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News | July 1, 2020

CNC, 5-Axis Tooling Bolsters FRCSW Manufacturing

By Jim Markle

VIRIN: 200701-N-XZ252-0072

From traditional hand-held tools to electrical discharge machining (EMD), Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) uses a variety of instruments and machines to help ensure it delivers the best possible products to the fleet.

Computer-based/assisted tooling is computer numerically controlled (CNC) and multi-axis CNC tooling.

Developed in the early 1950s, CNC tooling has been in use at FRCSW for some time in its manufacturing processes. Examples include lasers for cuts and patterns from minimally thick pieces of steel and aluminum; the waterjet tool that uses high-pressure water and an 80-grit garnet abrasive to cut through steel, titanium, and other materials; and EMD that creates an electric arc to erode metals like titanium.

Multi-axis machining uses CNC tools to rotate around one or more axis to manufacture metallic parts and components. The number of axis varies from four to nine.

FRCSW uses 5-axis machining. A 5-axis machine can mill material on a plane of two coordinates (x and y or back and forth, and left and right), as well as space, or top to bottom (z). The other two axis, a and b, apply to the rotation and tilting of the part, respectively.

Many of the commands 5-axis machines are located in Building 472 and designed for smaller, aluminum-based manufacturing.

About six years ago, the command purchased a larger, higher capacity machine made by Gruppo Parpas for $3.5 million that can handle a variety of metals including titanium, stainless steel and aluminum.

The inside manufacturing table is roughly 20 by 40 feet, enabling FRCSW to manufacture larger components like formers and longerons.

With both low and high-torque heads, the model also has the capability to mill carbon fibers, a primary ingredient of aircraft skins.

A significant feature of the Parpas machine is its ability to measure. The software uses a probe to verify the dimensions of the part either during or after the manufacturing process. Afterward, the operator receives a printout of the dimensions. The feature potentially saves artisans hundreds of manhours in the verification process.

Artisans also save time in setup procedures because the Parpas machine uses a tilted plane or angle variation that is uncommon in 5-axis CNC tools, machining all axis in one path. With other 5-axis machines, the manufacturing table moves in a back and forth motion, or the x and y-axis, while up and down is the a, c, and z.

Ordinarily care must be taken that when a part is machined, it is perfectly square to the machine, but parts need not be square to the Parpas as it will pick up the parts corners and compensate for any tilt.

Nov. 21, 2023

FRCSW at Fleet Week San Diego

On November 8 2023, Fleet Week in San Diego unfolded as a grand spectacle of innovation and technology, transforming the Port Pavilion Building into a vibrant hub of the future.

Nov. 10, 2023

Honor Flight San Diego’s Tribute to American Veterans

Veterans Day not only offers a moment to reflect upon the sacrifices of service members, but also serves as a poignant reminder of the price of liberty and the importance of acknowledging those who have borne its cost. This day reinforces the timeless truth: freedom is never free, and gratitude towards its guardians is eternally owed. Building on this spirit of reverence, organizations like Honor Flight San Diego (HFSD) work tirelessly to show tangible appreciation to these heroes.

Sept. 5, 2023

FRCSW STEM in Action

When Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) STEM ambassadors visit local communities, their goal is to utilize the STEM outreach program to inspire and create valuable opportunities to learn for both students and educators. The program also tries to empower both the students and FRCSW employees by fostering meaningful connections between Naval STEM efforts and the upcoming generation.

July 20, 2023

FRCSW Engineer Receives Assistant Secretary of Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award

FRCSW Engineer Receives Assistant Secretary of Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award

May 15, 2023

FRCSW Comptroller Receives Department of the Navy and Secretary of Defense Financial Management Awards

FRCSW Comptroller Receives Department of the Navy and Secretary of Defense Financial Management Awards

April 27, 2023

FRCSW E-2D Team Wins NAVAIR Commander’s Award

FRCSW E-2D Team Wins NAVAIR Commander’s Award

April 18, 2023

FRCSW Sailors Named 2023 Sailor of the Year

FRCSW Sailors Named 2023 Sailor of the Year

April 6, 2023

FRCSW Ally Support Strengthens Royal Australian Air Force

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) successfully completed a first of its kind reconfiguration of a U.S. Navy EA-6B Growler for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

March 31, 2023

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest - Eliminating Waste and Improving Efficiency

For over 100 years, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) has provided the men and women of the Navy and Marine Corps with the highest quality products and services in the most efficient manner possible. One of the state of the art management systems that makes this possible is the “Lean” process which focuses its attention on eliminating waste and error. FRCSW began the command’s most recent “Lean” process by integrating pre-expendable bins (PEB). Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey Legg, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Industrial Supply Officer, in collaboration with the other PEB managers, played a pivotal role in the improvement of PEB inventory.

Sept. 26, 2022

FRCSW Navy’s Sole Maintainer of Rotodome Radar

A primary tool of the Hawkeye’s defensive posture is the rotodome radar system, maintained by Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW).