If asked what a prosthetic hip joint, the front axle housing for an F1 car, and drilling hardware for the oil and gas sector have in common, you’d be forgiven for not knowing the answer. However, one company that could point you in the right direction is Yamazaki Mazak.


With a rich industrial heritage, Mazak – which was founded in Nagoya, Japan, in 1919 and remains privately owned by the Yamazaki family to this day – has grown over the last century to become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools, with 10 manufacturing plants worldwide.

Europe has long been one of Mazak’s key markets, and this year the company is celebrating 30 years of manufacturing at its European headquarters in Worcester, UK. Having first opened its doors in 1987, Mazak now employs over 600 people at its European Manufacturing Plant, which produces over 40 different machine types, and in excess of 1,000 units a year.

Mazak’s UK-built machines include the 5-axis VARIAXIS i-500, a range of CNC turning centers and vertical travelling column machines from the VTC series, which are extensively used by manufacturers throughout the UK, Europe and beyond.
With such a diverse portfolio of products that can be found at multiple stages of the supply chain across all of the major industrial sectors, it comes as no surprise that one of the biggest events in the Mazak biennial calendar is EMO: the premier global trade fair for the metal cutting sector.

Running from 18th-23rd September, EMO 2017 will see in excess of 2,000 exhibitors, and over 140,000 visitors from around the world descend on the Hannover Messe. The exhibition is famed for being a major platform for innovation, and over the previous two exhibitions, Mazak has given world debuts to 32 different machine tools. That trend is showing no sign of abating, with the manufacturer set to unveil a further 15 machines to the world for the first time in 2017.

However, the company does not limit itself to the launch of just machining centres at the exhibition. Following on from the unveiling of its complete SMOOTH Technology CNC ‘family’ at EMO 2015, Mazak will be placing Industry 4.0 at the centre of its EMO 2017 stand and will offer visitors a first glimpse of its iSMART Factory concept.

The iSMART Factory concept utilises Mazak’s Industry 4.0 infrastructure which enables machine users to make the vital step-up from automated cell manufacturing to a completely connected Industry 4.0 factory of the future.

Mazak’s iSMART Factory is centred on three key pillars, namely SMOOTH Technology, the new Mazak SMART BOX, which provides faster data analysis with increased security; and the MTConnect standard communication protocol. All elements combine to facilitate the real-time sharing of manufacturing data between the production floor and offices, ultimately resulting in shorter lead times, reduced in-process inventory and lower indirect labour expenses for manufacturers.

SMOOTH Technology, incorporating the world’s fastest CNC and SMOOTH Process Support factory management software, sits at the heart of Mazak’s Industry 4.0 infrastructure, due to its ability to reduce machining by 30 per cent, connect entire machine shops and provide real-time monitoring and analysis capability.

In addition to the SMOOTH Process Support modules, such as SMOOTH Scheduler and SMOOTH PMC, the CNC has also been equipped with a number of new programmes which will be launched at EMO 2017. The first is Mazak API (Application Programming Interface) which enables non-Mazak software, such as automation equipment, to be integrated into the full suite of SMOOTH CNC’s. Alongside this is the new Smooth Spindle Analytics software, which provides instant spindle vibration reporting and analysis.

Efficient and secure data processing is made possible by Mazak’s new SMART BOX. Utilising Cisco’s FOG computing concept, the SMART BOX effectively extends cloud computing closer to where the data is produced. This enables sensitive data to be analysed and acted upon securely with optimal speed, with only selected data sent to the cloud for historical analysis and long-term storage. Cybersecurity is maximised by a state-of-the-art Cisco networking platform and Layer3 Managed Switch, industrialised for the factory environment. The SMART BOX can interface with any machine fitted with an MTConnect adaptor regardless of manufacturer, age or CNC type. Older legacy machines can also be connected to the SMART BOX with the addition of Mazak’s new SENSOR BOX.

The final pillar of Mazak’s iSMART Factory concept is the use of the MTConnect standard communication protocol, which allows the cross-communication of multiple different machines in the factory or workshop, and enables machine information to be extracted in a standardised format.

