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What has replaced planers?

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  • What has replaced planers?

    I have never worked in a heavy machine shop apart from a couple of weeks 30years ago when I was a 2nd year apprentice, so am really out of touch in regards to heavy machining. There was a planer in the machine shop of the shipyard where I started out and it always had plenty of work.

    So what machine/s have replaced the planer and plano mills? Or is it a case of these days instead of heavy castings etc the big jobs are fabricated?

    bollie7

  • #2
    Originally posted by bollie7

    So what machine/s have replaced the planer and plano mills?
    China, Japan, and India.
    1601

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

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    • #3
      Picture an open sided planer with a mill head or two or three fitted on and CNC control.
      That and large gantry mills.
      I just need one more tool,just one!

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      • #4
        Like wierd says, CNC mills and grinders.

        Most most "modern" machines that still have box ways (as opposed to linear bearings) are CNC milled and then ground.
        "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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        • #5
          The last such device I worked on made integrated circuits and required sub-micron accuracy. The Meehanite base was about the same size as that of a typical knee mill. The critical surfaces were formed by a big grinder.

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          • #6
            When I worked at FMC Central Engineering Labs and walked through the shop at the nearby Ordinance Division in San Jose, they used giant CNC mills to mill mating surfaces of hatches on the hulls of Bradleys. These were massive machines, and would certainly replace any planer.

            While I was at FMC, we build a custom CMM to inspect VLS cannisters; because we assembled it from various components (30' slide, rotary tables, etc) we ended up generating a complete kinematic model of the CMM and developing joint & linear slide error maps for the unit using a laser interferometer. One could do exactly the same w/ a CNC machining center if needed as long as the machine was rigid and repeatable. Axes not quite square - fix it in software!

            We ended up not quite as accurate as a regular CMM, but at about half the cost, since those of us on the software team were on salary :-).

            Management was happy, although they didn't like having to send a team out w/ a laser every time the forklift got too friendly w/ the positioning tables....
            Bart Smaalders
            http://smaalders.net/barts

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            • #7
              We dont need planers nowadays, because we are no longer a manufacturing nation over here in the U.K.-- We simply dont produce anything, There are only a few shops with big planers lurking, By & large milling has taken over, Heaven help us if we are ever attacked & have to go to war, will we call on our foes to make our munitions etc?

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              • #8
                Planers are rare but still get used for resurfacing ways that are going to be hand scraped. Planers have a higher capacity for accuracy than milling machines, and impart less stress and cold working to the surface.

                They've made a partial resurgence in ultraprecision machining as a way to generate surfaces that are impossible or difficult to create on a diamond turning lathe, yet equal the accuracy and finish.

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                • #9
                  Plane(r) sailing

                  Originally posted by toastydeath
                  Planers are rare but still get used for resurfacing ways that are going to be hand scraped. Planers have a higher capacity for accuracy than milling machines, and impart less stress and cold working to the surface.

                  They've made a partial resurgence in ultraprecision machining as a way to generate surfaces that are impossible or difficult to create on a diamond turning lathe, yet equal the accuracy and finish.
                  You got it TT.

                  The tables that we had ran on inverted "Vee"-ways and had forced-feed continuous lubrication. They actually "floated" on a thin film of oil and had a "bow-wave" ahead of the table. The lubricant was recovered, re-filtered and re-cycled.

                  Because of the mass and inertia the table was hard to get going but when going (ie after "stiction"was eliminated) it was quite easy to pull/push the table.

                  There were no CNC or DRO's in those days - but I can imagine one with those now!!

                  In those days, many mill tables had a finish straight off the planer - a wide flat tool with radiused corners - cross-feed could be better than 1/2" at a time. Some older mill table had "right through" tee-slots that were done on a planer. Modern mill have a "well" where the tee-slot cutter begins and ends.

                  Forrest Addy in a separate post said that the Planer machinist and the "Mill-wright" were a team. Dead right. They would both set and check the set-up and finish on the planer. It was really something to see them "match-machining" the say lathe bed to to the apron/head-stock/tail-stock. They actually used the planer as a very fine linear "scraper".

                  The set-up of the lathe/mill on the Planer bed was as near as could be got to the machine set-up in the shop in use.

                  The Planer left a beautiful "soft" machined surface that was ideal for the hand-scraper to finish off. There was usually some even though quite slight material that needed final hand-scraping for "line" or "flat" and the rest for "look" and lubrication. Wear or "straking" in the scraped finish was usually the first an best indicator of wear and need for a "touch-up" re-scrape or a trip to the planer.

