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Compact 5-Axis Gantry Mill

With the FZU, Zimmermann offers a compact universal machine for prototype, mold and tool making.

VH10 spindle head design from Zimmermann, with 34 kW and 24,000 RPM standard performance.

Zimmermann has developed the FZU 5-axis gantry mill, a compact and thermo-symmetrical gantry milling machine for prototype, tool and mold making. Plastics, casting resins such as Ureol, and aluminum are particularly suitable for machining on the FZU.

"This 5-axis gantry milling machine provides an entry point to the Zimmermann machine line with maximum productivity. This development will enable us to close the gap in the lower weight class," said Frieder Gänzle, General Manager and Partner at Zimmermann in Germany.

"The basic expectations, which prototype, tool and mold makers need to meet today, have not necessarily changed over the years. They have simply grown," continued Gänzle. "Customers in the automobile industry in particular expect components with almost perfect surface finishes and ever higher accuracies."

Manufacturers introduce new models or variants to the market at ever-shorter intervals. Whereas prototype, tool and mold makers could previously plan in the longer term, they must respond today to inquiries considerably faster.

"We cultivate a special relationship with prototype, tool and mold makers," said Gänzle. "In discussions, it became clear that this industry requires powerful, compact machines with maximum productivity. We have evolved even further towards heavy-duty cutting over the years. As a result, even the smallest machine in our portfolio, the FZ33 compact, has become more popular. We have continuously pushed it upwards from a technological point of view. Its focus is on aluminum cutting, but steel can also be machined. This enables us to offer our customers a very efficient, flexible and space-saving machine, while the corresponding design improvements have also had an effect on the price. The FZU meets the requirements for an entry-level model, which is optimized for weight and stability, and rounds off our program at the lower price point."

Pre-Assembled Machine Concept

In contrast to the FZ33 and other machines that Zimmermann offers today, the company is taking a different path with the FZU.

"We can narrow down the special features of this gantry machine to three main characteristics," said Gänzle. "First, we are following the trend towards modern manufacturing machines and designing them as space-saving, pre-assembled units."

This means Zimmermann assembles the machines in-house and can then transport them to the customer by truck or ship without having to dismantle them. Onsite, they are ready for use in a very short commissioning time; erection and start-up require minimum effort. For the customer, this means quickly available machines, which can be installed without constructing foundations. "In the design, we have kept to the usual transport sizes. At the same time, the new FZU achieves a remarkable working range for its size," said Gänzle.

Thermo-Symmetrical Design

It is important to match the machine to the required dynamics. Adverse environmental conditions and long machine running times give rise to thermal expansion effects. In spite of customers' increased accuracy requirements, the machine must always achieve outstanding surface finishes.

The Zimmermann engineers have therefore designed the FZU gantry machine to be thermo-symmetrical. This means that the milling spindle, guides and other accuracy-determining components are arranged so that their heating is either compensated or they can expand in uncritical directions.

"This is the second important characteristic," said Gänzle. "The base frame consists of a steel welded construction, which forms a continuous U-shape. The machine gantry's centrally guided Z-slide has an octagonal section-and not a rectangular one like comparable machines-which makes it particularly stable. With a weight of approximately 35 tons, 3,500 mm length, 7,500 mm width and just under 5,000 mm height, we have been able to build a light and compact machine."

In-House Milling Head Implemented Throughout

The third characteristic relates to the new VH10 milling head, which achieves a high power density. "This new development has enabled us to reassess our portfolio," said Gänzle. "This is because the VH10 head will replace the VH12, which is not a Zimmermann product. Alongside the VH20, VH30 and VH60, the VH10 is now the smallest head in the range. Users will also benefit from the fact that Zimmermann has suitable spare heads in stock and can supply them on request in the event of stoppages, for example, due to a crash."

Compared to the VH12, the VH10 spindle head achieves almost double the clamping force. This is due to the fact that Zimmermann fits two side cheeks instead of one onto the unit. The VH10 is therefore considerably more stable in operation. In order to minimize throughput times, a powerful 34 kW spindle with a maximum speed of 24,000 RPM is used in the milling head as standard. "The FZU is suitable for the materials typically found in this business sector, such as Ureol, clay and aluminum," said Gänzle.

Standardized and Yet Individual

"In order to provide a high-quality machine at an attractive price, Zimmermann designers have increased component standardization while at the same time addressing individual customer requirements," said a company spokesperson. "As with all its machines, Zimmermann relies on a modular system with the FZU. This approach enables different size variants and power levels to be produced. There are also numerous equipment options that offer the customer maximum flexibility."

Zimmermann is able to provide an efficient solution with the new FZU. "We place great importance on details-an aspect that cannot always be measured in the numbers," said Gänzle. "For instance, the machining area is fully clad with stainless steel sheets in order to guarantee maximum resistance to abrasion. The FZU is also the first gantry milling machine to be equipped with our innovative NXP 24-inch multitouch controller, which is already used on our FZH horizontal machining center."

Another increasingly important topic is ergonomics. The door is divided asymmetrically to enable components to be easily fed to the machine. A small, easy-to-open door leads into the machining area, while the large door is used for loading. Operators have a relatively large field of view, rapid access to the machining area and ample space for loading.

Another detail is that a cabinet has been installed directly in front of the FZU. "This was the idea of one of our designers," said Gänzle. "The tables, which users in the various plants position in front of the machines to place their accessories and service tools, caught his attention. With our solution, everything that is part of day-to-day operations can be safely stowed close at hand within the machine." Added to this, there are extraction equipment and special chip management systems.

For more information contact:

Lena-Maria Kiesel

Zimmermann Inc.

30587 Century Drive

Wixom, MI 48393


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