ANCA Helps Aerospace Industry Manufacture New Composite Based Aircraft



Some of ANCA's major customers come from the Aerospace industry. Typical tools ANCA tool grinders are used to manufacture in the Aerospace industry include drills, endmills, countersinks, turbine blades and aerospace bearings. ANCA machines make tools that are involved in manufacturing components and assemblies for companies such as Spirit Aerosystems, aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing, aerospace engine manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and General Electric and a number of Defence manufacturers such as Magellan.


New Aerospace materials

Materials used in aircraft have continued to evolve and have recently moved to an increased use of  alloys and non-metals. The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner incorporates 50% by weight of advanced composites and is the world's first major airliner to use composite materials as the primary material in the airframe construction. It is designed to be lighter, 20% more fuel efficient, quieter and cheaper to maintain. It is also made from recyclable material designed to produce fewer emissions.

These different aircraft materials have different characteristics which has prompted United States cutting tool manufacturers such as Precorp Inc and Wichita Precision Tool Inc to develop new types of tools, geometries and materials specifically optimised for composites.

New aircraft sometimes require holes to be drilled through a sandwich of 3-4 different layers of different materials including composites, honeycomb, aluminium and titanium. All with tight tolerances and no delamination. Companies have therefore also had to develop new types of tools that are optimised for different layers and materials.

Precorp Inc has the resources & experience for complex applications

Precorp Inc in the United States uses their twenty four ANCA MX7 and RX7 tool grinders to grind custom polycrystalline diamond (PCD) and carbide tools for the Aerospace industry. Precorp has a long history solving difficult applications in both the Aerospace and Automotive industries. Specialising in PCD tools, they have found them particularly suitable for their customers who use them for drilling holes through materials such as the high strength carbon fibre reinforced plastic composites (CFRP).


CFRP shown on Precorp website
CFRP as shown on the Precorp website

Rich Garrick, President of Precorp advises that, "We have the resources to accommodate difficult and new applications. Our engineering team has a unique knowledge of the ever changing applications of our customers and they work to create the most effective tooling solutions. We have a wide range of tooling developed specifically for new-age aerospace composites. We rely on our ANCA tool grinders to grind the high quality tools our customers demand. ANCA software provides the versatility needed to develop engineered cutting tool solutions."

Building the A380 & Dreamliner is a global effort...

While the Asian market has been estimated to be responsible for approximately one third of all aircraft production during the next 20 years, many of the components for those aircraft will be manufactured in the United States. Airbus, for example, apparently plans to double the $US12 billion it currently spends with suppliers based in the United States. Europe is also the base for many Aerospace suppliers, with the Airbus A380 an example of how an aircraft is often manufactured from parts made globally.   

Major structural sections of the Airbus A380 are built in France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Due to their large size they are transported by a complex system of specially built ships and barges and on modified roads. Components for the A380 are provided by suppliers from around the world such as Rolls-Royce and General Electric.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is also made from components purchased from global suppliers. In 2012, Boeing purchased approximately 75% of its supplier content from U.S. companies. On the 787 program, content from non-U.S. suppliers accounts for approximately 30% of purchased parts and assemblies. Spirit AeroSystems is one of the many suppliers helping to build the 787 Dreamliner.

These are only two examples of the many commercial and military aircraft that are now beginning to use more composite material in their designs.

Airbus A380 flying
Composite materials account for 25% of the structural weight of the Airbus A380

Wichita Precision Tool know what their Aerospace customers want

Wichita logo

Another United States supplier that manufactures Aerospace tools on ANCA machines is Wichita Precision Tool Inc. With 15 years of experience in the CNC drill manufacturing and sharpening the company specialises in premium grade cutting tools. To accomplish its work, Wichita operates two GX7s, one MX7, one RX7, and one GX7+ ANCA tool grinder. These include the ANCA CIMulator tool program simulation software and iGrind, ANCA's versatile and easy-to-use tool programming software. 



Wichita's owner is Gordon Norris. "Completing parts on my machines quicker than others is our advantage," said Gordon. "Doing a tool a third quicker allows me to sell tools at a lower price while still providing the customer the advanced tool designs they need to do their work."

To meet his customer's needs, Gordon's tool design and grinding experience, combined with ANCA software, are used to engineer tooling from concept or sketch. "Sometimes we are asked to create and design many complex tools with difficult-to-manufacture features," Gordon said.

One of the ways ANCA software assists with Wichita's productivity is with the Drill Wizard which allows a user to create a step-by-step drill. Within the wizard is all the know-how of good drill design. ANCA software allows machine operators to create intricate tools easily while masking the required difficult geometry from the operator.


Technicut leads the way in the United Kingdom

ANCA exports globally and another large ANCA export market is Europe.  Technicut is the United Kingdom's largest tooling manufacturer. They provide optimised rotary tooling solutions to the Aerospace industry for materials such as fibre reinforced composites, titanium and nickel based super alloys. Technicut manufacture a wide range of cutting-edge tooling solutions on the twenty two ANCA tool grinders that they own.



Innovation is continuing for suppliers, tool manufacturers and ANCA

Certain features on the ANCA machines assist the customer's ability to achieve tight tolerances. These include the polymer concrete base which reduces vibration, the MPG Feed will allows the operator to safely step through new programs on the machine, the CIMulator3D software and improved usability in ToolRoom 2012 software. These type of features are particularly important in demanding industries such as Aerospace.

As demands for new aerospace materials are made so they are lighter and more durable, demands are also made on tool manufacturers who have also continued to innovate. ANCA tool grinders used by tool manufacturers have continued to provide the power, versatility and precision required to grind new tooling solutions. 

ANCA has continued to invest significantly in Research and Development and in additional resources. This has resulted in the release of new products such as the MicroPlus work holding and tool support system which reduces runout to less than 3 micron. Also the new MX5 tool grinder and other new machines which are in development. This can only be positive for Aerospace industry suppliers where more change is expected.

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