Fraunhofer IWU has unveiled a new climate chamber that tests how ambient conditions affect the function of lathes and machines.
Temperature variation, drafts, and air humidity heavily compromise precision. This is mainly due to machine tools being thermally sensitive.
According to the researchers, operational precision can be disrupted when hall doors are opened in the winter, even for a brief period of time.
Most companies have manufacturing facilities situated around the world, often in environments without air conditioning. The result is machinery imprecision and product rejections. Power units and other heat sources like hot tools can also have a negative effect.
Drawing light on the new test lab, team lead and research scientist Dr. Janine Glänzel said that the researchers have successfully turned an existing thermal chamber into a climate chamber: “The new ventilation components, steam humidifier, and absorption dryer now enable us to control air humidity in addition to temperature.”
Thanks to a surface area of 40 square meters, a vertical clearance of 4.5 meters, and a removable ceiling, the environmental chamber is large enough to fit not only individual components, but also entire machine tools which are lifted into place by the hall crane.
Before initiating measurement, the researchers perform a simulation-based analysis to determine where best to place temperature and displacement sensors.
The scientists adhere the temperature sensors directly to the machine, while the displacement sensors are mounted onto a measuring frame set up around the machine tool and linked via small rods to measuring blocks at neuralgic points.
The sensors are capable of measuring the influence that internal and external thermal loads have on the machine structure. Temperature fluctuations are mapped automatically over the course of the experiment.
According to the researchers, it’s also possible to gauge the behavior of machine tools under long-term exposure. This allows manufacturers and users to configure their machine tools in advance.
When displacement does arise, the researchers implement corrective algorithms they have developed themselves to adapt production precision. The measured values are integrated into the corrective process.
The system also determines the level of heat dissipation from the machine tools before transferring it to the cooling system to save energy.
Image credits and content: Fraunhofer IWU