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High efficiency cutting of titanium plate

Growth in the aerospace and medical sectors is fuelling demand for titanium, prompting major suppliers to invest in more efficient saws to cut and trim plate destined for customers. Timet UK, for example, has installed it in its Waunarlwydd plant, near Swansea, a four-metre capacity block bandsaw from KASTO, which joins two older saws of three metres and two metres capacity from the same German manufacturer.

Business is buoyant, according to Timet UK, with major aerospace OEMs sourcing their entire supply of fan blade plate from the Waunarlwydd facility. Sawing needs to keep pace, hence the installation of the new KASTO bbs U4x16 block bandsaw alongside the other models in Timet's service centre.

Trimming of plate from the mill as well as cutting plate to size to satisfy specific customer orders are performed over two shifts between 6 am and 10 pm. The latest machine is able to handle double-size mother plates measuring 4 m x 1 m, which are more economial to roll. More usually it handles 2m x 1m, 2.5m x 1m and 3m x 1m plates, the latter supplied from the firm's sister operation in the USA.

Cutting efficiency using tungsten carbide tipped (TCT) blades is up to four times higher than on the earlier block bandsaws, as higher feed rates can be used. Cutting of 100 mm thick plate is typically performed at 6 to 8 mm/min, while 40 mm plate is cut at 20 mm/min.

Productivity is further increased by ease of set-up to fulfil a new order, which is important to allow efficient multi-machine manning and to minimise machine idle time. Whereas on the earlier saws it takes around 15 minutes to mark the plate, position it manually and set the stops by hand, all stops on the new machine can be adjusted in a matter of seconds directly from the control.

This has proved beneficial to Timet, as order sizes have been decreasing in recent years in line with just-in-time delivery practices and so that users can minimise the cost and space overheads of stocking large quantities of material.

Quality of edge finish is important, and so too is accuracy of cut, which is typically -0 / +1.5 mm. Even the older KASTO bandsaws still achieve this tolerance, despite heavy use for up to 15 years. The two older machines have been retro-fitted with a laser that projects a stripe on to the surface of the material to indicate if the saw blade starts to wander; the latest machine was factory-fitted with the same capability. An improvement in the latest design is double rollers to hold the plate down whilst cutting is in progress, leading to more stable, vibration-free cutting.

A further KASTO bandsaw was installed last year in the plate section of the main Timet plant, adjacent to the service centre. Designated hba U6x10, the horizontal bandsaw joined a similar, 15-year-old model for cutting blade material for aero engines.

Press release issued by EOS Electro Optical Systems Ltd on October 19, 2006


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