SixDigma Develops Custom Digital Manufacturing Solutions to Tight Tolerances in Aerospace Applications with GROB Universal Machine

Company delivers demanding manufacturing solutions to within 1/1000 th of an inch on the most complex surfaces

SixDigma is a manufacturing solutions company that develops custom digital manufacturing solutions for aerospace companies. The company specializes in advanced integration of CAD CAM and CNC systems to solve complex machining problems in aerospace applications. The SixDigma team includes experts in design, manufacturing, and process development, with a proven track record of solving some of the toughest manufacturing challenges. Part of meeting those challenges is having the best possible equipment in their shop. Recently, SixDigma added a GROB G350 Universal Machine to expand their machining capabilities. Thanks to the machine's high precision and effective design, SixDigma has seen an improvement in machining tolerances and efficiency.


Digital Manufacturing Solutions for Challenging Applications

With a primary focus on the aerospace market, SixDigma develops custom digital manufacturing solutions for some of the most demanding manufacturing environments in existence. With customers who manufacture products like aircraft engines, SixDigma's processes are developed for demanding materials like titanium and inconel when off-the- shelf manufacturing solutions don't suffice. SixDigma's customers come to the company seeking manufacturing solutions that are more exact, more repeatable, and more efficient than other existing options.

One of the most significant parts of SixDigma's business comes from adaptive machining solutions. Customers come to SixDigma with parts that have been forged, cast, 3D printed, or otherwise produced with methods that lead to slight variations between each part. The experts at SixDigma work to develop digital manufacturing solutions that include tool paths adapted to the part variations. The machining tool paths must be adapted to the parts' existing geometry so that the resulting products are highly consistent, with usual required tolerances down to 1/10,000 th of an inch. SixDigma achieves these highly consistant results with a mix of CAD/CAM/CNC integration in sophisticated manufacturing solutions.

Deciding on a GROB Universal Machine

Given that SixDigma works with major engine manufacturers and suppliers from across the aerospace market, the company's experts are familiar with nearly every CNC machine on the market. When it came time to upgrade their in-house equipment, the SixDigma team was looking out for a CNC machine that could support their cutting-edge work in adaptive machining applications. After trying out a number of different machines, the SixDigma team realized that the ones manufactured by GROB were uniquely positioned to satisfy their highly demanding accuracy and machine stability requirements.

"After evaluating many top-tier 5 axis machines, the GROB Universal Machines proved to be best when it came to satisfying all of our requirements for part dimensional quality and machine stability," said Edwin Gasparraj, Founder and Principal Consultant at SixDigma. "After using machines manufactured by GROB in a variety of settings, our team went out to the GROB facility in Ohio for some final testing, and we ultimately selected the GROB G350 Universal Machine for our shop. It has all of the premium machining capabilities we need, without a premium price tag."

GROB G350 Improves Efficiency

When using the GROB G350 installed at SixDigma, Gasparraj noted that one of the features most machinists notice immediately is compact machine exterior compared with the large machinable volume and large part sizes made possible by the machine's unique working envelope. What's more, the compact size compared with large machinable volume adds the stability that SixDigma needs for the demands of aerospace applications. GROB's unique kinematic arrangement puts fixed frame components close to machining envelope such that even the most extended tool position is never more than a foot away from the fixed frame, which provides exceptional stability for both the part and the cutting tool.

"Our experience with our new GROB G350 proves that it's one of the most stable machines we've ever come across," Gasparraj added. "Given the increased force placed on the machine by the hard aircraft materials we use, the stability of the machining action is critically important."

The G350's high stability also translates into greater production efficiency for SixDigma. Since the GROB Universal Machine can deliver tolerances up to 10x more precise than even the highest precision required by SixDigma's customers, repeat work is almost never necessary.

"In our adaptive machining solutions, we're chasing tolerances that are some of the smallest in the industry at about +/-10/1000 th of an inch," Gasparraj said. "With the G350's ability to maintain tolerances down to 1/1000 th of an inch in most cases, accurately and repeatedly, we're able to overdeliver on part quality to even the most demanding aircraft customers."

Ease of Maintenance and Excellent Service

Beyond the GROB Universal Machine's accuracy and repeatability, SixDigma was drawn to the company's reputation for superior service.

"GROB is known for service and for valuing technology," Gasparraj added. "The fact that everyone working at GROB can explain in detail what's happening with the machine and how to service it effectively and holistically was a major selling point."

Gasparraj specifically pointed to the ways in which GROB makes it possible for customers to easily perform necessary service on their own machines without needing a technician to come in person, thus improving uptime and efficiency.

"GROB uses some of the same components for hydraulics, pneumatics, cooling systems, and more, making it easy to stock a small number of spare parts for the machine," Gasparraj said. "We can stock fewer than 10 major components and still maintain confidence that our machine can be up and running with minimal hassle."

Gasparraj added that the team has been impressed with how the entire GROB Universal Machine is clearly laid out, with separate cabinets for hydraulics, pneumatics, and the cooling system. Paired with descriptive error messages that pinpoint issues to a specific system and clearly labeled components in each cabinet, this clear and precise layout adds to the machine's overall efficient running and upkeep.

"Due to the rapid nature of our business, time saved is always more important to us than anything else, even the cost replacement components. When we're working on a critical project, we need to be able to get up and running and staying that way," Gasparraj explained. "The attention to detail in the layout of the machine ensures that we never spend more than a few moments identifying a problem, and we can always be confident that when we make a fix, it's the right fix. The resulting improvement in uptime over other machines is incredibly valuable in the work we do."

Conclusion

Given its specialization in advanced adaptive machining for some of the most demanding aerospace applications in the world, SixDigma needs to be confident in its machining technology. Thanks to the high stability, accuracy, and repeatability of their GROB G350 Universal Machine, as well as the efficiency guaranteed by its easy maintenance and excellent service, the SixDigma team can be confident in meeting and exceeding their customer's expectations for machining.

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