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                  • #10
                    I visited Boeing in portland for a service call and the maintenance guy gave me a tour of the place. Massive gantry mills. All cnc. Pretty old too. He said thats why boeing bought the place. Some had 4 heads and were machining titanium landing gear parts. Pretty impressive.

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                    • #11
                      Cant agree more as to the lovely soft finish which can be obtained on a planed component, A mill in my estimation does not give you as good, Over here in Scotland , the late firm of Hutsons Ltd Kelvinhaugh Engine works Glasgow, had a massive Loudon planer about 1980, this machine was the biggest of its type left on the Clyde area, One day when i was in that firm, the works manager was chasing a miss alignment of two tenths of a thou on it The work being taken of it was absolutely stunning as to finish, Even at home, my little hand operated planing machine can give a superior scraped finish to my milling machines, Pity about the operator running out of puff!

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                      • #12
                        Forrest Addy in a separate post said that the Planer machinist and the "Mill-wright" were a team. Dead right. They would both set and check the set-up and finish on the planer. It was really something to see them "match-machining" the say lathe bed to to the apron/head-stock/tail-stock. They actually used the planer as a very fine linear "scraper".
                        "match machining" huh? Apparently not at the South Bend Lathe Works. If I recall correctly it was an old photo of their plant I saw with a *bunch* of lathe beds in two rows, being "gang machined" on a huge planer. I wish I could remember which of my books I saw that in as I would love to post the picture here. I am sure the planer left a great finish that needed only some bearing improvement. The older SB lathes had hand scraped ways, but in a production environment, I am sure you can't have a scraper hand spend days on a single machine. I think I read that in recent years after they got to the point that the modern version of the Heavy 10 was the only model they made, they went to a hardened and ground bed way and the last one I saw with a camlock spindle (making it fairly recent) indeed appeared ground. Even at that, the carriage is scraped in to fit.

                        Still, planers were an amazing piece of machinery. I have read a good bit about them and it seems that after about WWII they became almost entirely the huge, high horsepower items that we most recently knew them as. I have an old Lathe and Morse crank planer that had to have been made between about 1871 and 1891 as that was the limited time the company carried that name. Its of course line-shaft driven and given the maybe 2" belt size, it can't deliver too much HP I haven't measured, but its probably only about a 12"x12"x15" work envelope though. The big post war Gray's and others were famous for being able to spit out coil springs at the far end from really huge depths of cut that came with huge horsepower and often used two or more cutter heads mounted for gang planing as mentioned. Some I have seen in a planer book I own had heads mounted two on the overarm and two on the columns, allowing for lots of simultaneous work.

                        Paul
                        Paul Carpenter
                        Mapleton, IL

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by pcarpenter
                          "match machining" huh? Apparently not at the South Bend Lathe Works. If I recall correctly it was an old photo of their plant I saw with a *bunch* of lathe beds in two rows, being "gang machined" on a huge planer.
                          From the pictures I've seen Paul (Logan, Bridgeport, Moore), that's how most plants operated: the rough castings were planed en masse in one section of the factory, and then fitted in another. Lindsay's "Lathe Manufacturing" (old reprints of American Machinist magazine) shows similar pictures.

                          On a related note, I've seen the Youtube videos of a benchtop planer that someone posted here. Has anyone ever seen one of these in the Wild. Are they worth having?
                          "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                          • #14
                            I've seen a few pictures of one over on the old machinery forum on PM. One of them shown recently was so cute (smaller than a breadbox and hand cranked) and in such prestine shape that I thought I would put it on display on a shelf in the house and not use it:



                            The one I have is small enough for a home shop, but I am out of room and may have to sell it. It probably occupies 3x4' of floor space. It has the advantage of being a crank planer as opposed to gear or worm driven. The latter types get their reversing action through a belt shifter and therefore, must still be sort of "lineshaft driven". This means a lot of overhead or underneath or behind the machine space is used up by belts, pulleys, the shifter mechanism etc, making them more space hungry in a small shop.

                            To address your original question, however, I suppose you can argue that even say one with a 12"x12"x9" envelope (a pretty small planer but numbers grabbed out of the sky) is on par with work capabilities from a decent sized shaper. I have heard that the hand cranked models (not to be confused with a crank drive mechanism) are not so practical as they will just wear you out.

                            Paul
                            Paul Carpenter
                            Mapleton, IL

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