An illuminating chat with Eric about Kitamura machining centres
Paul Jones from MTDCNC came to our head office in Hove to have an in depth discussion with Eric about our new range of Kitamura machining centres, watch the video below:
The Kitamura range
We haven’t had the agency for that long, but we’ve already sold several machines into a cross section of industries. A couple of customers are working on automotive finding Kitamura’s very high speed features beneficial. Aerospace is another big industry, with customers working on aerospace components. Of course, more generally the Kitamura range are a perfect fit for sub-contract companies.
It’s quite a large range of machines, from very small capacity, high speed machines to 1250 pallet horizontal machines with very heavy cutting capabilities. There are also 3 machines in the 5 axis range, the smallest being a 400 pallet machine, up to 1m swing on the biggest machine (also available in a twin pallet version).
Kitamura machines are built to true geometry before they even apply the CNC control. As Eric points out, “people do talk about microns very loosely these days, but on all models, even the very big machines, they’re claiming 2 microns positional accuracy across the full stroke of the machine, whereas most people are working to a limited stroke, let’s say 300mm, and often at a lot lower accuracy than we’re quoting.”
Kitamura use high quality Japanese castings, unlike their competitors who often source much lower cost castings. All the mating surfaces are hand to get true accuracy. So when the control is applied there are no offset parameters entered through the laser calibration, it laser calibrates out to almost zero ensuring the machine is fine tuned in the process. Kitamura customers have often had their machines for at least 10 years and are still getting exceptional accuracy from their machine, proving all that attention to detail really pays off in the longevity of use for each machine. All Kitamura machines feature cooled ballscrews on all axes, linear scale feedback on all axes as well as thermal compensation on all modelsl.
Everything on Kitamura machines is made by Kitamura, including the spindle and the gearbox. The spindle performance on Kitamura machining centres is exceptional. 20,000rpm is standard on a BBT40 machine and comes with a 4 step gearbox which has been produced and developed by Kitamura. This gives you incredible torque at very low RPM, but also high speed if you’re working on aluminium or a similar product. It’s also very useful for people working on more exotic materials like titaniums or iconel, especially in aerospace and the medical industry who are looking to achieve high speeds and power at the same time.
The BBT50 models have 12,000rpm as standard, again with a 4 step gearbox. These larger models have 35kW spindle power giving you over 580 Newton meters torque at very low RPM, giving you the flexibility to use on very tough, or exotic materials. Although Dugard customers don’t present a high demand for machines with BBT30, these are also available on some Kitamura models. These spindles give you agility, and with Kitamura machines you also get the power to do some substantial milling. The spindle is relative to the machine you choose, 250/300 pallet machines are available with BT30 or BT40. Then when you move onto the bigger models the BT40 and BT50 spindles are utilised.
Machines with box guideway construction often have lower rapid feeds and movements, but that’s not the case with the Kitamura machines. 60m/min rapid traverse and a surprising 60m/min feet rate is offered on all machines right up to the 800 model. That in part is also thanks to the Kitamura control. Kitamura based their Arumatik-Mi control on the Mitsubishi M800, and this helps with the speeds achieved in 2 ways; they use a twin ballscrew drive
which means instead of using one big ballscrew, and one big motor, they can run the smaller units at much higher speed but of course still get the same strength; the control itself is very high performance, with 2700 block look ahead on the latest version, 30GB data server, and 67 million pulse encoders on the machine as standard.
There is no barrier to customers used to using Fanuc controlled machines, the Arumatik-Mi control, as Eric points out in the video is “completely compatible, I’d say 99.9% compatible with Fanuc, so it’s an industry standard control and we’ve not seen any problems with customers adopting it”.
Another point highlighted in the video is the weight of the machine, about 20% heavier than some of the competition. This gives the you the strength and the stability that you’re looking for in the machine. Added to that, each machine has an 8 point mounting system so when you bolt the machine down or put it on the floor it’s got 8 points, (a lot of our competitors’ machines only have 3 or 4 points of contact on the floor) so the whole package is really substantial.
Kitamura customers love the product, and are very loyal to the brand. One of the first Kitamura customers at Dugard have plenty of good things to say, particularly about the accuracy of the machine. Just load the job and they don’t have to think about it again, while with other suppliers they found they were often chasing tolerances on higher accuracy components. The fact that Kitamura have sold around 30,000 machines worldwide is testament to the level of customer satisfaction.