During the exhibition, each of Mazak’s 25 machines, configured into six different machining zones, will be connected using the company’s Industry 4.0 infrastructure to display real-time production information.

One of the visitor highlights on the Mazak stand will be the latest extension to its flagship INTEGREX range. The INTEGREX i-500 extends the capacity of the successful i series and features a modular design concept, enabling customers to match the required machine specification to their application. The INTEGREX i-500 will be joined by another machine shown for the first time, the INTEGREX i-800V/8, which combines full 5-axis milling, powerful turning operations and pallet-changing capabilities to quickly process large, highly complex parts, such as jet engine components on a vertical platform. Both machines are making their world debuts at EMO 2017, and will be operating on Mazak’s SmoothX CNC, with stand visitors able to witness the level of productivity that can stem from full integration into the iSMART Factory concept.

Mazak’s 5-axis zone will be centred on three exceptional new machines. The newly released HCR-5000S, is a compact high performance horizontal machining centre ideally suited to the aerospace sector for the manufacture of small-size structural components. The machine is equipped with a high performance main spindle and is capable of ultra-fast acceleration with excellent jerk control, to deliver highly accurate finished parts.

Alongside this will be the VARIAXIS i-300 AWC, a compact automation solution developed from Mazak’s highly successful VARIAXIS range combined with automation knowhow from their PALLETECH solutions. The machine incorporates a gantry-box structure to delivery high accuracy and an expandable tool magazine of up to 505 tools, making it ideal for high mix, low volume production and lights out machining. The 5-axis zone also includes a brand-new specialist die and mould machine, the UD-400/5X, which is capable of 42,000 rpm, 1.0G acceleration and an ultra-high jerk rate.

Mazak will be exhibiting three horizontal machining solutions at EMO, including its new HCN-5000 machining centre, equipped with an MPP automation system. The 16 station MPP, which stands for Multi Pallet Pool, is designed to add automation to single machines. It features the SMOOTH MPP software application with advanced scheduling functions, analysis of production results and system utilisation which can also be accessed remotely on PCs and smart phones. The space-saving design occupies a smaller footprint than the traditional PALLETECH system and is ideal for long periods of unmanned running.

In the turning zone, one of the highlights will be Mazak’s QUICK TURN 250MY. With an automated robot system, seamlessly integrated with Mazak’s SmoothG CNC, it enables complete control of the manufacturing cell from the CNC, as well as real-time data sharing and analysis with the wider factory. The easy-to-programme robot cell enables a flexible, high productivity automated solution, ideal for small to medium lot sizes and suitable for a range of applications.

The stand-out machine among Mazak’s vertical machining centres on display at EMO 2017 is the UK-produced VCN-530C, which is equipped with a newly designed 18,000rpm high-speed spindle, ballscrew cooling on the X-, Y- and Z-axes and a high capacity 40-tool magazine. The machine is specifically targeted at the sub-contracting market.

Another vertical machining centre highlight will be the VTC-760C. Equipped with Siemens Sinumerik 828D control, machine performance and data can still be analysed as part of Mazak’s iSMART Factory concept through the use of MTConnect and SMART BOX.  
Visitors to the Mazak stand will be able to see the first European showing of its latest additive manufacturing machine tool, the VARIAXIS j-600/5X AM. It is the latest addition to Mazak’s growing additive portfolio available to customers in the European market The VARIAXIS j-600/5X AM employs an innovative Wire Arc-type metal deposition system to take the additive process to an as yet unseen level of speed. It enables manufacturers to quickly and easily grow part features, and then employ the machine’s advanced 5-axis multi-surface subtractive capabilities to produce high-precision parts complete in single setups. The VARIAXIS j-600/5X AM also benefits from a 12,000rpm spindle combined with a rotating B and C axes trunnion table. It is well suited for a wide variety of applications, including the production and repair of parts for the aerospace and oil & gas industries.  

With such an array of new machines and technology being displayed on the Mazak stand (B56, Hall 27), there will certainly be something for everyone.

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