Hydraulics in machine tools: The right combination for real benefits

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When it comes to the application of machine tools, the main factors are precision and unit processing costs. Manufacturer have to realize competitive target prices for machinery and, above all, keep the operating costs to a minimum. Intelligent and connected hydraulics off er an interesting approach for the reduction of system, energy and maintenance costs.

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Digital hydraulic axes control

The unbeatable advantages of hydraulics include high power density, toughness and modular design. No other technology off ers such high forces on such small construction areas without any heat generation in the working space. At the same time, overloads and impacts hardly cause any wear or compromise the high service life. In modern machine designs, however, even more is required: Electronic power hydraulic solutions combine the known advantages with electric controls well known to designers and commissioners of electric drives.

State-of-the-art hydraulics off er sustainable reductions of the total cost of ownership of machine tool and related unit costs. The flow is individually generated by pump applications and the pump motor speed adjusted to the actual requirements. Depending on the cycle characteristics, the energy consumption of hydraulics can this way be reduced by up to 80 percent. At the same time, these power units reduce the mean noise emission and additional noise protection measures are no longer required. One additional important advantage: Integrated sensors recognize the operating conditions and detect wear even before unexpected standstill. This way, maintenance costs can be reduced and the availability of machine tools increased.

Servohydraulic actuator

Servohydraulic actuator

Also regarding central functions like feed axes, hydraulics control systems have caught up with electrical systems. By means of dedicated software, motion controls in control cabinets or directly inside the actuator automatically compensate the special characteristics of fl uid technology and linearize motion profi les. Motion controls also enable coordinated motion of multiple hydraulic and electrical axes in mixed operation. Commissioners no longer require in-depth knowledge of hydraulics for parameterization of predefi ned functions.

Power unit up to 4KW

Power unit up to 4KW

In numerous machine tools, individual NC-controlled hydraulic axes are applied. Thanks to new innovations, this do not even require hydraulic power units. Servo-hydraulic axes generate high forces and off er all advantages of wear-free hydraulic transmissions with stepless adjustment. In the form of ready-to-use axis with cylinder, they apply a dedicated closed fl uid loop with pump, control block and a small pressure accumulator. For commissioning, technical personnel does not have to deal with hydraulic components as the servohydraulic axes are supplied as closed systems and parameterized like electric drives.

In the last years, hydraulics has made huge steps towards digitalization. Today, they combine physical advantages with up-to-date control technology and high comfort. This was recognized by most manufacturers of machine tools and hydraulics are today specifically used in designs to reduce system and operating costs. For this reason, the future is not about “either hydraulics or electrical systems” but rather: “What is the optimum combination from a technical and economical point of view?”

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