Rainer Haberkorn: New development of multitasking machines for the processing of aerospace components


With its 150-year industrial history, Chemnitz is the centre of East German mechanical engineering. More than 100 medium-sized companies are active in this industry branch. Excellent competencies in the Chemnitz area can be found particularly in the manufacturing of machine tools and special purpose machines for different sectors. NILES-SIMMONS is the biggest manufacturer of machine tools in Saxony and in its 180-year history, it has always distinguished itself through innovative product and technology development.

Energy-efficient and low-noise airplane engines are a consistent demand of the still dynamically growing market for the aviation industry.

The development and manufacturing of these components in­­cludes complex workpieces form high-strength ma­­terials, which have to meet the highest accuracy requirements.
Cutting on familiar lathes and machining centres is notably characterised by the fact that several processing stages and tensions are coupled and extensive measuring tasks are necessary to manufacture these complex workpieces. High time expenditure and error sources due to repeated clamping are unavoidable consequences.

In order to fundamentally optimise these processes, NILES-SIMMONS has developed an entirely new generation of processing centres in cooperation with an internationally leading provider of jet engines.

These processing centres named “New Generation Lathe” have the demands on a multitasking ma­­chine in order to unite different technologies and applications such as lathing, milling, drilling, grind­­ing and measuring in a single, high-performance 5-axis machine.

The processing centres of the N30 MC series are already the most modern of their kind worldwide, especially when it comes to closed-door machining and cutting of high-strength materials (nickel or titanium alloy).


One of the success factors of the N30 MC series is the use of a hydropol inclined bed, which has, compared to conventional cast beds, a considerably better thermal stability and superior attenuation properties. Furthermore, the mixing guides used for the entire series – a combination of highly precise linear guides with attenuation areas of conventional sliding guides – are a precondition for excellent processing results.

The new N30 MC is equipped as multi-station machining centre with two 5-axis milling towers, which can be loaded independently thanks to a fully automatic tool change and have a tool magazine on both sides. Thus the N30 MC has an total of up to 288 tools (144/magazine side) and can guarantee the interruption-free processing within a closed manufacturing process thanks to an extensive technology spectrum. Com­­plex workpieces can be finished completely on both sides thanks to the transfer of workpieces from the main spindle to the opposed spindle, thus reducing the total processing time to a minimum.

Besides the integrated and fully automatic grinding process, which includes highly precise dressing, all tools and workpieces used can be measured in­­side the N30 MC with measuring sensors or laser (Renishaw).

With an integrated “Renishaw Sprint” measuring system, the user is able to continuously reproduce the meas­­uring results with a repeating accuracy of under 1 µm. The N30 MC allows the processing of highly com­­plex workpieces of the newest generation with a complete part accuracy of up to +/- 2 µm within a closed manufacturing process without operator intervention.
Process monitoring is included in the entire processing, which can detect possible deviations promptly. In order to avoid a collision when setting up the machine and during manufacturing (Manual/Automatic mode), an anti-collision system (for short: PCS-Protection-Control-System) is used.

The multitasking talents of the N30 MC series are already used successfully for fully automatic, closed production lines at several international sites of the engine manufacturer.

With this product family, NILES-SIMMONS has become one of the most competent technology providers for the processing of engine components in the aero­­space industry.

RHaberkorn2Rainer Haberkorn
The author studied Automation Technology at the Technische Universität Chemnitz. From 1990 to 2002, he was the head sales engineer at Niles-Simmons Indus­trieanlagen GmbH. From 2003 to 2015, he was responsible for the business units Automotive and Turnkey Solutions, before becoming Managing Director of Marketing and Sales in 2015.