January 22, 2021
On December 24, 2020, Makino Milling Machine, a leading Japanese machine tool builder, unveiled the aluminum alloy “ATHIUM” jointly developed with material makers. The rigidity of ATHIUM is the same as that of gray cast iron, which is often used in machine tools, and the weight has been reduced by about 60%. The company aims to put it into practical use in its original products by the end of 2021. Shinichi Inoue, president of Makino Milling Machine said, “ATHIUM is a dream material. ATHIUM will have a great impact on the entire Japanese manufacturing industry”.
Increasing productivity by 85%
First of all, Makino Milling Machine adopts ATHIUM for machine tool columns and moving parts around spindles. If the moving part becomes lighter, the inertia will be decreased, and the load on the ball screw and servo motor will also be decreased. Therefore, power consumption can be reduced by up to 45% compared to the conventional materials. Traverse speed is also improved, and productivity is increased by 85% compared to the conventional one.
The company will adopte ATHIUM for the structure of the concept machine “e ・ MACHINE”, which was announced in 2020. Makino Milling Machine plans to adopt ATHIUM for wide range of products from existing products to new products, except large machining centers (MC). Makino Milling Machine aims for commercialization by the end of 2021.
Behind the development of new material, there is a sense of crisis in the Japanese machine tool industry. Machine tools are a key industry in Japan with international competitiveness, but China and other countries are emerging recently. “Even under these circumstances, in order to maintain and expand the competitiveness of Japanese machine tools, new materials with variety of Japanese technologies are needed” Inoue said.
Therefore, the company started full-scale development two years ago with Tajima Light Metal, an aluminum casting manufacturer in Hanyu City, Saitama Prefecture, and HINODE, a casting maker in Fukuoka City.
ATHIUM has a great impact not only on machine tools but also on the entire manufacturing industry. Gray cast iron is adopted in many industrial products such as internal combustion engines for automobiles, couplers for railway vehicles, and gears for wheels. Inoue said, “ATHIUM has the potential to be applied to high-speed mobiles such as automobiles and bullet trains, and for that reason, we will prove to the world that it can be put to practical use with our machine tools.”
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