Design Principle: The Monoblock

We are 20 years into the 21st century and our patented Monoblock construction continues to allow us to provide the fastest, most productive machine tools on the market. 

The Monoblock was developed during the years of 1998 through 2001, under the leadership of inventor and former owner of SW, Mr. Dieter Kroll. 

Today, we will focus entirely on the Monoblock as one of our foundational design principles. Features (i.e. the box-in-box 3-axis unit, the tool magazine, table technology, etc.) and capabilities (i.e. multi-spindle machining, automation options, etc.) will be receiving their own posts down the line. 

 

Double the support for stable machining 

Before the Monoblock, the machining industry was flooded with C-Frame constructions. This kind of open design is notorious for flexing during machining and warping over time, which will affect part quality. 

Introducing two-sided supported bending beams into our frame design formed the very beginning of the Monoblock design. This had two major advantages: 

1. It led to a more stable machine

2. It resulted in lower mass

As you can see in the graphic below, more stable machining pays off. No bending, no warping. Less time, therefore, in the CMM room. 

 

The second significant feature of the design was the lower weight of the machine. This wasn’t achieved through the use of lightweight building materials, such as aluminum. To maintain a low thermal expansion coefficient, thereby ensuring the longevity of the machine, it was actually constructed using steel components. The optimized design still resulted in much lower mass, which meant that machines with this construction would cost a whole lot less to ship. 

 

Seeing the Light

The potential for reduced weight was first realized in 1999 with the BA S03 -- a vertical machining center with standard feed drives. It was designed to be a compact machine that featured a working area of 600 x 400 x 400 mm. 

We knew we had something special with the BA S03. Even in this early model, we could see that the Monoblock construction optimized the torsion-free flow of force between the workpieces and tools through the workpiece carrier, the box-in-box 3-axis unit and the spindle. (While it will be getting its own post in the future, it’s important to note that the box-in-box 3-axis unit was developed to reflect the lightweight, rigid and boxlike structure of the machining units.)

This machine represented a lot of firsts for us: It was our first Monoblock machine, our first with torque motors, our first to feature synchronous spindles and it was the first time you could observe our machining process. 

Continuing to grow 

There was still room for improvement with the BA S03. While the machine is important to our history, we are no longer building it. Although the loading area was freely accessible for loading, operation, automation and crane, the machine itself was not easily accessed for maintenance or repair. This was due, in large part, to the fact that it was a vertical machining center. It didn’t take long for us to realize that the Monoblock could easily accommodate both vertical and horizontal machining processes. So we made the switch over to exclusively building horizontal machining centers, which on top of being more accessible, also fosters better chip fall. 

Today, Monoblocks are known for their accessibility for repairs and maintenance, even with our 4-spindle machining centers. 

 

Getting it right with the BA W06-22

The BA W06-22, which debuted in Milan, Italy at the 2003 EMO trade show, was the machine in which the benefits of the Monoblock really shone for the first time. It was the first two-spindle machine to feature the Monoblock build and a linear-drive. With a spindle distance of 600 mm and a load capacity of 2 x 600 kg, the machine was impressive when it came to its applications with light metals such as aluminum. 

It quickly became the star of the trade show. The BA W06 featured bilateral mounting, which minimized the sledding mass of the linear drive. Our direct-drive technology with linear motors enabled rapid traverse speeds of up to 2 m/s2 and accelerations up to 30 m/s2. Even today, we can only achieve the highest positioning accuracy with this level of dynamism through the direct drive technology within a maximally rigid monoblock. (Don’t worry, our drive technology will also be getting its own post soon.)

 

Mr. Kroll’s Legacy

The Monoblock still serves us today. All SW machines are constructed according to this design principle because it continues to be the most flexible, yet stable way of building a machine. Adding automation and integrated automation modules to a Monoblock is remarkably straightforward. Functions can be adapted to all six sides. Its cube construction mitigates bending and allows for easier access overall. 

Though the Monoblock was originally designed for the machining of light metals such as aluminum, it proved capable of heavy-duty machining once we incorporated the ball-screw drive into some of our designs. 

We would like to dedicate this post to the memory of Mr. Kroll. Without him, the Monoblock, SW and the machining world as a whole would look very different. He had a vision of continuing success sustaining SW through the new millennium and it was realized with the invention of the Monoblock. 

 

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