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Sonaca Montreal Expands Capacity with State-of-the-Art Vertical Gantry Mill

Sonaca Montreal - new gantry mill

Sonaca Montreal started up operation of a new high speed, technologically-advanced 5-axis gantry mill at its fully integrated manufacturing operation in Mirabel, Quebec. The 240,000 sq ft facility provides machining, forming, surface treatment and assembly capabilities for the production of large aluminum aerostuctures up to 60 ft (18 m) in length. Its core products include wing and empennage skins, stringers, spars, and ribs for business and commercial aircraft.

The new Powermill V 5-axis gantry mill from Fives Liné Machines, Granby, Quebec, was installed in order to address Sonaca Montreal’s need for additional capacity in response to its organic demand growth. The new machine also increases the company’s product offerings with the ability to machine complex high precision wing and empennage components. The mill will be used primarily in the production of larger and more complex wing skins and spars for aerospace clients looking for tighter tolerances

The speed and power of the gantry mill’s spindle and axes drive systems provide substantial metal removal capabilities. The milling head introduces a 125/156 kW, 30,000 rpm spindle with a HSK A63/F80 tool taper. Linear motors produce a 76 m/min (3000 ipm) traverse rate, which reduces cycle time.  The rails of the high-rail gantry mill are installed on an elevated concrete foundation providing a natural enclosure.

“The solution we developed with Sonaca Montreal integrated vacuum table work holding, programmable high-pressure coolant that facilitates removal of the high chip load, mist collection including a full-length machine roof system, thermal compensation, chip extraction, automated tool changing, and tool/part probing systems,” said Brian Kilpatrick, regional sales manager at Fives Liné Machines.

The mill also includes maintenance and operator-friendly features, which were design priorities for Sonaca Montreal. The operator station area includes a monitor of remote gauges with real-time feedback for machine utilities and critical components. HD cameras allow the operator to easily view cutting operations from a safe and remote position. For periodic QA verifications and reporting, a machine health-check system examines machine geometry and the head check cycle assesses the geometry of the milling head.

“The amazing capabilities of this machine are a testament to the team effort that went into this project,” said Sylvain Bédard, CEO, Sonaca Montreal. “We’re proud to be able to offer our customers the highest quality parts machined on this state-of-the-art machine.’’ 

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