The world’s largest spindle press for high-precision aircraft components 2 minutes spent reading

The world’s largest spindle press for high-precision aircraft components

Volkmar Held
As a freelance writer, Volkmar Held reports for voestalpine on topics that move people. The content of his stories ranges from archaeometallurgy to future technologies.

For use in aircraft, manufacturers place the highest demands on material and production technology. voestalpine is meeting this challenge with powerful, highly precise spindle presses that work closely on the ordered design.

There is power inside: An engine for the wide-body Airbus A380 weighs 6.5 metric tonsand produces 200,000 hp of thrust. Its mounts, which guarantee a secure fit on the wings, weigh a mere 77 kg.

The world’s largest spindle press

To achieve these kinds of requirements, the Kapfenberg-based aerospace supplier relies on ultra-strong steel-, titanium-  and nickel-based alloys. Because these materials are also extremely expensive, however, they check for ways to minimize process-related production “waste” as much as possible. With this in mind, BÖHLER Schmiedetechnik GmbH & Co KG produces especially stable components with a gigantic machine: the world’s biggest spindle press. With its 8-meter long and 2-meter thick spindle, it achieves pressing force equal to the thrust of 11 space shuttle launches into space. This high and precisely adjustable forming energy makes it possible to forge high-strength parts with outstanding utilization of material. At the same time, it guarantees more uniform material quality – one of the conditions for certified recognition as a supplier of high-stress components in aircraft types that remain more than 25 years in production programs with almost no change.


Close to the limit

The enormous forces of the spindle press particularly prove their value during near-net-shape forging. With this process, the experts in Kapfenberg achieve the contour required by the customer, even in radii and transitions, with little use of material and little post-processing effort required.

The basic raw material is supplied in the form of rods up to 350 millimeters thick and is roughly pre-shaped in the preforming line and formed in the die, with warming phases between. Depending on the complexity of the forged part, this process may performed once or multiple times until the part is forged into its final form, followed by heat-treating, testing and final machining. A production effort of this type for components like engine mounts requires optimal preparation. For this, the developers at BÖHLER Schmiedetechnik have improved the computer simulation of the material behavior in the forming tool as well as the possibility to predict the properties of materials and finished components.

At voestalpine, material expertise is combined with technological excellence. In near-net-shape forging, valuable aerospace materials are efficiently, precisely and effectively formed with the help of in-depth know-how.

Volkmar Held