Aerospace manufacturing expertise combined in one center

Published
May 31,2022 - 07:00am
Aerospace blisk

The Starrag site in Rorschacherberg in Switzerland is synonymous with highly productive, long-lasting machining solutions in the aircraft industry.

This is what made this site the perfect choice for the Starrag Competence Center Aerospace — an initiative to combine the expertise already available within the group in terms of manufacturing turbines and structural components. 

The aerospace industry has been one of Starrag's core markets ever since the company began to build machine tools in the early 20th century — and this is still the case today, said Dr. Bernhard Bringmann, managing director at the Rorschacherberg site and Head of the High Performance Systems business unit.

"Over the years, we have built up a vast and diverse knowledge — not just of our own machines, but of the entire manufacturing process for components that are often used in the aerospace industry," he said.

The best way to experience this expertise first-hand is at the Center of Production Excellence (CPE) at the application center in Rorschacherberg. This approximately 21,528 square  foot (2,000 m2 ) hall is equipped with state-of-the-art NB, LX, and STC five-axis machining centers, which can be used to create a broad variety of flow surfaces and complex structural components. Starrag technologists test and optimize new, sophisticated machine processes at the site, usually in response to customer orders and under production conditions — and all while continuing to gather valuable experience. 

A unique application package 

"Just as the 'Aerospace Competence Center' was given its official name, in CPE we were commissioning an Ecospeed machine featuring a pallet 157 inches (4 meters) in length to allow us to reproduce our expertise in structural components on this scale," said Bringmann.

The plans go even further, he said. To achieve the best possible synergy effect, future development and production of the Ecospeed series will be relocated from Mönchengladbach to Rorschacherberg.

"By moving our Ecospeed facilities, we can offer the aerospace industry a huge range of applications from a single source — in a way that very few other companies around the world can," explained.

This includes manufacturing solutions for blades, vanes, blisks, impellers, casings, gearboxes, and housings for turbines. The range also covers aluminum and titanium structural components of various sizes, plus landing gear components. 

Complete manufacturing solutions from a single source 

It's not just the scope of the Starrag range that makes the difference, he added. "We see ourselves less as a machine supplier and more as a solution provider — we see our customers as partners to whom we provide continuous support thanks to our process expertise," said Bringmann. 

This support starts as soon as Starrag receives an inquiry. "In an ideal world, a customer would come to us asking for a manufacturing solution with the component, material, and required quantity already in mind," said Bringmann. "If that happens, we can use all of our expertise to find a solution for manufacturing the parts with maximum production reliability and at the lowest possible unit cost.”

Starrag process expertise does not just include manufacturing high-end machines — the company can also providei auxiliary components for machining: for example, it can produce solid carbide milling tools specifically designed for a customer's workpiece, which provide the customer with process advantages.

The same applies to bespoke clamping technology and fixtures. Even custom CAD/CAM software is developed in Rorschacherberg, including post-processor programming. Alongside all of these activities, Starrag also looks after any required measuring cycles and simulations, right through to complete automation and digitalization solutions. 

Any process elements that Starrag cannot cover itself are passed onto selected specialist partners who can provide optimal products for the process — these products range from coolants and tool systems to additional software. 

Processes are optimized, tested, implemented, and supported 

To round off its scope of services, Starrag also ensures that all of the components work well together. This is where the CPE in Rorschacherberg comes into play again, as it will continue to be at the heart of the Aerospace Competence Center in the future. It is at CPE that customer applications are tested and optimized under actual production conditions.

"This means we can create a truly effective, reliable production process and optimized, process-secure, realistic unit costs," said Bringmann. "But our commitment does not end here: Of course, we also provide support in terms of implementing the solutions on site—no matter where that site is in the world - and continue to help our customers even when the process is up and running."

Related Glossary Terms

  • centers

    centers

    Cone-shaped pins that support a workpiece by one or two ends during machining. The centers fit into holes drilled in the workpiece ends. Centers that turn with the workpiece are called “live” centers; those that do not are called “dead” centers.

  • gang cutting ( milling)

    gang cutting ( milling)

    Machining with several cutters mounted on a single arbor, generally for simultaneous cutting.

  • milling

    milling

    Machining operation in which metal or other material is removed by applying power to a rotating cutter. In vertical milling, the cutting tool is mounted vertically on the spindle. In horizontal milling, the cutting tool is mounted horizontally, either directly on the spindle or on an arbor. Horizontal milling is further broken down into conventional milling, where the cutter rotates opposite the direction of feed, or “up” into the workpiece; and climb milling, where the cutter rotates in the direction of feed, or “down” into the workpiece. Milling operations include plane or surface milling, endmilling, facemilling, angle milling, form milling and profiling.