Royal Navy rules waves with revolutionary precision plasma cutters

Baldor’s four-axis system delivers outstanding results

Techserv Cutting Systems Ltd, a specialist manufacturer of CNC profile cutting systems,
has delivered four HS 4000 hi-definition precision plasma cutters to the UK’s Aircraft
Carrier Alliance (ACA).

Each cutter employs an advanced fullysynchronised four axis motion control system
– based entirely on Baldor Electric Company digital servomotors and drives – to provide
the precision of movement needed for tight tolerance, large-scale profile cutting.

The plasma cutters are being used to help fabricate the steel plate bow sections of two
new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, the first of which is due to enter service with the Royal Navy by 2016, with the second to follow by 2018.

The plasma cutters are installed at the Appledore (Devon) shipyard of Babcock Marine
Division, one of the principal members of the ACA.

The Appledore shipyard is involved in building the steel bow sections of the warships, which are then transferred to Babcock’s Rosyth (Fife) shipyard for integration and final ship assembly.

The first of some 20 consignments from Appledore, comprising 11 fabricated units
weighting between 20 and 36 tonnes each, were shipped by barge to Rosyth in August.

Techserv’s HS 4000 plasma cutters are very high performance machines, capable of producing high quality cut parts from steel plate sheets up to 5m wide and up to 35mm thick.

They employ precision extruded aluminium for the chassis and main beam to ensure rigidity and low mass, and use a machined track – with racks to both rails – which can be mounted on mid-level pedestals or on a customer-supplied beam.

Depending on the thickness of steel plate being processed and the type of plasma unit
that is fitted, HS 4000 machines offer cutting speeds of 50mm to 16,000mm per minute.

HS 4000 plasma cutters are four axis systems, with rack and pinion drives to both the transverse axes and the synchronised longitudinal axis.

The fourth axis controls the height of the cutting torch above the steel plate.

Each of the four axes is powered by a Baldor BSM series AC brushless servomotor, driven by a Baldor MicroFlex 500 watt digital servo drive.

The servo drives are controlled by a 4-axis version of Baldor’s NextMove ESB-2 machine

According to Techserv’s technical director, Mike Cowley: “We elected to use exclusively
Baldor motion control products for the HS 4000 primarily because the combination works
so well at providing the extremely high level of positioning accuracy that we require. In this particular case, the servomotors are fitted with BiSS encoders, which provide completely unambiguous absolute position data whenever they are polled by the controller”.

Baldor Electric Co
Ph: 02 9674 5455