8 min read

EM80 – Optional Transverse Drilling/Machining unit for value addition

Jun 18, 2021 2:05:04 PM

In the case of high-volume production where thousands of parts of each type are produced daily, the possibility of integrating a maximum number of processes into a single production cycle has great advantages.

When a number of operations are integrated into a single cycle, it not only saves handling of WIP material but also reduces costs related to material inventory. It also eliminates the passage of the components from one machine to another thereby increasing part accuracy.

With high-volume components, handling and storage of semi-finished products and manual reworking pieces is not desirable because it leads to cost escalation therby resulting in the process being non-competitive.

Another important advantage of reduced handling of WIP material is a higher safety level for workers. All these advantages get multiplied as more and more operations are integrated into a single cycle.

Development of BLM GROUP’s cutting and end-machining systems, like the EM80, took into consideration all these aspects. The objective was to integrate multiple operations into a single cycle to produce parts starting from a 6 m (19.6’) long tube or solid bar while enabling the Customer to enjoy all the advantages stated above.

EM80 can be defined as a vertical transfer system with three workstations. The first workstation is always used for cutting the tube/bar into pieces of desired length. The remaining two stations can be employed to carry out a wide range of different operations as required. The possible additional operations include chamfering on ID and/or OD, facing, thread cutting on ID and/or OD, knurling on OD, deep drilling (in case of bars) with coolant flow from the center of the drill bit, boring, and turning.



The rotary table on EM80 transfers the pieces within the three work stations where the set operations can take place simultaneously thus optimizing the cycle time. This makes this system ideal for manufacturing a variety of cylindrical components with high-production volumes.


Value addition in manufacturing of cylindrical components from tubes or solid bars

As mentioned earlier, the first of the three workstations is always used for cutting. The other two stations can be equipped with a variety of tools depending upon the requirement. Each station has two tools to machine the part at both the ends. The process on the two ends of the part can be different because the machining units on the two sides are independent. One can use simple tools like helicoidal drill bits, tapping tools, boring tool, milling cutter or more advanced CNC controlled radial machining heads.

In some cases, the part may require milling or radial drilling. Integrating these operations in the production cycle of EM80 means added value to the whole process. It was for this purpose that the radial drilling option was developed.


Radial drilling on EM80 – Solid bar as starting materialRadial drilling on EM80 – Solid bar as starting material.


Radial drilling unit on automatic CNC transfer system for tubes and solid bars

The radial drilling/machining unit is available in two versions. The two versions differ in the number of controlled axes:


Controlled axes of the drilling/machining unit on EM80 transfer system for tubes and bars.Schematics showing the three controlled axes of the drilling/machining unit.


  • The two axes version can move the drill bit in two directions – one along the axis of the part (tube or bar) indicated by the X axis in the figure and the other radially up and down, indicated by the Z axis. The X axis movement covers the full maximum length of the part, i.e. 600 mm. With this version, one can drill radial holes along the entire length of the part, including the portion where the tube is clamped;
  • The three axes version has an additional controlled axis to move the tool in the direction orthogonal to the other two axes mentioned above (indicated by the Y axis) thus enhancing the capabilities of this version. With this version, one can not only make off-axis holes but can also carry out operations like key-way milling.


Radial drilling unit on automatic CNC transfer system for tubes and solid barsWith the drilling/machining unit one can drill holes also in the clamping zone.


The radial drilling unit is equipped to cool the part and the drill bit via emulsion flow that comes out of micro-holes on the drill bit. These holes are connected to the axial channel of the drill bit which in turn is connected to the coolant circulation system of the machine.

It is possible to have an optional high-pressure coolant circulation system with an operating pressure of 40 bar. The high- pressure system is to be used for drilling solid bars because it serves two purposes: cooling and evacuation of chips.



How to program the drilling/machining unit

Programming a part on the EM80 is simple, whether it uses the end-machining heads or the radial drilling / machining unit. Programming does not require any knowledge of ISO programming codes. The easy-to-use, intuitive HMI allows the operator to set all the parameters to define the machining operation through a graphic interface.

To program a drilling operation, it is sufficient to define the position of the hole to be drilled and the feed depth to which the but should move. The machine will automatically calculate the technical parameters like feed, speed etc. using the pre-loaded technology parameter database created by BLM GROUP based on our 60 years of experience in this field. The definition of technological parameters takes into consideration the material properties, optimal cutting speed, etc.


programmazione-unità-lavorazione-radiale-transfer-per-tubi-e-barreThe machine calculates the technical parameters like feed, speed etc.


Some examples of parts produced on EM80

On one hand the availability of the radial drilling / machining option adds to the capability of the system and therefore the value to the part. On the other hand, it increases the range of feasible components while maintaining the advantages of the integrated processes of higher productivity and accuracy, at optimal cost parameters required by industry standards.

Equipping the EM80 with this option may also prove to be an advantageous strategic decision for the future because it expands the systems versatility and thus capability of processing parts for different industry sectors beyond those of its original intended use.


Automotive sector, Airbag system componentAirbag system component produced on EM80 equipped with the radial drilling/machining unit.


EM80 is widely used in the automotive sector to manufacture a large variety of cylindrical shaped parts starting from tube or solid bar. Some examples are various types of pins, shafts, fittings, small pistons etc. that are used in the different automotive sub-systems like engines, breaks, safety devices, suspensions and so on.

An example is shown in the picture above. It is a component that is commonly used in automotive Air Bag systems. The part was produced on an EM80 in a single cycle utilizing the radial drilling / machining device option to drill the hole at the center



Locking pin for the side and back panels of  a tractor trailer or other agricultural machinery Pin used on the side and back panels of a tractor trailer or other agricultural machinery produced on EM80 equipped with the radial drilling/machining unit.


Another typical sector for the EM80 application is that of agricultural and earth-moving machinery.

This sector uses numerous components that are similar to the ones mentioned earlier utilized by the automotive sector. Apart from components that are common with the automotive sector, there are others that are specific to agricultural sector. The picture above shows a cotter pin that is used in the hinges on the side and back panels of a tractor trailer or other agricultural carriages.

It was produced on EM80 in a single cycle. The radial drilling / machining device was used to drill the hole at the top side and the threading on the other end was created by the CNC controlled end-machining head, in the same cycle


Drive chain componentDrive chain component produced on EM80 equipped with the radial drilling / machining unit.


The EM80, a high-productivity transfer system for tubes and solid bars, is the ideal choice in one more situation – when a high volume of identical parts are used in the final product. The above picture shows a component of this type. It is one of the many identical components used on a drive chain that was produced on EM80 in a single cycle.

The Transverse Drilling/Machining unit is one of the many types of machining devices that can be used on EM80 to add value by integrating many process steps into a single cycle to manufacture many parts that are produced every day, all over the world.