutting

If you had to choose just one accessory to bring on long flights, there is a strong argument to be made for noise-canceling headphones. It is still a common misperception that the technology behind these devices is closer to “white noise” than the actual cancelation of sound, but that is not exactly true. Active noise cancelation in modern headphones works by using a small microphone located near the ear to measure the frequency and amplitude of incoming sound waves, then emitting opposing sound waves to offset and “cancel” the incoming sound. By aligning the peaks of the “noise” sound waves with the valleys of the outgoing sound waves, you could say that noise-canceling headphones are equal parts white-noise and anti-noise devices — the sound they emit is calibrated to offset incoming waveforms and effectively remove them from your field of perception.

As frequent flyers know, noise-canceling headphones are particularly good at counterbalancing steady, low-frequency sounds such as those made by airplane engines and HVAC systems. Frequencies between 50 Hz and 1 kHz generate longer and more predictable waveforms, which is why noise-canceling headphones work well against the low rumble of an airplane engine and not so much the higher, unpredictable frequencies generated by the crying toddler in the row behind you.

Revolutionizing Metal Cutting with Active Damping: A Visit to Soraluce’s Production Campus

This past summer on a visit to the production headquarters of machine tool builder Soraluce, I learned the same principle of physics can be used for an entirely different purpose in the world of metal cutting.

In the Basque region of northern Spain, I visited Soraluce’s central production campus in the city of Bergara, where the 60-year-old company — well known throughout Europe and Asia for its turnkey solutions and high-precision line of CNC mills, boring machines, vertical lathes and multitasking machines — was showcasing its latest innovations. The company was also debuting its new LEED-certified 30,000 square-foot assembly plant, situated against a lush green backdrop near the Deba River.

I was invited to Soraluce by my friends at Select Machining Technologies, the company’s U.S. distributor and a division of the Morris Group, who have partnered with the Spanish OEM to help expand its reach into the United States. Taking center stage at the Soraluce Summit was the worldwide debut of its new Performance Line — an extension of its product portfolio for medium- and large-sized parts for industrial vehicles, automotive, aerospace, and the oil and gas industries.

The Performance Line machines include several notable features, including direct-drive inline motors that provide high torque in the spindle, several available setups (including massive fixed, rotary and turning tables), modular designs with countless potential architectures, and a wide range of high-performance automatic indexing heads that can handle metals and alloys from aluminum and steel to titanium and Inconel.

But what really caught my eyes — and ears — was the technology that enables Soraluce machine tools to eliminate chatter and greatly expand the performance of its machines.

Active Damping: A 15-Year Project Bearing Fruit

Soraluce is part of the Danobatgroup, a manufacturing co-op that collectively represents one of Europe’s largest machine-tool builders. For the past few years, Soraluce has been working with Select Machining Technologies in the U.S., with notable success.

One of our last stops on the tour took us to the Danobatgroup’s research and technology center, Ideko. There, a team of more than 100 scientists (35% of whom hold PhDs) research and innovate technology-based solutions in the fields of manufacturing and industrial production. It took the Ideko scientists 15 years to industrialize Soraluce’s first active damping system, known as DAS. During the tour, Oier Elguezabal gave us a hint at how they did it.

Ways & Means: Applying Active Damping to Metal Cutting

One of the fundamental decisions that faces any machine tool builder is selecting the type of way system that will guide the moving components of the machine. Hydrostatic guideways include pressurized films of oil that provide near-frictionless contact between the rail and carriage, while linear guideways achieve smooth linear movement through internal steel bearings within the guide block. Each of these systems has inherent advantages and disadvantages that are dependent on several variables, namely the intended use of the machine.

Traditionally, hydrostatic guideways have been the typical choice of OEMs that build large-format CNCs, due in part to oil’s ability to dampen or reduce vibrations that occur in the spindle head. When Soraluce instead chose linear guiding systems, the company was essentially placing a bet on the advantages it saw in linear guideways — accuracy, ease of maintenance, energy savings and lower costs among them — knowing tit would need to offset the decreased damping capacity. The thinking, Oier Elguezabal said, was to combine the newer technology’s advantages with solutions that offset the main disadvantage.

The first strategy was to choose top-quality linear guideways, and for that the company turned to Schaeffler, the German supplier of high-precision components for automotive and industrial applications. Soraluce worked directly with Schaeffler to introduce hydrostatic damping pads into the guideways that greatly increase its damping abilities.

Dynamic Active Stabilizer (DAS): A Marvel of Metal Cutting

But the unique innovation that the engineers at Soraluce and Ideko developed — soon patented under the name Dynamic Active Stabilizer, or DAS — was something altogether different. Much like the algorithms that invert sound waves to achieve noise cancelation, “active damping” — which is a standard feature on all of Soraluce’s portal machining centers and heavy-duty floor type milling machines — is designed to offset or “cancel” vibration and chatter that occurs at low frequencies. To achieve this, two electromagnetic actuators

Original Article can be found on Modern Machine Shop

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